Mavis Garden Blog – How to Harvest and Store Onions

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I’ve received a bunch of questions recently from people wanting to know when they should harvest their onions,  so I thought I would go ahead and repost this handy dandy tutorial on how to harvest and store onions for those of you who have never done it before, or just need a quick refresher.

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This year I grew 3 different types of onions.  Walla Walla Sweets Yellow Onions, and Red Onions.

The Walla Wallas are for eating fresh, the yellows for winter storage, and the red onions for homemade salsa, sandwiches and for roasting on the grill.

Because I planted so many onions, at different times, not all of the onions are ready to harvest right now.  But a few of them are.

Here are a few pictures of the drying process of my first batch of onions.

Onions are ready to be harvested when the necks are nice and dry.  At this point you’ll want to pull up the onions, and lay them flat on the soil for a day or two so they have a chance to  dry out in the sun a bit.

Then, you’ll want to move your onions to a warm, ventilated area {out of the sun} for a few weeks so they can finish curing.

You’ll know the onions are done drying when they look like the regular onions you see in the grocery store.  The outer skins will be paper like and brittle, the roots will be dry, and the tops will be completely dried out.

If you would like to show off your onions, then you’ll definitely want to try braiding them.  Hanging the onions in the kitchen is cool.  The Pilgrims did it, and so can you.

Braiding onions is pretty basic, almost like french braiding hair, but instead of pulling hair {onions} from beneath, you are adding them on top and working them into the onions from there.

The trick to braiding the onions is to make sure the onion stalks are not completely dried out.  If they are to dry, the papery stalks will crumble in your hands.  You need them to be moist enough so they will be flexible to braid with out falling apart.

When I braided the bunch of onions you see above, they had been drying for about 7 days on the back porch, which I felt was the perfect amount of time.  As the onions continue to dry, they will hold together just fine because I braided them pretty tight.

As far as long term storage goes, brush off any excess dirt, and place onions in mesh bags, or storage crates in a cool, dark place.  The ideal temp for storing onions is around 40 degrees.

Now, if I could just get the smell of onions off my hands…

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.



A Small Garden from Virginia Packs a Lot of Vegetables into a 6×8 Foot Raised Bed

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raised garden boxes

A big THANK YOU to everyone who has sent in their photographs and stories. I hope by sharing other peoples pictures and stories here on One Hundred Dollars a Month we can all have a rock star garden this summer. Keep them coming!

growing squash in a raised garden bed

Check out these photos Susanne from Virginia recently sent in of her 6×8, 24″ high raised bed garden. This is her second year with it and it just goes to show you do not need a huge amount of space to grow some veggies.

Here’s what Susanne said about her garden:

Kale, romaine, spinach and radishes were first and are about gone now.

Basil, and chives… Both onion and garlic in opposite corners! All have been ready for a couple months at least. Chives were perennial and survived last years crazy Virginia winter. Many things didn’t make it through that normally do.. My fig tree and large gardenia are still in recovery.

growing tomatoes in raised beds

Currently, in addition to herbs, we have HUGE Beefsteak tomatoes, tons of cherry tomatoes, summer squash and cucumbers. My 4 foot PLUS marigolds are blooming.., FINALLY! There are only 3 tomato plants in this garden. Two Beefsteak and 1 cherry! I have topped all over and over. They just get bigger… AMAZING. I will need a ladder to get all the cherry tomatoes… Literally.

squash growing in a garden box

My greatest challenge is to maintain good airflow and keeping it open and inviting to bees. I started everything from seed except the tomato plants and brussels sprouts. The sprouts are a failure. I have since learned they should be a fall planting… I guess the “grower” missed that point too!

All are growing in topsoil from a natural pond/runoff in the back corner of our property. This great natural dirt is amended with chicken poop compost from my chickens. The chickens live in our backyard. This garden bed is in our front yard!

raised garden

The table and bucket on the side are to keep my dogs from picking squash! They are starting to grow outside the box so we will see if they can restrain themselves!

