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.
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.