BECAUSE MY SUMMER VEGGIE GARDEN has to feed me during winter, I’m careful to harvest and store whatever I grow. I’ve already “put up” green beans and kale. Next up? About 300 onions. To keep the bulbs fresh all winter and beyond, they must first be cured in the sun. Next, they must be stored in a manner that does not invite rot. The following program works for me:
Onions are ready for harvest when their green tops fall over. After lifting the bulbs, brush or shake off loose soil. Then lay them out in a single layer in the sun, on some type of surface that will permit ventilation from below. I spread mine out on window screens, balanced between chairs, blocks or raised beds in the kitchen garden. The bulbs are permitted to “cure” in sun and air for 2-3 weeks, or until their outer skins turn papery, and their green stalks wither and brown. Curing is vital to winter-storage success.
Here, freshly-harvested onions “cure” on an old window screen
It is imperative that bulbs remain dry throughout the curing period. At the first threat of rain, either move the onions to a sheltered location until fair skies return, or cover the bunch with burlap.
After curing, cut off all but one inch of stem. Then store the bulbs in a dim, dry, cool place, such as a cellar or unheated attic. Some gardeners like to pile their onions in a woven basket for the cool duration, but I have found this arrangement leads to rot. A better plan is to secure the onions in such a way that they receive maximum ventilation. And this plan involves — you guessed it — pantyhose.
Cut the “panty” from the panty hose. Then place within a detatched leg one onion, and above it, tie a knot. Continue this knotting and onioning until the stocking is sufficiently filled.
The bulbs, secure in their lingerie-quarters, can be suspended from either a hook or a rafter. To facilitate hanging, I like to insert a length of 22-gauge wire through the top knot. And when an onion is required, I simply cut or tear an opening in the stocking, and retrieve a single bulb.
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