~ Susanne

Send Pictures of Your Garden For a Chance to Win a $20 Amazon Gift Card

A big THANK YOU to everyone who has sent in their photographs and stories. I hope by sharing other peoples pictures and stories here on One Hundred Dollars a Month we can all have a rock star garden this summer. Keep them coming!

~Mavis

If you would like to have your garden, chicken coop or something you’ve made featured on One Hundred Dollars a Month, here’s what I’m looking for:

  • Your Garden Pictures and Tips – I’d especially like to see your garden set ups, growing areas, and know if you are starting seeds indoors this year. If so,  show me some picture of how you are going about it.
  • Your Chicken and Chicken Related Stories – Coops, Chicks, Hen’s, Roosters, Eggs, you name it. If it clucks, send us some pictures to share with the world.
  • Cool Arts & Crafts - Made from your very own hands with detailed {and well photographed} pictures and instructions.
  • Your pictures and stories about your pets. The more pictures and details the better.
  • Garage Sale, Thrift Store and Dumpster Diving pictures and the stories behind the treasures you found including how much you paid for them.

If I feature your pictures and the stories behind them on One Hundred Dollars a Month, I will send you a $20.00 gift card to the greatest store in the world: Amazon.com.

Go  HERE for the official rules.

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Help! What’s Wrong With my Onions?

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onion harvest

I posted a picture of my onion harvest on my instagram page the other day and someone made this comment:

This is the 1st year I’ve put out a garden, my onions have fallen over and the base has gone mushy. I harvested them, only three were bad, but I was wondering why it happened?? Any ideas?

Honestly, there are a lot of possibilities that would make them mushy.  First up, a bacterial disease.

Onions become susceptible to bacterial infections once the bulbs start to form, or if they get wounds in the leaves.  There are a couple of bacterial diseasaes that are possible, and they are pretty hard to tell apart.  Unfortunately, the bacteria can reside in the soil, in the irrigation water, etc., so preventing it can be tricky.  Your best bet is to use flood irrigation once the bulbs form.  It keeps bacteria from the dirt from splashing up onto the leaves, as it might when using sprinklers.  Onions can also be susceptible after harvest, so curing them correctly is super important.

Next, you may have had onion maggots.  They like to get inside the stems and destroy your onions from the inside out.  I don’t think this sounds like the case with  you, or you would have seen evidence when you dug them up, but still, they would cause a mushy-ness.

Finally, it’s possible for your onions to get fungal infections and become mushy.  Usually, you will see evidence of a fungus, like white, gray or black powdery looking stuff on the onion.  Fungal problems typically come from cool weather or over-watering.  Again, keeping the water off of the leaves by using flood irrigation really helps.

If I were a betting lady, I’d say  you had a bacteria {just because you didn’t really mention evidence of anything else}.  I’d plant your onions in a new spot next year {crop rotation}, and try the flood irrigation.

Hope that helps!

~Mavis

 

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Mavis Butterfield | Backyard Garden Pictures 7/22/14

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fallen tree on garden

Over the weekend a tree fell smack dab in the middle of our pumpkin patch killing two plants. Luckily we were all inside when it happened. Living in a wooded area has it’s perks, but falling trees, isn’t one of them. growing green beans on a trellis

The rest of the garden is doing really well though. The second round of green beans should be ready in a few more weeks and I just planted our third and final round last night. onion braids

Onions. We harvested all of them. Our winter leeks are still growing like mad and with a little luck the chives we have planted alongside the greenhouse should be okay thru the middle of October or so. For some reason plants seem to hang on a little longer in that spot. Not sure if it’s because of the shade or what, but I’m not complaining.
cabbage plant

We are harvesting about a head of cabbage a week. Grocery shipping in your backyard is cool!zucchini plant

Zucchinis. Are yours growing like crazy this year too?harvesting beets

And last but not least beets. We harvested a tray full of beets last night and planted new seeds in the same spot for a late fall harvest. Call me crazy, but I think a 4′x8′ garden box should be just enough to last thru the winter. What do you think?

