Spanish Onion

The onion has a long and somewhat interesting history. According to the National Onion Association, yes there is such a thing, it is difficult to tell the exact origins of this allium because their tissue leaves little trace. But with that said it is believed that they were a part of human diet well before farming and that our prehistoric ancestors were enjoying wild varieties.

There is some conjecture that they were cultivated in Iran or West Pakistan and there is evidence of onions being grown in Chinese gardens well over 5,000 years ago.

Onions played a roll in ancient Egyptian burials with remains being found in King Ramses IV tomb. In the sixth century B.C. onions were celebrated in the medical treatise Charaka Sanhita.

But that is not all. The Greek physician Dioscorides believed in onions medical properties. The Romans carried onions all the way to Germany and England during their campaigns. During the middle ages the three staples of the European diet were cabbage , beans and you guessed it onions.

Who are we to argue with history? In an effort to continue such an impressive culinary line we grow this pungent allium in our own garden patch. Normally we grow red onions in the family garden. This year we decided a change of pace was in order and grew Spanish onions. Admittedly the onions in our garden are not the monster bulbs you buy in the grocery store but we have a much shorter season and do not pound our soil with synthetic fertilizers. They are still delicious and we make up for size by growing a few extra bulbs.

Onions, which are related to lilies, are rather easy to grow. As with any other crop you want to make sure that your soil is rich in organic matter for best results. You can either grow onions from seeds or sets. If you are growing from seed and happen to live in a cold northern climate such as I do you will need to start indoors well before the season starts. We tend to use onion sets to grow our crop. Sets are simply second year onions harvested at the end of the first growing season. They are then planted the following spring.

When planting these particular allium place the bulb halfway down in the soil. The onion itself is actually a swollen leaf and by providing it with some head space it helps create some breathing room which in theory allows for larger bulbs and less chance of rot.

Onions are very healthy as well. Eating onions provides cardiovascular benefits, helps with bone density, is an anti-inflammatory and is even believed to help prevent certain types of cancer.

An onion crop has matured when the tops fall over and turn yellow. After a weeks time remove the onion from the ground. There are a number of ways to store onions but the main thing to keep in mind is proper air flow so that the bulb does not rot. What works well for our family is to remove the dead tops and allow them to "dry" in a sunny location for about one week to ten days. At that point we store them in mesh in the kitchen so that they receive proper air flow. If properly stored onions last well into early winter. They are especially good in soups and stews on a cold winter day.

Tobias Whitaker blogs for Mother Earth News and Grit Magazine. Click on the Mother Earth News logo at the bottom of the page for all of his post. You can also find him on Facebook at Seed To Harvest: Bossy Hen Homestead which is a central location for his homesteading blogs and his homeschooling blog, A Mile In Her Shoes: Tales Of A Stay-At Home Dad found here


Popular Posts