About this Author
Willi Evans Galloway loves to read, write, talk about, and teach people how to garden organically and grow their own food. For the past five years, she has worked as the West Coast Editor of Organic Gardening magazine. Willi also recently created www.digginfood.com, a site that serves up gardening and cooking inspiration. Willi lives in Seattle with her husband, four pet chickens, a lawn-destroying Labrador, and way too many tomato plants.
Hi, I'm Jon, and I'm Willi, and we grow a lot of our own food at our little urban homestead here in Seattle. We've got chickens, we've got peas and out in our big vegetable garden we've got onions. And today on "Grow. Cook. Eat.", we're going to talk about how to grow them. We're going to make a flat bread and we're going to enjoy a great snack. Onions are an awesome crop to grow in your own garden because they're such a staple in the kitchen. We use onions all the time at home, and when you grow your own, you have access to a huge range of varieties that you don't normally have. I think I'm going to head outside and start unpacking the onions. Alright, I'll be here thinking about onions. Okay. So, onions are a great crop to grow in the garden because you have a big choice of varieties that are hard to find at the grocery store. And also when you grow them in the garden you can harvest them at different stages. You can harvest them as scallions, and then you can also let some grow on and become big bulb onions. Today, I'm going to show you how to plant members of the onion family. And you have a couple choices with onions. You can grow them as seedlings or you can grow them as sets. I'm going to show you a really simple way to plant onion seedlings that's quick and easy. So, you want to start by taking the onion seedlings out of their pot and gently working them apart. And you want to try and preserve as much of the roots as possible. So, you can see here, this little teeny plant actually has quite a bit of roots. So, you want to get them separated out from each other. And there's usually five to ten seedlings per pot. Once you have them separated out, you want to go ahead and dig a trench that is about four inches deep. Then, lay the onions on one side of the trench. And space them about three inches apart. And you want to space them this close apart because what you'll do is as they grow you can harvest every other one, and then they'll be about six inches apart and you can leave those ones that remain to grow into the larger bulbs. So, get them in the trench and then all you do is you simply back fill the trench over the onions roots. And then lift them up so they're straight, standing straight. And take soil from the other side of the trench and firm the soil around each onion. Or, in this case, leaf. Once you get them planted you want to go ahead and water them really well. The thing to remember with all alliums, and alliums are members of the onion family, is that they have fairly shallow root systems. And so they need to have consistently moist soil in order for them to grow well. So, you want to get them all watered in, and then it's not a bad idea to mulch them with straw or grass clippings to help keep the soil cool and moist throughout the summer. So, now I'm going to show you how to harvest onions. So, onions are super easy to harvest. All you do is pull them straight up out of the ground. And if you're harvesting scallions, that's all you need to do. But, if you want to harvest onions for storage, when they begin to yellow on their tops, like this one, what you want to do is fold their necks over, right at the base. So, I've folded all these over. You just bend them down. And that prevents sap from flowing up into the leaves and then just concentrates energy on the bulb. And you can leave them like that for about a week. And then you pull them up out of the ground. And you just want to leave them to dry in a warm, dry spot. In a process that's called curing. And what that'll do is that'll just allow the papery skins to develop on the outside of the bulb. And that'll protect them from rotting in storage. So, you leave them in the warm, dry spot for a week. And then you can bring them indoors. Cut off their tops, or if you're going to braid them, you can braid them together as well. The only other thing that you need to keep in mind with onions is that you'll want to choose varieties that are going to do well in your area. So, in the south you'll need to choose short day varieties. And those are ones that mature when day lengths are typically under 12 hours. The Vidalia sweets are a really common short day variety. In northern areas, you'll want to choose long day varieties. So, those are varieties that mature when the days are over 12 hours. And Walla Walla sweets are a really popular long day variety. So, keep that in mind. And then otherwise just plant onions. They're super easy to grow, and they're so delicious when they're straight out of the garden. I'm just going to harvest one onion right now because that's all we need for the flat bread recipe and I'm going to head in and start on that. Today, I'm going to show you how to make a sweet onion and olive flat bread. And it's a super easy, simple recipe that really showcases the onion flavor. So, I've preheated the oven to 450, and I went ahead and washed the onion and peeled it. And the first thing we're going to do is slice the onion really thinly. I'm going to use a mandolin, which is a little tool that allows you to quickly and easily slice vegetables thinly. We're going to want some super thin onions for the flat bread. But you can also use a knife. You just want to make sure that it's really sharp. For this recipe, you'll just need half of a large onion thinly sliced. Okay, so get the onion sliced and then I'm going to roll out some pizza dough. And you can use homemade or store bought pizza dough, it doesn't matter. It's a nice, great recipe in that way that you can kind of cheat and use some homegrown ingredients and also some store bought ingredients. So, I'm going to use a half pound of pizza dough. This is a pound, so I'm just going to tear it in half. And then you want to flour your surface with some flour. And then, go ahead and flatten the dough into kind of an oval shape and then roll it out. You just want it to be about a quarter of an inch thick when you've got it fully rolled out. And you can sometimes stretch it too. That helps it. Okay, so once you get it rolled out nice and thin you're going to want to brush just a little bit of olive oil onto your cookie sheet so it doesn't stick. And then transfer the dough to the cookie sheet. And then we're going to do the toppings. And the first thing I want to do is put a little bit more olive oil. But, you want to generously brush it with olive oil. Especially on the edges. Because we don't want them to get too crispy or dried out. Take some olive tapenade, and you'll probably need just about a quarter cup. And you want to spread that in the middle of the dough leaving just a little bit of an edge, maybe a half inch to a quarter inch. And then we're just going to sprinkle those thinly sliced onions over the top. Get the onions on, and then all we're going to do is slide this into the oven. Again, it's at 450. And I'm going to put it on the middle shelf. And we're going to let it bake until it bubbles up and the edges are nice and brown, which usually takes about 12 to 15 minutes. It's nice and brown around the edges, so I'm just going to pull it out of the oven. And once you get it out of the oven you just want to brush the edges of the flat bread again with a little bit more olive oil. And then sprinkle some sea salt or kosher salt over the top. A couple pinches. And some red pepper flakes. And I'm just going to use the cutting board as our serving tray, and go ahead and take this out to Jon. Hey, are you ready for a snack? Definitely. But only if it has onions on it. It does. Alright. Can I just pick one? Yeah. Onions aren't normally like a star player in recipes. They're sort of a contributing member so I think this is a nice recipe because the onions are actually the main ingredient. And they're not caramelized. This recipe is just so easy and fast. They're so good when they're so fresh, too. You can tell, they're a little bit sweeter. Yeah, definitely when they're straight from the garden I think. I didn't even cry when I was cutting them, they were just so sweet, I didn't have any tears. I'm glad then. Yeah. Well, that was totally delicious. But, I think for once I improved your recipe. Thank you. I think your idea to add olives really made the recipe. Thanks so much for watching this episode of "Grow. Cook. Eat.", and for tuning in to our first season. It was so much fun to put it together. And we really appreciated your comments and suggestions. So, if there's something you want next year just let us know. Yeah, we're happy to grow anything you want. So, happy gardening, and we'll see you next spring.