Nothing like the threat of another mid-February blizzard (southwest New Brunswick & Downeast Maine till late tomorrow afternoon though nothing like last week’s 3 foot stinker) to get thoughts turning to spring. Damn groundhog. Spirits rise with Bette Middler’s lyrics “just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows, lies the seed, that with the sun’s love, in the spring, becomes the rose…” which in this case are the incredible rose-colored mini-purplette onion seeds we just planted. Jason, an organic grower in Maine got 8,000 pounds of onions from 3 ounces of seeds. We restrained ourselves and limited the job under an ounce even though Chef can’t seem to get enough of them in season. We use one of Johnny’s hand seed sowers and a sharp knife to aim and control the number of seeds in each cell. Seed start dates are divined by a combination of Johnny’s customized seed start program. You should try it: click here: Johnny’s Seed Start Dates; Vesey Seeds Planting Guide, an old fashioned matte finish booklet loaded with information; and MOFGA’s website (that’s Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association). They work to encourage respect for the environment & local communities while helping people increase local food production and making the world just a little better without pesticides, herbicides and genetically modified seeds. We support that. The annual September Common Ground Country Fair in Unity Maine is a vital learning & networking experience as well as a hoot. And no one stops anyone from sharing seeds. It’s encouraged. But we digress. Back to the purplettes. After planting each cell, the trays are watered, covered with a clear dome and warmed to the optimal soil temperature of 75 degrees.
We do this with a simple space heater under metal shelves & a modicum of luck. The tiny black onion seeds can be finicky. They may take from 6 to 16 days or more to emerge, but once they do, they’re on their way to their destiny…serving as accompaniment to other farm & garden items on our table this season. That, friends, is a story for another day…say 4 or 5 months from now. But we’re good. These rosy miracles just about the size of a Titleist golf ball are worth waiting for.