Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gardening Thursday – Onions, Garlic, And Tomatoes

As I’m sure you know, we eat lots of onions and we also eat plenty of garlic so for  several years I’ve been growing ours.  I can’t say that what I grow is fundamentally better than what I buy in the store, but the garlic is a little more powerful and the onions have just the flavor we like.

For several years I’ve grown several garlic varieties in hopes of finding the one we like best and each year something messes it up.  But this year, I knew what I planted where and I was careful to label it when harvested.  I bought my bulbs to plant from Seed Savers Exchange and grew four varieties – Georgian Crystal, German Extra Hardy, Broadleaf Czech, and Chet’s Italian Red.  For our area, I plant mine in early November before it gets too wet, after which it puts out some small tops and settles in for the winter.  If you decide to grow some, bear in mind that different types (soft neck, hard neck) do better in warm and cold temps – garlic generally likes cold winters.

Here they are hanging on the Easy-Up over my BBQ area to dry for a few days, then I’ll remove the roots and relocate them to the downstairs garage.  Removal of the roots is important as it can wick moisture from the bulb just as it moves it into the bulb from the ground – same for onions.  I was a week or so late getting them out of the ground and some had already lost their outer wrappers - they should be harvested when they still have three green leafs.

The onions we have settled on are Superstar and we buy the slips from Dixondale Farms.  This white variety is sweet, but has a little more flavor than a Vidalia.  Like garlic, growing onions is pretty easy if a few basic conditions are followed.  First, the right variety (long day, intermediate day, short day) needs to be grown for your area.  Secondly, they need to be planted early enough to allow lots of leaf development before bulbing begins.  Each leaf will become one onion layer so the more leaves, the bigger the onion.  Bulbing begins when the right amount of daylight for the variety begins to occur. 
Here’s a shot of my chief onion puller, granddaughter Riley, who, after a few instructions, harvested the crop while I tied and suckered my tomatoes.

This is the trailer when she finished and one of the larger ones – a little bigger than a softball.
I’ve laid them out in the green house for a few days to dry some then I’ll remove the roots and tie them similar to the garlic to finish drying.  After that, I’ll remove the tops and store in the cool dry garage.
I’ve got the greenhouse roof fan set to run full time and I have an oscillating fan blowing on them as well.  For you young folks, this is a device that was used to cool folks (you better sit down for this) prior to air conditioning. 

I’ve always been told that if you have ripe tomatoes here on July 4th, you’ve done good and I think I’ll make it.

I may have posted that I grow Kada Hybrid and Quimbaya paste tomatoes for most of our canning and here’s one reason why - 3 different plants.
All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by Almost Heaven South.

One year ago:  BBQ Day two



  1. What beautiful onions and garlic! I use a lot of both, but have to buy mine. I keep meaning to grow some garlic, but have not done so as yet. My friend gave me some sweet onions that they grew and OMG, they are delicious. I am going to have two ripe tomatoes by the 4th! Your garden is lovely.

  2. Your garden is amazing, Larry. And it's great that you have such a good helper. You have the onions and tomatoes down to a science and it looks like all your careful planning is really paying off. Love this post.

  3. I've never tried to grow garlic. Obviously don't have room now, every vacant spot of dirt is home to a tomato plant. Amazing garden Larry! Great post.

  4. There are times that I wish I lived in a lower altitude. This is one of those times! Fresh tomatoes by the 4th of July??? I WISH! Heck here in CO I'm lucky to get a ripe tomato by the end of July :( Your garden looks amazing & wow I'm impressed with the onion haul! WOW!

  5. I love growing garlic - and plant it in the fall each year. It's not ready for harvest until much later up here, though. And we're just starting to get tomatoes to set! Thank goodness for the crazy long days up here or we'd never get any to ripen. And the saying up here is that corn should be "knee high by the forth of July."

  6. And your garden is amazing! Did you make pesto with the garlic scapes?

  7. Cute little helper you have there. I'm sure you weren't sorry to miss all that bending over!

  8. We got our first ripe ones off this week, thanks to you!

  9. Good looking garlic! I must use garlic in cooking several times a week. I just don't have enough sunny spaces to devote to growing my own.

  10. What a bumper crop! I am so impressed with your gardening and the great variety you have planted. So much fun to watch some one else's garden since I cannot have my own due to lack of sunlight. I do keep herbs! I had to give up the one at school since I will not be teaching this year. But it is filled with tomatoes that seeded over.


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