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Gardener's Grapevine 2016.06.15

BY JO ERBSKORN

Onions are one food that most everyone eats in some form or another. I love the flavor, but cannot stand the texture of them. Whenever I cook with them I pulverize them, thus avoiding the texture.

There are so many benefits to onions. They are rich in antioxidants and are believed to help prevent cancer, diabetes and even ward off the common cold. Did you know rubbing an onion on your skin will repel bugs? If by chance you forgot about rubbing onion on your skin and get bit, you can rub onion on the bite to sooth the pain.

Make an onion tea by boiling one cup of water with the peels of half an onion. After boiling, remove the peels and drink. Wouldn’t this be like onion soup without caramelizing the onions? I think I’ll stick to gargling with warm salt water, thank you.

Onions may be used in place of smelling salts when feeling faint or overworked to revive your vigor. Rubbing an onion on a burn will ease the pain and stop the burn. I read that if a splinter is very deep, taping a piece of onion peel over the splinter and leaving it for an hour will act like a drawing salve and pull the splinter to the surface.

Onions have some positive household uses also. Crush a sliced onion and combining it with water; using a soft cloth, dip it in the solution and rub it on metal surfaces to clean them. To clean your grill, cut an onion in half, stick a fork in it, and with the grill on, scrub the grill grates back and forth with the onion.

Onions make a great clothing dye.

Place half an onion on top of burned rice and cover. It will absorb the burnt taste and make the rice palatable again. Placing half of a red onion in an airtight container with avocados will prevent them from turning brown.

Onions are simple to grow. They may be planted from seeds or sets. Most people use sets, as onion sets are easy to plant and very tolerant of frost. Onions may be planted as soon as the ground is able to be worked in the spring regardless if further frosts are expected. Plant sets one inch deep and four to five inches apart. Fertilize the sets every few weeks with nitrogen. Once you see the top of the onion bulb peeking out of the ground, do not cover the bulb up with soil, but leave it exposed until harvest.

Fertilizing your sets every few weeks with nitrogen will help you obtain large bulbs. Mulching around your onions—being careful not to get mulch on the plants—will aid in holding the moisture in. About an inch of water a week is sufficient for onions.

Onions love to be planted with strawberries as they are companions and they help each other out. We have a small berry patch with onions growing here and there. It is about two years old and knocks us out with the amount of onions and berries we harvest.

If you are going to store onions for winter, allow them to dry a little before putting them in a cool, mostly dark place like a root cellar. Onions are one of the easiest things to grow and so very versatile.

I forgot one tip. If your hands smell like onion and you can't get the smell off, simply wash hands well, then rub your hands on a stainless steel sink or faucet and the smell will disappear. It's a trick I learned from an older farmer’s wife.