How is YOUR garden doing these days? What’s your favorite thing growing in your garden right now?

Mavis Wants to know.

This years garden is being sponsored by the folks at BotanicInterests Seed Company. You can check out their website HERE, order their new 2014 Garden Seed Catalog HERE.

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

What Causes Blossom Drop in Tomatoes?

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What Causes Blossom Drop in Tomatoes

I recently received an email from One Hundred Dollars a Month reader, Kathy in Ohio.  She wrote,

Hi Mavis! Happy Wednesday to you!  Have you ever discussed blossom drop in tomatoes? It’s when the blossoms bloom then drop off tomato plants, with no fruit setting. Someone recently came to me asking about it, and luckily enough, after years of caring for acres of tomatoes when my step father was alive on the farm, I was able to help her.
I think your readers would like to know about this. After all, it has been hot and humid around most of the country lately and that can be a factor when dealing with blossom drop.

It can also affect other fruit bearing veggie plants like peppers, green beans, cucumbers, pumpkins and other squash, melons and eggplant
By the way, I’m in NE Ohio,  where it’s been near 90 or above, with super high humidity.

Have an excellent day!

Excellent suggestion, Kathy.  Thanks!

Blossom drop can be maddening.  The worst part of blossom drop is that several things can cause it.  It is an indication that the plant is under some level of stress, so you may have to trouble shoot a bit what could be causing it in your specific situation.  First off, blossom drop is when the flowers {that should eventually become tomatoes} wither up and fall off–which means no tomatoes.  Whah!

Typically, blossom drop occurs when temperatures spike very quickly or drop quickly.  Drastic changes in temperature really stress tomatoes out.  As Kathy mentioned, humidity can also do a number on potato plants.  If you live in a low humidity area, it’s an easy fix, you can try wetting the foliage a bit during the day to get a bit of humidity into the air around the plant.  If you live in a high humidity area, it’s pretty darn hard to control.

If the weather isn’t the problem, it may be a pollination issue.  If you don’t have bees buzzing around your garden, you may not have great pollination.  Without pollination, no tomatoes, plain and simple.

blossom drop in tomatoes

Lack of water or nitrogen in the soil can also stress out a tomato plant.  During the hottest months, it’s really best to give a deep water {like flood irrigation} once a week, rather than a daily surface sprinkle.  The water really needs to reach the roots, and if given the change, tomatoes like to lay some deep roots.  If you suspect your soil might not be very nutrient rich, try a quality organic nitrogen based fertilizer.  Follow the instructions on the fertilizer for application.

Inspect your plants regularly for insects or disease.  Again, an infestation or disease will stress out your plant, causing it drop flowers.

heirloom tomatoes

Finally, and this is probably the best case scenario, it can happen when you have a really heavy crop.

Yep, even too much of a good thing is not a good thing.  The good news is that after you harvest some of the tomatoes, it should resolve itself.  The plant only has so much nutrients to go around, so if there is an over-abundance of fruit, it will drop some of the flowers to concentrate on growing the rest of the fruit.

Once you know what is causing your blossom drop, you can easily address the issue {except for controlling the weather, I haven’t figured out how to do that yet :) }.

Thanks again for the suggestion, Kathy!  I can’t believe I haven’t thought to address the topic before.

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Growing Vegetables in a Greenhouse – Tomatoes and Cucumbers

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growing lettuce in gutters greenhouse

Do not attempt to grow lettuce in a greenhouse when the temperature outside is in the mid 80′s. It won’t work out too well. Not that I would know anything about that. ;)

seattle greenhouse garden

Yesterday was greenhouse clean up day. It’s been awhile since I did anything out there but water or harvest vegetables, so I thought I better hop to it and get something constructive done while the weather was nice. Oh, and no, you do not need to adjust the color on your computer monitor. I am really that pale. But, if you look closely at the next photo, you notice my forearms are much darker. So there is hope for my farmers tan. I think.

mavis garden blog greenhouse tomatoes

Snacking on cherry tomatoes, is one of my favorite pastimes. growing sungold tomatoes

A rainbow of happiness. Anyone else growing Sungolds this year?green heirloom tomatoes in a greenhouse

I have no idea what these ones are but I can tell you one thing, as soon as they ripen, I’m going to eat them! And I won’t even feel bad if I don’t share. growing cucumbers in a greenhosue

Gardening, it’s pretty rad.

