August 27

Harvest Monday

On Wednesday and Thursday last week the weather felt a bit autumny. Slightly cooler mornings with dew and balmy sunshine by mid day. Today we have strong winds and rain. I am very thankful for the rain as the allotments are so dry and I have been watering every other day even though the heatwave is well and truly over.

The harvests continue, however, regardless of the weather. I pick every two or three days just because I don’t want to miss anything. Below is Friday’s harvest.

I am still finding it difficult to believe that these are the last of my blackberries. I do have canes that ripen in October but I have moved them this year so there will be no harvests from them until next autumn.  I don’t know what type they are, they were given to me by a nearby allotmenteer, but they have long, stiff fairly upright canes and I had placed them where they caught all the prevailing winds.  The second time they were all blown over I decided to move them to a more sheltered spot which I have done.

The fennel bulbs are now big enough to start to harvest and they are delicious. I sowed three different types: Montebianco, Doux de Florence and Di Firenze (I’m not sure whether the last two are the same plant just with French and Italian names).  Whilst it has been a difficult year for fennel, the Montebianco has bolted very quickly with the Di Firenze producing good, round bulbs. I love roasted fennel where the edges go a little bit caramely  or raw in a salad with grapefruit, avocado and Manchego cheese.

The cabbage is Dutchman and has done very well.  It makes a very tasty slaw. I much prefer raw cabbage to cooked cabbage and so we eat a lot of this!

At the bottom of the basket are the onions I grew from seed. Let’s just say they are not enormous!    The seed sown onions were sown a little late but were regularly watered and were grown on a sandy soil.  The white onions are Aisla Craig, the red are Red Baron and the shallots are Figaro. As I look at the picture, the shallots definitely did better than the onions.

Not an impressive harvest.

A much better harvest.

The set onions have not been watered by me once, just rainfall, and were grown on a clay soil. I don’t know the variety because these were the last lot of sets in the supermarket near the garden and they had lost their labels. The onions are flat bottomed making them very irritating to peel so I wonder if they are Stuttgart Giant. I have no idea about the shallots.

I tried seeds  because I always found that the red onion sets bolted and I wondered if seeds were the way to go. Can you believe it? Neither seeds nor sets bolted this year. The conclusions from this very variable trial have not helped me decide one way or the other. I’ll run this trial again  next year but try and get the onion seed started earlier.

One thing I will say about both groups of onions is that shop bought onions rarely induce tears  but these make me cry copiously when cutting them. It must mean that they have more of the chemical compounds in them that do this and are therefore probably have more nutrients in general.

Do you use seed or sets when growing onions? How have they done this year?


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Posted August 27, 2018 by alijoy in category august, onions

11 thoughts on “Harvest Monday

  1. Will - Eight Gate Farm - NH

    Those really do look like Stuttgarter onions, which I’ve grown for a long time. I have a friend who swears that onions grown from seed grow bigger than sets. And you do get more of a choice with seeds. Me, I’ve had mixed results from seeds, but I’ll keep trying. Anyway, it’s more of an accomplishment to grow your own from scratch, rather than re-growing something somebody else grew last year.

    1. alijoy (Post author)

      Yes – I’ll keep trying. Isn’t that the phrase of a gardener/vegetable grower! Someone did tell me that sets were in short supply this year because of the weather so it might have to be seeds.

  2. Sue Garrett

    We use onion sets. I think we will give up on red onions as they never seem to do well. I’m also thinking of dumping Stuttgarter as I find the flatter onions not to be as easy to prepare. Generally our onion harvest is smaller than usual, in terms of individual onion size. We didn’t water our onions either, correction we probably watered a couple of times.

    We are eating lots of coleslaw too.

  3. Dave@HappyAcres

    I wish we had some autumnal weather here! It has been hot and humid the last week or so. We love roasted fennel here too but it doesn’t always do well for me. I grew onions from plants this year, and it was not a good year for them. The garlic struggled too, so I put it down to our extremely wet spring weather.

    We have blackberries with stiff, upright canes and they are prone to blowing over like you say. Ours are somewhat protected though and they generally stay up!

  4. Phuong

    Your tomatoes and apples look so pretty. And it’s so interesting how the onions from sets did so much better. I’ve given up on growing onions, I think they drown during our wet springs.

    1. alijoy (Post author)

      Other people on the same allotment site as me had wonderful set onions and seed onions so I suspect my problems are all down to how i grow them. Still – next year!

  5. Michelle

    I’ve grown all my onions from seeds but have had variable results. I think it comes down to how well a variety is adapted to your region and the weather. This year I didn’t grow any onions other than scallions because I had extreme problems with diseases last year.

    1. alijoy (Post author)

      I always wonder whether it is worth growing onions. They are so cheap in the shops and I could use the ground to grow better things. I have just bought some overwintering onions and shallots to try. Perhaps I should try seed for them as well if you can get it.

  6. Kathy

    This year the seed sown onions were amazing, with great big bulbs, whilst the sets developed into quite small bulbs with lots going to seed. I am going to try some other varieties from seed next year too. You have a good range of crops there!

    1. alijoy (Post author)

      The onions will probably vary every year and i will never make a decision about which is best as there is probably not one answer.


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