See the onions swooning and collapsing

See the onions swooning and collapsing

The day comes. 

The hour comes when all the onions have swooned in the garden and collapsed their upright stems unto the earth.  Then you know. 

It’s time to harvest.

Time to get to work and dig those onions out of the soil.  Separate the greenery from the bulb.  And then your work is only getting started.

Some of the bulbs look ready to leap from the earth into the frying pan.

Some of the bulbs look ready to leap from the earth into the frying pan.

So you pull ’em up.  You toss the green stems into the woods.  Then you move the pails-full of onions over to the hose.  You carefully squirt well water unto the bulbs, scrubbing off the outer layer of dirt.  (That’s so you don’t fill your sink and septic system with mud.)  Your back may well hurt as you hunch over the individual bulbs, scrubbing and removing the outer layers of dirt and onion-skin.  Don’t complain.  It will simply make the job pass slowly.  Instead, attempt to admire each individual onion with its unique markings, colors, patterns. 

Onions await their first hose-bath

Onions await their first hose-bath

OK.  Then you think you should be done, right?  WRONG!!  Now you gather all those newly washed onions and place them back in the newly washed pail.  You lug it inside the house and dump the onions in the sink.  Now comes the second cleaning.  When you’re finally done, load the pail up again.  Now bring the pail over to the boards covered with newspaper which sit innocently enough in the corner of the living room.  Place the washed onions on the newspapers to dry. 

When the drying ceases (in maybe two or three days) load them in the pail again and carry them downstairs to your son’s empty bedroom and lay them on newspaper on his old desk.  Then commence to go up and down the stairs until at least Christmas or New Years, lugging up the onions for cooking purposes.  Now the skillet will be ready for them to sizzle and saute and engage your taste buds.

Mother Putnam looms over the onions

Mother Putnam looms over the onions

The above photo didn’t turn out as clear and lovely as anticipated.  Nonetheless, I wanted you to meet Mother Putnam.  Do you see the old Victorian lady (probably hunched over her Bible) sitting near our computer cord?  I would like to say that she’s looking over the onions, but we’ve never seen her glance up from her book.  Mother Putnam belonged to my grandma and grandpa and somehow I begged to inherit her.  Barry keeps threatening to put her in the basement, but I simply will not allow it.  She’s too precious.  However, we have no clue who or what Mother Putnam is.  Has anyone ever heard of this?  I tried to Google her once, but she proved elusive.  I will pay in onions if anyone breaks the secret of her origins.

Or maybe cilantro.

The roots of cilantro sticking up in the air

The roots of cilantro sticking up in the air

I am showing you the roots of cilantro because I think they look more noble and interesting than the frizzy hair it has recently developed.  The soft frizzy cilantro-hair always means it’s time to harvest.  So up come the roots!  The work now is less cumbersome than the dirty onions.  At least it is this year.

In previous years I’ve scissored off the cilantro leaves and frozen them.  That takes time.  Much time.  It’s a pain.  But very delightful to have frozen cilantro for months to come.  This year, however, I am taking the advice of other gardeners and drying it.  So I tied all the pieces together with a white piece of yarn and hung it in the shed.

In the far corners of the shed...the cilantro dries

In the far corners of the shed...the cilantro dries

So now that we have the onions and cilantro bedded down for the harvest, it’s time to peer around the garden and see what else is ready to eat.  (There’s a disaster in the bean fence, let me tell you!  A sheer disaster.  We planted some bulk seeds, two kinds of beans.  But guess what comes up?  One kind of beans, and…sigh…more blasted peas!  Yes.  We have peas and beans intertwined in the bean fence like some bizarre horror horticulture scene.)

Guess what is ready to eat?  Broccoli!  Just when we thought we’d have no broccoli (second coldest July on record), up pop two dignified heads.  Because we weren’t anticipating it, we almost missed it.  It might have blossomed into flowers in a day or two.  Luckily, all is well.  We ate broccoli for dinner tonight and we’ll have broccoli for dinner tomorrow night, as well. 

Lovely brocoli

Lovely broccoli

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