Code Word: Red Candy Apple

Friday, February 21, 2014


The "Package"
Psst! Hey buddy? Know that "thing" we were talking about? The "package" has arrived my friend. Expect a visit from Mr. X at any time now. Know what I'm talking about?
 
Of course you have no idea of what I'm talking about! I have no idea of what I'm talking about! And if you can understand what I don't -- well -- perhaps I need to add a second cyst to my skull so it can make friends with the first.
 
ONIONS!
I am a bit hesitant from doing my best Steve Martin impression by screaming to the whole world: "The New Onions are Here! The New Onions are Here!" Because, as Martin so artfully acted in The Jerk, "things are going to start happening to me now." And they did. But not quite in the way he expected.
 
You see, if you recall last year's madcap onion escapade, there's a good reason to be worried. Yes -- the 2014 crop of new onion starter plants has arrived from Dixondale Farms in (flat as a) Pancake, Texas. Unlike last year, the onion plants arrived on time and in excellent condition.
 
Perhaps SMERSH has turned its attention to other endeavors.
 
Onion plants, you say? Not onion bulbs? That would be correct. I'm done with planting onion bulbs in October and hoping for a good harvest come next June. Sometimes that harvest can be good. Sometimes it can be bad. But that's not the case with onion starter plants grown by our fine onion-loving friends at Dixondale Farms. They've been at this trade for a decade or nine. They know what they're doing.
 
Onion Plant Starters-Dixondale Farms
Suffice to say -- a box of onion starter plants from Dixondale Farms has never let me or the wife that is Venus down. We plant a lot of onions in the Bird Back 40. That's because we go through our share of onions. You can find those onions in every jar of lip-smacking Roasted Garlic, Pepper and Heirloom Tomato Salsa. You can find them onions in every jar of tomato sauce we can. And you can find them in nearly every summer and fall meal we make and consume.
 
The arrival of our box of onion starters also provides a good excuse to dedicate a weekend afternoon to digging up those Bird Back 40 planter boxes and adding all sorts of amendments that are good for the soil and good for the onions to boot. I can't begin to tell you the satisfaction of digging into a raised gardening bed only to find a nest of big, fat, red earthworms wriggling around inside.
 
Soil Amendment Time!
It means that box of fish bait that I added last summer to improve the soil sailed right through the winter months. It means that I was judicious in my use of fertilizer, and didn't over-fertilize to the point where I chased the earthworms into the next yard. Night Crawler worms aren't just good eatin' for catfish -- they spice up the local raised gardening bed as well.
 
But I digress.
 
The onion starter plants we put into the soil this year are exactly the same that we put into the ground last year. Why do the same crop over and over again? Because the fine folks at Dixondale Farms only offer three varieties of onions for Intermediate Day locations. And Sacramento happens to be SMACK DAB in the middle of an intermediate day location.
 
Super Star Onions (Delicious)
But, suffice to say, those time-tested varieties of Candy, Red Candy Apple and Super Star have never let us down. Each bunch of all three varieties delivers a whopper of yellow, red and white onions. Some of those onions wind up on the doorsteps of our onion-loving neighbors, this is true, but the vast majority is put to good use in the Bird Family kitchen.
 
We get so many of these onions that I'm actually SHAMED when I'm forced to head out to the local grocery store to actually BUY onions. Unfortunately, our harvest doesn't last for the entire 12 months of the year. There comes a point, late in winter my friends, when (I'm ashamed to admit) we must buy our onions like everyone else at the local supermarket.
 
Venus Plants Onions!
Oh, the shame of it all.
 
Are store bought onions as good as home-grown onions? Does Superman enjoy Kryptonite? OF COURSE NOT! That's why we plant onions. Because, well, home grown onions are just darned good and darned good for you.
 
And so -- with great trepidation -- I deliver the news that the 2014 onion plant starters have not only arrived -- they've all been planted.
 
Garden Patrol Cat with Chew Toy Dog
This means if some nefarious character attempts to dig them up? They first must do battle with Lenny, the Maine Coon Garden Patrol Cat. Lenny, at last report, weighed in at svelte 25 lbs. It's safe to say that Lenny enjoys his meals. And every meal that Maine Coon giant can get his greedy little paws on.
 
You have been warned.

4 comments:

MAYBELLINE said...

I feel your shame. Oh well, perhaps your purchase of onions helps to support a local farmer. Heaven knows they need help this year.

Anonymous said...

I have never grown onions and this post got me curious so I checked out Dixondale. So now I have to ask: their planting instructions note planting 16 inches apart and in your picture they look much closer. Have you found that you don't need to give them that much room? How close do you plant? Our garden is small so closer is better for us but I want thtem to thrive!

Bill Bird said...

I don't have the kind of room that Dixondale Farms prefers for onion spacing and I've found that I don't really need to give it that kind of room. I get extra fat onions with three inches of spacing -- much larger than anything I buy at the store. Do they all turn out like this? Of course not. Some are smaller than others -- some larger. But I will tell you that three inches of spacing between plants is more than enough room to get plenty of very large and very tasty onions.

Maxie Spunky said...

I like apples and i see many garden which are full of apples.