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Growing onions is a bit of a commitment, I am realizing. At least when it comes to garden space. Last October is when I believe we planted these guys and now, nine months later, we are finishing the harvest. They are super low-maintenance and have been coming into our kitchen to feed us in various stages since around December. But in planning the fall/winter/spring gardens, I am trying to remember that these guys take up space for some time.

We harvested green onions throughout the winter and have been eating the bulb onions for a few months now, nearly daily making the base of a stir-fry with whatever greens, beans, or squash we’re harvesting. I don’t know for sure but I suspect it is because of the cutting of the green onions that many of them went to seed. That combined with the hot weather gave us the push to go ahead and harvest the remaining onions in the next two weeks.


The seed flowers are lovely. They smell of chives and those that we brought in had these buds at all different stages. Annabelle asked to help harvest the seed so she patiently sat on the steps sorting tiny black seeds from the buds and the still gentle flowers. We saved the little black onion seeds and then she ended up with a scant cup of the buds.

They reminded me of capers and, inspired by Shaye’s Dandelion Capers, I set out to ferment them in a simple brine.


After a few days they were bubbling and the brine was cloudy. They are a little difficult to keep below the level of the brine, even with my heavy duty fermentation weight, but I suspect fermenting a larger quantity would solve that problem.

Lacto-Fermented Onion Bud Capers


  • 1 cup onion buds
  • enough water to substantially cover buds (~1 cup)
  • 1.5 teaspoons salt


Remove buds from onion flowers and place in a pint jar. Add salt and cover buds with water by at least 1/2″. Add a fermentation weight to submerge the onion buds below the level of the brine.

Seal the jar and allow to ferment at room temperature for 1-2 weeks or until they are tangy enough for your liking. Be sure to “burp” your jar daily during the first week to release the carbon dioxide produced as a by-product of fermentation.



This week we started putting the garden to bed for the summer. Back in the Midwest, July through September were the pinnacle of the garden, market, and food preservation period. It has literally taken me years to get out of that rhythm and swing into a rhythm that takes into account the impact the heat has on crops here. You can take the girl out of Minnesota and all that…


So we are now at the end of what I call the early summer gardening season. This is when we do things like squash and tomatoes and many of the summer crops we would have grown June through September up north. But once July and the general trend towards mid-90 to triple digit temperatures hits, these guys struggle. Add to that the fact that some years we see very little rain during July and August and it really doesn’t make sense to push hard for a garden during these months.

So this week we chop-and-dropped the squash plants and covered them in a thick layer of hay and somewhat composted manure. The green beans and collard greens are on the chopping block for the same treatment next week. All of this is in preparation for a season that is generally cooler and generally sees more rain – the fall garden.


These cucumbers are still producing despite the heat, though I do think their flower production has slowed down. We are watering regularly using the solar-powered pump in our pond. That combined with the bits of rain we are getting have really helped.

But I imagine it won’t be long before these guys give out too and we’ll put this area to bed for the summer.


That leaves us with what I call the deep summer crops. These guys are the ones who stand tall on a 100-degree afternoon and tend to use less water. Sweet potatoes, black-eyed peas, and okra are what we generally grow during this period and I’ve just started to see the first okra blossoms forming this week. Pumpkins and pole beans are being experimented with this summer as well.


So right now we are eating cucumbers, green beans, collard greens, garlic, and onions from our garden. This is the first year we’ve planted a larger number of onions and I am sold on it being a yearly happening. Stewart planted a few bags of bulbs last fall – maybe one to two hundred?

Well, I made the mistake of probably picking way too many green onions over the winter so many of them went to seed. Still, for a family that can eat 3-5 pounds of onions per week, I haven’t had to purchase onions for several months. I think we’ve probably eaten through at least 60% of them and the rest we’ll harvest over the next week or two since the tops are dying back.

I remember the day that the seeds from which this food came went into the ground. I remember the bags of onions Stewart meticulously planted in the pallet garden… and the bunches and bunches the girls planted haphazardly in the chicken field. I remember Stewart and Abram planting those 16 squash plants… and the squash hill he gave Annabelle. I remember the sunny spring day Ruthie carefully squatted next to Stewart to put the cucumber seeds in the ground. I remember the evening she knelt beside Stewart and I for bean planting. And I remember the night Annabelle, Stewart, and I planted okra just hours after the 2017 garlic harvest. We finished just as it began to rain.

There was also the day the boys helped me plant potatoes and the pots of eggplant and peppers they stood beside me to start. As has been the case every season, at least a portion of the crops we planted failed. It has been a part of every gardening season, though as the soil has been fed and enriched, the complete garden failures have lessened.

I’m not sure how to convey my gratitude for this process – the food yes, but mostly the process – and the way it has nourished our family in ways that can’t be seen at the dinner table.