It’s official – the 2018 garden has been started! My first flat of seeds is on the heat mat. For me, I think the best part of this is playing in the dirt (and that’s definitely the best part of the deal for my kids). When everything is in a deep freeze for months, I really, really begin to miss, of all things, the soil. That texture, that smell, teaming with life! It’s really powerful stuff, that dirt.
Having dirt in my fingers in the cold of February wakes something up inside me. I’m fortified for this last stretch of winter with renewed hope for the coming warmth and life that spring and summer bring. I really need that boost in February, of all the months!
It’s still pretty early in the season here – roughly ten weeks before a 50% chance that we will have our last spring frost. So for now, I’ve planted all of my onion family – bunching, bulb, leeks. It’s also time to sow seeds for the celery family. Hello celeriac!!! (Oh I’m so excited for that one!)
I have a confession
I have never grown bulb onions before! This isn’t because we don’t use them. Oh, we fry them up into everything. Basically every recipe in this house begins with fried onions. Yum. There are two major reasons why I haven’t grown them before:
1. The seeds need to be started really early. I’m usually caught off guard, totally unprepared for the gardening season, truthfully! This year I’m doing alright time-wise and I was eager to plant my early crops. Even still, my onions could have been started even a couple weeks ago!
2. Onions are not the easiest of crops to grow; I just haven’t taken the time to figure them out. There are long day and short day onions – What does that even mean? They need good nutrition and my soil has not been that until the last year or two. They compete poorly with weeds. From my understanding, it’s difficult to get a solid, large onion in your harvest, so I’ve been buying them instead.
Not all onions are equal
I’m jipping us of some awesome flavors, diversity and even colors by taking that grocery-store route, though. This year I decided we’d had enough of bland onions. (Well, we’ll probably still have to buy some bland onions for the year since I would need to plant a half-acre of onions to sustain our yearly use!)
Sweet onions, pungent onions. I want to grow onions that taste good enough to eat raw. To slice them up thin on a summer burger or dice them raw into a summer relish. Pickled onions! Fermented onions? This year (I hope) is the year. First things first though – let’s get germinating!
And so begins the regular seedling checks! This is a task that 7yo R will assume a little responsibility for. Its so fun to see her excited for the growing season, too. Don’t forget to check out my article on other ways to involve children in this fun seed-stage of the garden!
What seeds are you starting right now?