Saturday, April 17, 2010

Violets and onions

The spring violets are in full bloom in my yard and they gave me cheery company as I planted onion sets this morning. I had hoped to have some "dark freckles" violets blooming among the common dooryard variety that edge my brick paths. Thanks to a high wind and a poorly anchored greenhouse, I lost all my freckly seedlings a few night ago. No matter. The common variety is the state flower of Illinois, after all. If the dooryard violet is good enough to represent my state, it should be good enough to grace the paths of my humble plot. Hopefully, the pleasant flowers will grace our dinner table as well. I plan to candy them as an edible adornment for my husband's birthday cake next week. I'll probably be the only one in my family willing to eat them.

As for the onions, this is my first go at raising them in my backyard. I generally avoid growing storage crops, thanks to the size of my yard. Unless I dedicate the entire space to a single crop, I will not raise enough to get me through a week, let alone a year. I was curious, though, about how garden-raised onions taste compared to store-bought. Moreover, alliums --both edible and decorative -- do very well in my yard (or perhaps they're just easy to grow!). I picked up some heirloom yellow onions from a garden catalog, as well as some red Italian onions from Caputo's. In price, Caputo's definitely wins: at a $1.29/lb, I bought a bunch of 50 sets for 38 cents. The catalog was nearly twenty times that price! I trimmed the roots and tops as per instructions and in they went. I planted them a little close, since I'm planning on yanking some as green onions.

I know I have barely planted enough for a pot of onion soup, but of course I have this Little House on the Prairie vision of thick onion braids hanging from my attic rafters. It was all I could do not to plant all 100 sets. I had to chant to myself "zucchini, tomatoes and peppers" over and over again, lest I forget why I was not using all available garden space for these young onions.


  1. Abbie, I do onion sets each year, white and red. We pick them early as scallions for salad or as my husband does just eats them. This year, because my raised bed is so small, I am trying an experiment by also seeding onions eight next to them. I can never plant all of the sets at one time, and when I go back to do repeat sets they are not viable.

    I am very conservative with my space, some experiments, but mostly what I know we will eat.


  2. I'm so jealous!

    I only have a few scraggly violets and you have all that nice lush growth. No fair. The neighbors also have a lot of them blooming and I keep looking for something to do with the blooms.