Friday, June 17, 2011

Producing Onion Seed

I'm feeling nervous. Maybe you are too. This whole thing with Greece's economy and our own government's spend, spend, spend mentality. It can't go on without dire concequences for everyone. Economies around the world are so interconnected. Out of curiosity, I looked up this morning what the Great Depression's unemployment rate was in the USA, - 24.9 at its height. Greece's is presently at 16%. I believe in order to right our country and our world, it will have to undergo a painful period of time where hearts are changed and budgets readjusted to where we spend what we earn. But you are probably wondering what all that has to do with onion seeds because you know it does somehow, or at least I think it does or I wouldn't have mentioned it? 

It is in part why I'm working on becoming more self-sufficient. This unrest about the economy and the moral decay of our nation has kicked it into a higher gear. One of the skills I see I need is to learn to produce part of my own garden seeds.  In my ignorance I thought you could just grow a pumpkin, dig the seeds out, dry them, and plant them again. You can but what you'll get I've since learned is a mystery for there is inbreeding, outbreeding, wind pollination, insect pollination, and a raft of other things you need to know in order to make sure you will have a pumpkin seed produce another pumpkin just like it's parent.   
And since I'm partial to my food, that is one area I'm working on the hardest. I've several seed saving projects planned for this summer. Onions are one them.

This is one cluster of onions that are in the process of producing seed. Onions grow the first year and then the second year they produce seed. That complicates things because you are suppose to save your loveliest onion and plant it again the next spring. Problem is I've no where to suitable to save it. Oh how I wish I had a cellar. So when I found a few volunteers underneath the tall grass invading my garden. I enlisted them into my learning adventure. Now these are small onions that didn't get enough moisture with my poor care last year. The transplanting of three very small children into your life will do that. So they didn't grow very big. The few onions that did grow to maturity and weren't harvested but lost into the tall grass rotted over the winter. I found a couple small beets trying to sprout in the tall grass also. This has me wondering if I can purposely exploit this trait? It does leave the draw back of not knowing exactly what the plant would look like at maturity. You are suppose to pick you very best for the good reason that you want all the offspring to be like the parents. What you should do and what I'm going to do nare shall meet since I've no cellar or cool place that won't freeze. No, my garage is not an option. When it gets to eighteen below zero F. it freezes in there too.      

As you can see in this photo this is the stage right before the unveiling of the flowers.

But one does what one has to in their circumstance, so here I go. I transplanted the onion volunteers to the new onion patch. Yes patch, for I'm not growing onions in rows this year. Remember the lesson on plots? You can grow over double the amount using plots over the row system in the same amount of space. With limited space, I need maximum number of plants. Most of my garden this year is taking that approach. I'm hoping to work out a good watering system for next year that conserves water, but for now, I'm just patching my plants and figuring that out later. I'm lucky, it has been a good year to do so because we've had lots of rain.

Onions are inbreeding plants, which is the breeding of two genetically similar parents. This makes the project easier because it isn't like the beet volunteers which will breed with every cousin in a five mile radius. That will be interesting keeping the little sluts contained. I wouldn't be doing that project just yet but there were volunteers. What could I say when they raised their little reds heads up and hollered, "Pick me, pick me. I want to grow and produce seeds." In Wyoming, volunteers are not taken lightly.

So it is my understanding, according to the book, that these onion flowers will open over the next month being pollinated by bees and the like.
 Then it will dry up and the seeds will fall. That's where I have to catch it first. I have four plants all blooming. I wonder if it will take all summer to gain seeds? Take into consideration we have a very short one here at 5000 feet way up north and you can see all summer isn't a terribly long period of time.  
Just because I have such a beautiful picture. I'm going to share with you the wild onions on the prairie. Wonder if they are going to breed with my domestic onions? Hmmm... the book said my onion wouldn't breed with chives but wild onions it forgot to inform me about. Alas, the hazards of being ignorant.

No comments:

Post a Comment