I’m back in the garden today digging up the onions. I’ve temporarily converted the chicken coop to the onion drying coop; and then I’ll bag them and store them in the basement for the winter.
All my garden beds are raised and I don’t keep a designated spot for onions so I squeeze a few sets into each bed around the boarder. I never grow enough to last through the winter months but I do harvest enough to say I did it and have garden fresh for a few months.
I top them and use the greens in salads and recipes when they are young and tender but once the tops droop over it’s time to dig them up. I use a pitch fork or just pull them by hand depending on how loose the soil is.
Here’s a few tips:
• Harvest them on an overcast day
• Dig them up when it’s dry, not right after a rain
• Let them form a paper like coating on the outside in a well ventilated space
• This is personal preference either cut the top back and just store the onion or store top and all
• Keep in a cool, well ventilated area for storage
• Check every other week and take out any that are spoiling
The meat chickens have all been butchered and put in the freezer so I thought why not use the coop as a place to dry the onions. I wasn’t going to build any fancy drying racks (just something else to store) so I used what was already hanging around the coop. There was a cut length of chicken wire that was used to keep chicks divided from bigger birds so I used that as my drying rack.
I coiled it up on the floor and started stacking onions on top of that. Anything will work as a drying rack as long as air can circulate in and around the onions. After a few days of them drying I go in a knock any dirt off the onions now that it’s had time to dry.
I also only dig up the onions on a cool overcast, dry day. Don’t dig them up in the rain or after a rain. The sun will start to dry them out too quickly so a dreary day is best. I gathered mine up in an old wash tub as I was digging.
Once the outside skin becomes paper like I’ll gather them into mesh bags and store them in our cool basement. If you don’t have a basement a cool shed or garage will work. Onions are easy to grow and I’m always happy when I get to cook with things from our own little garden and its fun seeing all the ways I can use up a tiny bit of space in the raised beds.
Last year I grew scallions and we couldn’t keep up with eating them so this year I think sweet onions was a better choice for us. I’m also picking zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and the sunflowers bloomed this week. Yikes it certainly feels like fall when I see the sunflowers