Another “last of…”

Poor (no, make that BAD, disgusting, cold, wet, frustrating) weather gives one too much time to think!  You may recall that the last of the 2017 season carrots were eaten the last day of March.  Today, the last of the “Red Torpedo” onions were used and joined the “must grow more of” list.  In fact, I used lots of various onions that were beginning to sprout to make a delicious French onion soup.  Of the onions grown in 2017, the poorest storage results were the generic white onion sets purchased locally.  They were used up quickly before winter even set in.  The next to go was “Flat of Italy.”  My other complaint was that their tops were too weak to braid, so they were stored in mesh bags, which may have contributed to their rapid demise.  The “Red Bassano” fared better and there are still a few of them hanging on the rack in the garage.  However, the “Red Torpedo” have become one of my favorite onions, and even though they are not noted for good storage qualities, I feel lasting until mid-April is pretty darn good.  The proper name is “Red Long of Tropea” but around here it’s just “Torpedo” onions.  It will be a lengthy time before I can plant more, because they need a ground temperature of 75-80 degrees.  At this rate, that could be July!  Even though at this stage they are looking pitiful, there was still plenty of good eating in this final bunch.Onion Torpedo last compressed

While slicing the onions, thoughts of my great-grandmother, her generation and those before her filled my mind.  How much pressure they must have felt during the entire growing season to produce enough for their family!  How much panic did they feel when winter lingered over-long, and first one carefully grown and stored crop and then another disappeared from their shelves and root cellars?  The menu choice was ever-shrinking as the snow continued to fall.  How happy they must have been when that snow finally melted and foraged crops of wild onion and dandelion greens could be added to their diet!

My admiration for these pioneers grows with each day that the planting season is delayed.  For us, it means a few more trips to the grocery with a slightly longer list.  For them, it could have meant starvation.  No more complaining…I’m feeling blessed.

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About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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23 Responses to Another “last of…”

  1. Laurie Graves says:

    I have thought of this, too. My great-grandparents had a potato farm in northern Maine, but they, of course, grew much of their other food. I’m sure that they bought some supplies such as sugar and molasses. Anyway, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that their daughter, my grandmother, was the least fussy person I have ever known. I can’t recall that she ever disliked any kind of food. Makes a difference when you have to grow it, pick it, and store it yourself.

    Liked by 3 people

    • carolee says:

      I was beginning to feel the pressure of being so far behind, but thinking about our forebears’ true pressure makes mine meaningless and puts everything in perspective. Our lives are not dependent upon my potager, and that is a blessing that makes it truly a joy rather than a necessity. I just read “The Nightingale” about a French woman in WWII, who was already practically out of food when a horde of refugees from Paris went through her painstakingly tended garden like a plague of locusts, leaving her with nothing. The entire book put food as a whole, and certainly food waste in a new category for me.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Laurie Graves says:

        Yes, yes! So many of us take food for granted. And even today, food scarcity and hunger are issues for many people.

        Liked by 2 people

      • That’s why my ‘Resilience Garden’ has an understory of edible weeds – by the time city folks get to Somerset, they may have worked out what a carrot looks like above ground, but they’ll never go for the bittercress and groundsel! The late Spring is worrying, even the greenhouse is too cold to start a lot of things. Hope we have a long warm Autumn.

        Liked by 1 person

      • carolee says:

        We certainly deserve a long warm autumn to compensate for our lack of spring. I did notice a weeping willow turning that warm gold of early spring yesterday on my drive home so there are signs of hope.

        Like

  2. The weather here in the UK has not been a great start to spring to start our planting, but we have made a start.. We finished the last of Leeks two weeks ago, and have about three weeks worth of potatoes left.. Carrots we did not grow enough to last that long..
    Onions we are hit and miss with. So this time we have planted shallots.. They went into the outside ground on Monday.. The best day, as its been foggy and raining ever since..
    Good to be catching up with you again. Happy Gardening.

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    • carolee says:

      I will miss attending the Chelsea Flower Show this year as of course, I idolize the history of British gardens and gardeners. My leeks are thread-like at this point. I’ve never grown them successfully, but I keep trying!

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      • I only grow leeks as I can’t get onions to work, so I think you get the best deal! I noticed allotments in Wales and Scotland grew lots of leeks (and not much else), they must thrive in bad conditions.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Wishing you luck with this years leeks.. We got tickets for the RHS at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire for June this year again.. We went last year the first time they held it there and loved it.. So I can see why you would miss Chelsea. Love Chatsworth House Gardens at the best of times.. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. zipcoffelt says:

    My mother grew up on a chicken farm in southern NJ and I know they grew almost all their own food. I grew up near there, and I can’t imagine worrying about the weather and how well I’ll eat or won’t this year. Hope the cold and snow goes away so that we have some spring before summer arrives.

    Like

  4. bcparkison says:

    Most of us have it so easy today we don’t have a clue what it was like in the past. And…if the past were to repeat we would be in serious trouble.

    Like

  5. Cortney says:

    I can’t imagine how amplified the anxiety I feel over our mid-April snowstorm would be if I utterly depended on our garden for survival. Oy! Very impressed with your onion storage! I go back and forth on onions since they are so easily available and cheap at the store. I have sown some Cippolini seeds (per your inspiration!) and usually some shallots. Perhaps I should stuff a few more onions into my plan this year- Torpedo if I can find them!

    Liked by 1 person

    • carolee says:

      .Pinetree Seeds carries them, and I think Seeds of Italy. We had 82 degrees yesterday and I had to be in Indianapolis!!! Today it’s thunderstorms and tomorrow night 28 degrees but the days are definitely warmer, and I can see lots of changes in the potager already.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Helen says:

    So true how much easier it appears for us these days. However, we aren’t really living with food security, just the impression of it. Two days of snow in the U.K. in March led to zero milk in the shops. Of course, that is not a catastrophe but it doesn’t really take much to go from plenty to nothing!

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  7. Your last paragraph is so true. We make a longer list – they would have gone without. They were definitely made of sterner stuff than we are, and I guess that is why they chose the path for us to follow. 🙂 Your header shot looks just like what I’m seeing out the window today.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I was watching a show filmed in England recently (cannot remember what it was titled) when they were talking about “the hungry gap”. That is what late spring was called in pre-modern times, which the last of the garden produce was used up and no new food was available. I hadn’t thought of that before. In the book, The Long Winter, it talks about an unusually long and harsh winter for the Ingalls family. I read it out lout to my (then) elementary age son in mid-winter. I thought of you yesterday when it snowed. Again.

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    • carolee says:

      Fortunately, my pantry is still full, the freezer is full, and the allium rack is nearly filled. I’ve already started harvesting dandelions & chives so there is no real hunger gap here, but it does make me admire all those who survived before! It is hard to imagine living with no store or trading post within a several day or weeks’ journey, isn’t it?

      Like

  9. Same here – I cannot imagine being completely dependent on ones own resources (hunting, growing, preserving, trading). I feel insanely spoiled that i can just run to the Costco when I need more butter, rather than raise and milk the cow, separate the cream, churn it myself. I love doing that stuff but it’s more of a novelty for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • carolee says:

      I loved doing all those “homesteading” skills, but I also realize that now, at my age I couldn’t manage most of them. That’s where the “village” or the Amish multi-generalization scheme really shines.

      Liked by 1 person

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