A Sleeper Onion
ardeners like to take chances and sometimes those chances work out in our favor Last year while conversing with a gardening friend, she shared just how much she liked the torpedo onions she grew. She didn’t expect much from them and just was filling an allium gap. Somewhere between finishing off her last slimey Walla Walla onions and before getting into her storage onion stash.
Another thing gardeners do is bend rules, or challenge what we read, hear and see. I decided to bite on these onions they sounded so good. Besides seed is cheap, if things work out, great, if not, you’re not out too much cash. The rule I decided to bend was to use expensive real estate (greenhouse) to grow an inexpensive crop, namely cooking onions. Lately I have been justifying using my greenhouse for inexpensive run of the mill crops along with other warm weather crops that need the protection the greenhouse affords in my rainy Cascadia clime. My reasoning is that yes, onions are an inexpensive crop to purchase, but why not grow something that is easy to grow and store for months here? No traveling to the store, no job to earn the money to buy the onions from the store, no taxes paid on those earnings I needed to buy the “cheap” onions from the store. You get the picture. Maybe growing something I use several times a day 365 days a year is a good crop for me to spend some time and effort on.
I was NOT happy with a recent list making the rounds of frugality based blogs. Onions were on the list of things to not bother buying organic because they did not test as high in residues as other vegetables, because onions are a natural insect repellent…hmmm, I happen to think herbicides are just as important to avoid if possible. Maybe onions don’t really have an uptake issue, but if you don’t want to see herbicides used don’t buy crops that rely on them. Anyone reading this that has tried to grow onions on any scale knows that they do not have much in the way of leaf cover to shade out weeds, and they need lots of attention to detail, weeding, irrigating etc. You can’t tell me that non-organic onion growers don’t take advantage of pre and post emergence herbicides to control weeds. I would suggest before you decide what to buy organic or not, you look at all that is involved in getting that cheap crop to you. If you can’t figure out how a crop is grown, just do an internet search for crop production guidelines. You will find out how crops are grown on a big scale, and that may help you make your decision, don’t just base your decision on what you read here or what some primal blogger tells you, do the research yourself. Or better yet, grow them yourself
Back to the Red Long of Tropea onions, though, I devoted one 4 x 10 bed in the greenhouse. My reasoning was that I do irrigate the greenhouse, as opposed to dryland gardening outside. I knew I would pay attention to these onions if they were in the greenhouse right next to the hose bibb, outside they would have to survive on their own. I would keep them weeded (yeah right) and watered and they would grow into amazing specimens.
Well, I actually pulled it off, the onions did very well, for a cheap packet of seed and a little attention I got about 40 pounds of onions. I had no idea that they would do so well, or that they would keep for so long. A few are just now starting to sprout, but considering these are not keeping onions, keeping into January isn’t too shabby. They are delicious, beautiful and a nice intermediate size compared to my storage onions. I’m sold on onions in the greenhouse, even though it is expensive real estate compared to the outside gardens, for me it was a good use of that space. And in the waste not, want mode, I am planting the sprouting torpedo onions in pots for green onions now, and for seed saving… .