Mico’s Garden Update: Garlic, Scallions, and Onions, Oh My!

In Connecticut, it snowed in April this year. Despite the lingering colder-than-normal weather, spring has finally arrived. I visited Mico recently to see how his garden was developing.

Early in the season, garlic, scallions, and onions take center stage outdoors. Most exciting is how easy this trio is to plant and grow. I think even I could do it!

Before we continue, I should admit that I am not a gardener. It’s not that I never tried, but that I never committed to the task, at least not yet. When my husband and I bought our home in Connecticut, it came with two raised beds in the back. Perfect, I thought. I’ll finally become my father’s daughter (in the gardening sense). “This year, I will plant!” I thought optimistically.

I had the romantic vision of being in touch with the earth and using gardening as a form of meditation. Unfortunately, my romantic vision did not translate into actionable vegetable growing.

Mico plants my garden – Fairfield County, CT, spring 2011

In May of that year, realizing I had not bought seeds or formed any plan for creating a garden, I called Mico. He dutifully came over and planted tomatoes and other goodies he had grown from seeds over the winter.

In the months that followed, I watered the plants and watched them grow. Later, I ate the yummy tomatoes and other crops that grew and ripened like magic.

For now, I still leave the serious gardening to Mico and my husband Adam, although I am more involved this year as a chronicler of their experiences . . . which brings me back to garlic, onions, and scallions.

While most of his “babies” are still indoors, Mico starts planting heartier crops outside. “I always plant onions and garlic around March 20,” he tells me.  I know this is very specific information and that I’m late in giving it to you . If you missed that date, don’t worry, it is not too late to plant these edibles.

Garlic, late afternoon sun – Mico’s Garden, Bergen County, NJ, 2018

Garlic is easy to plant and grow. Just take a garlic clove and bury it an inch under the ground! Wow, I think even I can manage this. While many home gardeners plant garlic in the fall, including Adam, Mico starts in March and harvests in July. So, it’s not too late. If you plant now, a month or two later than Mico planted his, you should have garlic by late summer. We’ll talk about “braiding” your dried garlic harvest in a future post.

Adam also starts planting outside around this time of year. A couple of weekends ago, he added compost to the soil in the raised beds and other vegetable gardening areas. He also planted scallions.

Scallion tips in water

Planting scallions is simple, he tells me. In fact, the same scallion can be replanted multiple times. He informs me that over several months last year, we ate the same scallion, replanted and regrown, at least 5 times. Wow, gardening is like magic!

To start your scallions, simply cut the tips off a few and place them in water. The water should cover the stringy bottoms, just to the top of the white flesh of the scallion. Check the water every day, and add more as needed.

Within a week or two, the scallions will sprout. Now you can plant them outside. Per Adam, plant them about an inch underground. In about 6-8 weeks, green tops will poke out of the earth and grow tall enough to pick. After harvesting, keep a few tips and repeat the process.

Red onion sprouting – Mico’s garden, Bergen County, NJ, 2018

Onions seem to be the hardest of the three to grow, although still relatively easy.  Unlike garlic and scallions, you cannot start the process of planting onions by grabbing them from the pantry. Both Adam and Mico buy starter onion bags at a garden store. They have also tried growing onions from seed, but with limited success. The onion bags contain a bunch of tiny onions.  Plant each about an inch underground. Then wait until late summer/early fall for harvest time.

Inspired by Mico and Adam, I told my husband that I needed to “get my hands dirty” this year and help with the planting. Of course, this was merely figurative. I was planning to wear gloves.

On a chilly day in late March, Adam went outside to do some yard cleanup work in preparation for early spring planting. I thought about joining him. I really did. Then I got distracted by an idea I had about kimchi [stay tuned for a blog post on kimchi soon], so I never made it out there.

Oh well. Maybe I will just stick to writing for now!

Mico’s tomato plants make their al fresco debut

Bonus tip about tomatoes for those that read this far!:  While I know this post is about garlic, scallions, and onions, I thought I would quickly update you on tomatoes.  Mico has already planted his outside.  He cautions however that you must cover them overnight for now  because the night chill is still too cold for these growing babies.  If your tomatoes are still inside, Mico suggests bringing them outside into the sun for an hour, then two hours, then several hours over a period of days before planting in the ground.  If you go straight from indoors to outdoors, the leaves may burn when finally exposed to sunlight.  Who knew that young tomato plant leaves are so sensitive to the sun?!  Mico knew.  He always knows. . .Check out Mico’s other tips on tomato germination.

What are you planting? Drop us a note or comment below and let us know!

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