Here's what the onions looked like the other day. The greens on a few of the varieties had toppled over, a sign that they have matured enough to lift and cure.
|Di Maggio Cippollini|
|Cippollini and Rossa Piatta d'Italia Onions|
There was a lot of soil clinging to the roots so I gave them a quick rinse and set them out on the garden path to dry a bit.
|L to R: Rossa Piatta d'Italia, Di Maggio Cippollini, Tropea Rossa Tonda|
I improvised a drying rack made from a length of old wire fencing set up under the dappled shade of an oak tree. I pull the tops through the fencing and let it hang below. There's plenty of air circulation around the onions and other than foggy nights the humidity here is very low. Rain is definitely not an issue so I can just leave them uncovered until the tops and outer layers dry out and they develop a protective skin. Then I'll trim the tops back, not all the way, I like to leave a good 6 inches of the tops which seems to help prevent pathogens from getting into the bulbs. This is the setup and method that I used last year and it worked great.
After I lifted the three varieties that had flopped over I went through the patch and bent the necks on the rest of the onions to help them along. I need this space to plant out some Romanesco broccoli and cauliflower seedlings that I've already got growing for the fall/winter garden.
So here's a few observations about the varieties I grew this year:
Rossa Piatta d'Italia - this variety resisted bolting, not one of them produced a flower stalk. However, a few of them did split. Splitting isn't ideal but it's better than bolting. I love that intense color so I will probably try these again next year. I also like that they matured fairly early. I'm going to have to do some research about splitting to see if there's something I my try to prevent it.
Tropea Rossa Tonda - This one matured early as well and it resisted splitting, but there were a couple of bolters. I can put up with a small portion of the onions bolting since I can use those right away. You can see in the photo of them on the rack that they produced some nice sized well shaped bulbs so I'm probably going to try them again next year.
Rossa Savonese - This one won't be returning next year because at least half of them bolted.
Rossa Lunga di Firenze - I grew this one last year and I was quite happy with it. There were a few bolters last year but this year all of them resisted. It's a torpedo shaped sweet onion, not a storage onion, but they will store for at least a couple of months if cured properly. I'll be growing it again next year. You can see them in that last photo, they are standing fairly tall on the left.
Exhibition - This is an extra-large sweet yellow onion, not a keeper. My biggest complaint is that the seeds didn't germinate very well. I ended up setting out only 8 or 9 seedlings. But they've grown well and they are about ready to lift. None of them bolted but a couple split. I might be trying them again next year.
Yellow Sweet Spanish Utah - Another large sweet yellow onion. Just about every one of these bolted. They won't be back.
Ramata di Milano - Another yellow onion, supposedly a good storage onion. They all bolted as well. Bye bye!
That's all the varieties that I tried other than I'Itoi which I wrote a bit about on my July 11 Harvest Monday post. I'm still searching for a yellow or white storage onion and have already ordered seeds for a few varieties that Territorial Seed Company is offering. They have 3 yellow intermediate day length onions that are supposed to be good for overwintering. Gate Keeper, Top Keeper, and Keepsake onions each sound promising. I also added Desert Sunrise, a red cippollini type, to the order. And Zoey, a sweet yellow onion that is supposed to keep up to 4 months somehow found its way into the shopping cart as well.