September 10, 2021
I have been wavering on whether to tear into the overgrown mess that began as my onion sets last June. Melissa had reminded me at that time that I had vowed (several times) to never grow onions again. My gardener friend had grown red onions last year and they were beautiful. I had tried yellow onions. Few sprouted and the ones that did, did not grow. Still, I succumbed to the alure of fresh onion completing the trifecta of onions, peppers, and tomatoes from my own garden that comprise salsa. I thought perhaps if I grew red onion this year the results would be different. I had let my cilantro go to head without harvesting, but if I could only get an onion this year . . .
When I looked online, I found the red onion is a cultivar of the onion (Allium cepa) species, and have purplish-red skin and white flesh tinged with red. The yellow, white, and red onion are all varieties of the same species. Red onion is commonly used in cooking, but the skin of the red onion has also been used as a dye. These onions tend to be medium to large sized and have a sharp flavor and eye-watering qualities. They are often consumed raw (added to salads for color and bite), grilled, or lightly sautéed with other foods. Red onions are available throughout the year. Red onion is high in flavonoids and fiber compared to white and yellow onion. Cut red onion can be soaked in cool water for a period, and the water can be drained off. This results in less “bite” and pungency. My thought was, why would you do that, when that is why you selected the red onion in the first place?
After planting 50 onion sets this year only 20 of the bulbs sprouted. Still, I thought, 20 onions were better than none. I had weeded the bed during the season and confirmed they were still doing well. With the heat and the rain, the bed had again become overgrown and frankly, I ignored the onion sets. When I weeded my onion patch today, I found what I expected to find. Only two of the onion sets had survived, and they were the same size as when I had planted them. I knew they were mature as their green tops had withered and died. My hope of fresh onion had been dashed one more time. This time I am not saying, “Never Again!”, but probably not next year.
Thoughts: Much of what we do in life is based on hope and expectation. That has been true every time I decide to once more plant an onion. When our hope is fulfilled, we are overjoyed. When it is not, we are forced to refocus and try again. Last May we were told “if” people would continue to wear their mask, social distance, and get vaccinated, we would be able to gather in backyards by the 4th of July celebration. Instead, governments across America dropped mask mandates and vaccination rates fell dramatically. The Delta variant exacerbated our lack of action, and hope and expectation has become another wave of mostly unvaccinated infections and hospitalizations. Hope and expectation rarely succeed on their own. We also need to do the work to make them happen. Do the work. Follow the science. Change is coming and it starts with you.