Sunday, May 12, 2013


Last week, I wrote about our surprise May rain. Today, there is no more rain, only heat, surprise May heat: 99 right now and an expected 103 tomorrow. The flopped over onion tops called me outside into the heat anyway, and I have a hard time resisting the call of the vegetable, so I went out and harvested them.
Texas Legends, just after harvest.
Hybrid Southern Belles, just after harvest. 
I've never had success with onions like I did this year. After seeing my parents' gorgeous onions the last couple years, I ordered seedlings from their source, Dixondale Farms, then planted them right away when I received them in January in soil well-amended with compost and bonemeal. I kept them watered through the dry winter and spring.

In my garden that smelled like sweet onion salads, summertime picnics, and prepping for hamburger cookouts, I placed an old rack over my red wagon and created a portable drying rack I can roll in and out of the shed. The onions will dry out on the wagon-rack until the tops are wispy and the outer layers are silky wrappers. Since they're sweet onions, they won't last too long, so we'll be eating them in all sorts of incarnations around here in the next couple months.

Inside the shed, more garlic has joined the varieties I've already harvested. This week, I pulled up the Red Toch, a reliable Artichoke variety. Basque Turban and Belarus, early varieties I already posted about, are coloring beautifully as they dry.

Red Toch
Basque Turban, like other Turban varieties, gets pretty candy stripes that darken to purple when completely dry.
Belarus is beginning to get pretty color, too.
Back outside, under bird netting, Jewel blueberries are beginning to color. Summer is coming, and I'm hungry for it.


Michelle said...

It is toasty down your way! It's warm here too, warmer than expected for this time of year. Your onions look great and I've bookmarked Dixondale to check out later. I was totally shocked to find one of my garlic varieties had started to flop over this past week and it seemed that it was time to harvest. I've generally not harvested garlic until June, but then I went back and read the description and it turns out that "Red Janice" is extra early. Do you peel off the dirty skins from your garlic? Your heads are so perfectly clean!

Christina said...

Hi Michelle! I've grown Red Janice before and it is a really early variety--all the Turban varieties are super early. I let my garlic dry out for a few days after I harvest it, then pull off the outer, dirty layer and trim the roots. Then I either hang it or lay it out on screens to dry unti the tops are completely shriveled, which takes a couple weeks. Once it is cured for storage, I trim off the tops, label seed stock with a Sharpie, and place the rest in mesh bags. I usually have two large mesh bags, one for garlic that doesn't keep long and the other for garlic that does, so I make sure to eat the short term keepers first. From your posts, it sounds like you're having a relatively rust-free winter and that you'll have a good garlic crop this year. Here's hoping that you have lots of fat heads of pretty garlic!

Pasadena Adjacent said...

this is good news - blueberries. I was going to ask you if they could grow in Southern California.

I picked up a plant they were selling outside the Vons in La Cananda. You know how sometimes they'll sell a plant that doesn't work here, like cherries? thats what I was thinking after the purchase. Do you have any suggestions as to where i should plant it?

Christina said...

Hi PA. Yes, some varieties of blueberries grow well here; Sunshine Blue is the easiest, but Misty, ONeill, Jewel, Emerald, and a few others will do it too. They need to be bred for our climate. The same is true for cherries--there are actually two low-chill cherries (Royal Lee and Minnie Royal) that pollinate each other and grow and produce well here. I have them both and they finally produced a bit of a crop (after three years--I'm impatient! Cherries mature more slowly than other trees.)

Christina said...

PA: Oh, and yes, suggestions about where to plant the blueberry . . . sorry, I got carried away by cherries. Blueberries need acidic soil, and we have really alkaline soil and water. So, a planter is a good choice. I filled a giant concrete bin with peat (it was a tough choice to choose peat, but I really wanted blueberries) for them. The bin is partially shaded by a persimmon tree, at least in the hottest part of the day. With regular water, they do really well there. I think blueberries are pretty plants.

Soilman said...

What stunning garlic. I am SO jealous. Can't grow it at all.