Squirrely Onions and Bluestem Days


When nearly every recipe we cook has onions in it, I feel compelled to grow lots of onions. The fresh, succulent, bulbs have spiced up life all summer, and now it’s time to harvest the rest of the crop for winter consumption. Sometimes it seems the whole summer is directed toward our winter comfort and survival.

Anyway, the onions got watered a few times and have turned out to be nice. The key to having onions all winter, is storage. The key to storage has much to do with growing the right variety. We start our onions in the greenhouse in February and put them into the garden in May. The variety I use is called Copra, and it stores extremely well, usually until the “winter” onions are ready to eat in May or June. As I checked the onions, the other day I found out the tops had mostly bent over and their growing time was done. I decided to pull them out, cut the tops off at the point where they bent over, and put them into crates that allow good air circulation. The crates were placed into the shed which gets pretty warm this time of year. The warmth, combined with good air circulation “cures” the onions. I will leave them in the shed until it gets so cold that I fear they will freeze. They are then transferred to the cool but frost- free winter storage area.

The potatoes have also quit growing, but I will leave them in the ground awhile longer as they store best in the dark, cool soil. The grapes are getting close to the proper sugar content for winemaking. Since this is my first year to allow grapes to set on my new planting, the adventure of attempting winemaking lies before me. More on that later! There is so much to do in flyover country right now.

The native big bluestem grass is particularly lush this year. The dry summer has suited it well and its purple hues brighten our prairie. The subtle changes are beginning as days shorten and we near the autumn equinox. Vegetable production is at its peak, telling us to put some away for later and enjoy the fresh now. If one looks around, it’s not hard to tell what we should be doing. The squirrel tribe has had it figured out for a long time. It’s time to get a bit squirrely!



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One thought on “Squirrely Onions and Bluestem Days

  1. Your story made me recall the summer days of my youth in the 1950’s when I would help my mother with the plantings, weeding and harvesting of our family garden plots. We had several gardens, plus lots of flowers in the yard. My mother grew up during the depression on a large farm on the Red river a few miles south of Moorhead. A large garden back then meant survival and good health. I learned to love the fresh vegetables, especially the onions and radishes. Digging up the potatoes was like finding buried treasure although we bought most of our potatoes from an uncle who grew hundreds of acres of the famous ‘Minnesota Reds’. Thank you for a nice memory of long ago.

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