by Tammy Taylor
This year has been a roller-coaster ride for RancherMan & me due to an unexpected illness. Thank goodness I had garden angels that surprised me at our house one beautiful spring morning and completely prepared all of our raised beds and planted my garden for me – what a blessing! I was able to harvest fresh veggies from my own garden this year because of the love and tender hearts of those sweet people.
But as I recovered from my illness the focus wasn’t on gardening and I had some failures where I normally wouldn’t have – one such failure was my crop of onions. I planted plenty, but I wasn’t able to tend to them as they grew and they just withered & disappeared beneath the straw mulch as the brutal drought gripped our area of Northeast Texas for the third year in a row. But recently I was pretty excited to see those little green tops peeking from beneath the soil – some of my onions were coming back!
Double Onion Sets
As I watched them grow it became apparent that they were beginning to double as they had in years past. Where one onion plant grew I could tell there were two (or more) onions within that same bulb.
Some onion bulbs had FIVE sets in them! So I raked back the mulch and pulled out the onions that are doubling. As I pull the onion from the ground I can clearly see a single bulb but two onion sets.
Separating Double Onion Sets
This is where it gets exciting. I take a curved knife and carefully cut away the outer part of the bulb. It’s softer than a normal onion so it’s easy to do. Then I peel back the layers until I get to the firm onion sets within the bulb.
Then with my curved knife I gently cut through any remaining membranes & separate the two sets and as I get to the roots I rock the knife gently back & forth to slowly slice through the roots, being sure to leave some roots on each onion set.
There were quite a few of the doubled onions in this row so I set to work pulling the bulbs, separating the sets, and replanting, then I gently re-covered the newly-planted sets with mulch. Where I once had a sad partial row of onions I now have a very full row of onions – so full in fact that I’ve had to scout elsewhere in my garden to plant the remaining onion sets. YES!
The onions may very well split again between now & spring – if they do I’ll just repeat the process. The last time my onions doubled like this I had a bumper crop, so many that we couldn’t even come close to eating them all fresh. I froze & dehydrated tons of them (I’m still enjoying some of the frozen purple onions in my cooking and my endless soup) My hope is that this year’s onions will provide the same kind of harvest – RancherMan does love his onions!