As we enter March my hands begin to itch… they want to get a hold of some seeds and get them into the ground… a new season begins. The earliest seeds needing my attention are onions and they are followed by peppers. Any new perennial flowers I may be trying out are also seeded in March. My main crop of basilico will not be seeded until April but I dis seed a few plants in February to replace last year’s plants which were beginning to look a little worn out. This week I will take those new seedlings and transplant them into individual pots. The bottom heat mats gave these seedlings a good start.
I will start to fertilize my geraniums, fuschia and potato vine cuttings this month but will try keeping them on the cool side to prevent lengthy growth. My salad boxes continue to do well. I will plant a few extra romaine lettuce plants so that they will be ready to transplant outside in early April. Later in March I will sow some spinach, choi and kale in the outside beds that benefit from heat reflection from the house. I like to keep these beds covered with a row crop cover that also traps in some extra heat.
Raking up and shredding leaves that have finally fallen from my magnolia and oak trees is now being undertaken. The finely shredded leaves will be used as a mulch on the more tender plants in the garden. I am actually enjoying the look and smell of shredded leaves amid the shrubs, vegetable and flowers.
Plant of the month: The onion
Onions are among the world’s oldest cultivated plants. They were probably known in India, China, and the Middle East before recorded history. Ancient Egyptians regarded the spherical bulb as a symbol of the universe, and the concentric spheres of the cosmos were also likened to an onion. Its name is probably derived from the Latin unus, meaning “one.” The Romans introduced the onion to Britain and, in the New World, Native Americans added a highly pungent wild onion (Allium canadense) to their stews. Curative powers have been attributed to onions throughout the centuries; they have been used in folk medicine for such varied ailments as colds, earaches, laryngitis, animal bites, burns, and warts.
There are many types and forms of onions: white, yellow, red, Spanish, shallot, pearl, spring, winter, globe, flat, pungent and sweet. They are staples of the Mediterranean diet. Scientifically known as allium cepa, onions are a bulb full of mineral salts and vitamins that, raw or cooked, produce unmistakable fragrances and flavours. There are a host of native Italian varieties that are essential ingredients in the most well-known dishes.
Every area of Italy has its own cultivar of onion boasting unique characteristics. The Acquaviva red onion (Puglia), The Alife onion (Caserta), The Banari onion (Sardinia), The flat red onion of Bassano (Bassano del Grappa), The Boretto onion (Rover Po), The Breme red onion (Pavia), The Cannara onion (Umbria), The Cavasso and Val Cosa onion (Friuli), The Chioggia white onion (Chioggia), The Cureggio and Fontaneto blond onion (Novara Plain), The Ligurian Egyptian onion (Liguria), The copper onion of Milan (Milan), The Montoro onion (Salerno and Avellino), The Sermide onion (Po River), The Suasa onion (Marche), The Tropea red onion (Vibo Valentina), The Vatolla onion (Perdifumo) and The Vernina onion of Florence are just some of the unique italian onions.
Given the Italian affinity for onions, it is no wonder early Kelowna growers like Giovanni Casorso and my great grandfather, Luigi Rampone, took to growing acres of onions. They were known as the Onion Kings of the Okanagan Mission.
Onion plant, The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica
Feb 6, 2023: https://www.britannica.com/plant/Italian-onion
The Italian onions so delicious you can eat them raw
Silvia Marchetti, CNN October 31, 2022
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Life-long Gardener Don Rampone shares his tips and advice for gardening