August, 3rd Week - Storing Onions And Sowing Green Manure
Dirty Nails writes from personal experience, having supplied his family of four over the years with enough fresh produce to eat their fill. His book combines his love of gardening with the natural pleasures of being outdoors and 'in amongst it'. The author seeks to de-mystify the art of kitchen and allotment gardening, making the thrills, spills, triumphs and tribulations accessible to all-comers, whatever their level of gardening experience.
STORING ONIONS AND SOWING GREEN MANURE
Dirty Nails is relieved that he made time to harvest his onions before the fine weather broke around the middle of this month. Onions are ripe for harvesting when the shiny bulbs with browned-off tops lift easily from the ground, and the roots are withered and dry. He sorts his onions out before tying them in bunches and hanging them in a sheltered and airy place to dry completely. A few always come up soft and mushy and these go straight onto the compost heap. Others may be soft and brownish under the papery skin around the neck and are liable to suffer neck rot in store. These are put aside for consumption first, as are any that have bolted and have a thick, stiff central stem.
The vast majority are usually fine however, and will be ready to store for the winter in a frost-free shed, suspended from the beams. If he has more onions than can be comfortably hung, Dirty Nails will keep them one-deep in fruit trays. Stored this way after a good season, onions should last well into early next summer.
With a large area of the veg garden now empty, a green manure crop can be sown. This is not grown for eating, but to replenish or improve the soil. Green manures are usually hoed off and/or dug into the plot before they flower. Dirty Nails likes to scatter seeds of Phacelia onto open ground at this time of year. It is a quick growing plant that will suppress weeds and can be dug in during the autumn or left to over-winter. He likes Phacelia especially because inevitably some will be allowed to bloom. The delicate blue flowers start off like a tufted bud and then unfurl into a long tongue of tiny flowers which beneficial insects adore.