Wouldn’t you say?

~Mavis

You can see more greenhouse photos from this year in my Growing Vegetables in a Greenhouse Series.

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

How Much Is Your Time Worth?

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mavis butterfield one hundred dollars a month

Even though I have five years of blogging under my belt, there is one type of comment I get from time to time that I still have no idea how to answer:

I really enjoy your site– you have a lot of great tips to share. One thing I’ve thought about though: how much is your time worth? Of course we all have finite life spans so everything we do is a tradeoff– a portion of our precious life in exchange for something. But on the less philosophical side, how many hours do you spend in gardening, canning, freezing, coupon clipping, etc. , as well as how much money spent on gas/electricity to run a larger freezer, heat canning stuff, etc?

If you subtract the extra money you spend on energy from what you save per month, then divide the result by how many hours you spend in money-saving activities how much per hour you are earning/saving?

Which is more beneficial in terms of dollars per hour– working extra hours at a job or working those hours at home and in your garden to save money? (Not that everything comes down to money— sometimes the satisfaction that comes with accomplishing or creating something is more of a reward than money).

~Beth

canning beets

When I get a comment like that, it is really one of the most difficult for me to answer. Because the answer is complex and personal and unique to just me. Let’s face it, I march to the beat of my own drum. Who else do you know crazy enough to grow 2,000lbs of food in their backyard and try to live on $100 a month and actually find a TON of joy in that. I know that sentiment is not shared by many.

It’s possible I have a few screws loose! So for that reason, I want to scream from the rooftop every time someone asks me a similar question {and it’s more often than you’d imagine}: it’s TOTALLY worth it to me.

My gut instinct is to say I’d spend twice as much time doing just what I do because I love it. I love this lifestyle and I love gardening and I love feeling the dirt between my fingers and knowing I’m doing right by my family.

I SERIOUSLY ENJOY IT. And you really can’t put a price tag on that.

Don’t get me wrong, I do get where people are coming from. I had a friend once who bought a fixer-upper house with her husband a few years back. They decided to do all the work themselves to save money on the renovations. They put so much sweat, tears and hours into that house that when they were done, both would tell you that is wasn’t worth it at all and if they had to do it again, they’d hire almost all of it out. The reason? They didn’t love what they were doing. At all. I do!

A great example of the opposite of that would be my friend Jennifer’s cousin Zoë. She cooks from scratch, cans her extra garden produce, makes oodles of handmade quilts for her home and her shop on Etsy, She’s amazing. And I bet if we were to add up the hours she spends doing those “chores,” it might seem like a waste of time on paper.

But it’s not to her. And it certainly isn’t to me. I know that might seem crazy to some, but if you’re doing something that gives you joy, it becomes less about how much it’s saving you. The fact that I do save a ton of money doing what I do is a big fat bonus. The icing on the cake really.

primitive hooked star rug

We all do all things because we like to do them, not because it’s necessarily cheaper, faster or easier. But because our time is worth something to us. The time, heart and energy I put into something is worth more than the money I can swap out of my bank account for something cheaper off the shelf at Walmart.

Pretty much these days about 75% of what I do is accomplishing or creating something that means more to me than money. Sometimes price tags just don’t matter!

Life is short.

Be happy.

DO WHAT YOU LOVE.

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Mavis Butterfield | Backyard Garden Pictures 7/13/14

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old watering cans red wheelbarrow

Did I tell you my 50 foot hose has gone missing?

Seriously, how does a hose disappear? I’m sure it will resurface at some point but with the weather in the 80′s and 90′s around here lately, watering the garden has turned into a major chore. I have to make at least 5 trips with the wheelbarrow loaded up with watering cans just to water my garden beds properly.

