Skip to main content

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 from this blog

Swedish Flower Hen

The rare Swedish Flower Hen has a unique story. Called Skånsk blommehöna(Bloom Hen) in their native country of Sweden this landrace breed was thought to be extinct in the 1970's. (The term landrace refers to the fact that S.F.H.'s were free to develop for nearly five hundreds years without interference from man, so to speak). But in the late 1980's the Swedish Poultry Country Club located isolated flocks in the villages of Esarp, Tofta and Vomb. The gene bank that was eventually created by the S.P.C.C. was successful and there are approximately 1,300 Swedish Flower Hens currently in Sweden.

While enthusiast of rare breeds continue to work hard to increase the numbers it is painfully obvious why they slowly fell out of favor nearly 100 years ago. Though rare and visually stunning they cannot equal the number of eggs some of the top laying hens produce in a peak yearly cycle. Swedish Flower Hens average around 150 eggs over the course of 12 months. Compare that with the nea…

In Winter

I enjoy winter when it arrives at the homestead. Though the gardens are long since dormant there is still plenty to do.The rabbits and the chickens need constant care. A couple of times a day I have to break ice from the animals water and make sure they have enough warm bedding.

I don't mind though. No matter how cold it gets. There is poetry in the garden during summer. Birds sing with triumphant melody. Soft summer rains baptize new growth. But the winter features a more solitary form of art. For the most part there is a resonating silence that is a canvas for the occasional temperamental gust of wind and snow. These same squalls force the breathe from my lungs and scatter the frozen mist before my eyes. Then, once again, there is silence. As any good steward I try not to disturb this peace. If anything, I try to move unnoticed among it.

When it is cold enough the trees will produce an individual moan as they threaten to splinter in the darkness of the woods. They all have their…

The Land of Plenty

The idea that I am about to present to you is certainly nothing new. Wonderful organizations such as Ample HarvestPlant a Row for the Hungry and countless food banks and pantries across the country have been confronting the issue of hunger in our communities head on for some time.

Food insecurity is a cornerstone of the human condition. A little research will lead you to discover a long history of charity in opposition. For example, the seventh century Irish Benedictine monk St. Fiacre who was a master herbalist eventually settled in France and practiced a reverse tithe by keeping 10% of his harvest while giving away 90% to those less fortunate.

Life is complicated, as we all know. There are no easy answers to any of the problems that plague our society but there are some very simple issues that could be addressed that could in turn have a ripple effect on a number of other dilemmas such as poverty, health and even violence.

According to the USDA 40% of the $161 billion dollars’ (yo…