Sure I’m getting a great workout… but c’mon. What a pain!

onions and beans

I feel like it’s the year of the slacker. And let me tell you Bob, I’m embracing it. My garden might be small this year, but I keep telling myself  that it’s okay. Next year I’ll have more time {and energy} to spend on it. Right? I’m trying not to beat myself up about it too much but for someone with major OCD, it’s hard. ;)

cascadia raspberriesThe raspberries.

Oh my. There are tons of them this year. Tons I tell you. Tons. And the strange this is, the HH keeps asking me about them. “Did you pick the raspberries today? What are you going to do with the raspberries? Did you put raspberries in my lunch? Maybe you should freeze the extra raspberries.”

It doesn’t freaking stop.

When did he become a gentleman farmer? Is this what I have to look forward to in my old age? Am I going to have to give him a little plot of his own to take care of? I take a year off from gardening and he suddenly becomes an expert.

head of cabbage

I even caught him harvesting a cabbage the other day.

magnum glass greenhouse

I just hope he doesn’t wander into the greenhouse anytime soon because it’s a real mess in there. Seriously. I’m going to stop typing right now and get out there and clean it up a bit before I get busted by the HH.

Peace Out Girl Scouts. Have a great Sunday.

~Mavis

This years garden is being sponsored by the folks at Botanical Interests Seed Company. You can check out their website HERE, order their new 2014 Garden Seed Catalog HERE.

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

DIY Rustic Hand Stamped Copper Garden Markers

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copper-garden-markers-with-patina-finish Occasionally I’ll start a DIY project with high hopes, but really unsure of how it will turn out. That was the case when I decided to turn these awesome copper pieces into cool looking, aged copper garden markers for my latest eHow article Rustic Hand Stamped Copper Garden Markers That Will Jazz Up Your Garden. Luckily, they turned out more amazing than I could have imagined!

This week, while browsing the garden section at my local garden center, I came across a package of copper plant markers and decided to pick up a pack and make something cool with them. I mean really, what gardener couldn’t use a few more garden markers, right?

Go HERE to read the full article…

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Monthly Garden Chores – July

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Monthly Garden Chores - July

Holy cannoli’s people… can you believe it’s July already? This year is flying by and the weather here in Western Washington has been perfect for gardening lately. Hot and muggy pretty much sums it up if you ask me. ;)

We are almost done harvesting strawberries for the season and are looking forward to the next best thing… RASPBERRIES. Wahooo! Gardening is rad, isn’t it?

cabbage seeds

Seeds I’m Starting Indoors this Month

  • Broccoli Raab {time to get ready for the fall garden!}
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Cauliflower

See the full list of seeds I’ll be planting this year

What I Plan to Transplant Outside this Month

Everything is already outside this month.  I plan on just watering and watching it all grow. :)

bucket of raspberries

What I plan to Harvest This Month

  • Strawberries
  • Lettuce
  • Peas
  • Cucumbers
  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Beans
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Kale
  • Mint
  • Onions
  • Baby Red Potatoes
  • Raspberries
  • Sun Gold Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

sun gold tomatoes

Trees and Shrubs

Trees and shrubs should be pretty low maintenance this month, other than needing a bit more water.  All trees and shrubs benefit from deeper, less frequent waterings, rather than a daily light sprinkle.  Watch for pests, fungus, and diseases this month and stop them before they take hold.  Mulching is important this month.  It will help your plants deal with the stress of the heat.

slugs eating cabbage

Weed and Pest Control

Weeding is especially important this month, because weeds will compete in your garden beds for valuable nutrients.  Continue to keep an eye on pests, especially on the tomatoes.

lawn mowing tips

Lawn Care

Try raising the blade on your mower this month.  The longer cut grass will protect the roots of the grass from the heat.

These garden chores are based on my Zone 8a Seattle/Tacoma WA location. Find your garden zone HERE.

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

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