Thursday, May 7, 2009

Alliums and Aliens

We pulled the first onion of the season up by its dreadlocks this afternoon, diced it up and threw it in a hot pan. The variety is Granex, a short season sweet onion. Cutting this beauty up was an unusually tearless affair. After a good long sizzle, the onions were sweet, sweet, sweet. Our young girls even liked them.

Just behind the onions, our red potatoes are coming along nicely.  They need another few rounds of growing and mounding, but before long we'll be swimming in new potatoes.

These won't be our first potatoes of the year, however. Some months ago, my wife tossed some sprouted potatoes into the compost pile. A few apparently bounced free, buried themselves in just enough compost to take root, and proceeded to make babies. Once the greenery died off, we dug up the proceeds. We found about three dozen little volunteers. Some had turned green from too much sunlight (green potatoes will make you ill if eaten), but most were white and delicious.

The potatoes weren't all we found, however. My wife called me out to the yard, announcing that she'd unearthed an alien from outer space in the compost pile. After some homework and an consultutation with a friend at the local natural history museum, we're pretty sure this ugly beastie is a Jerusalem Cricket. Whatever.  I just call it creepy.

Some days ago I mentioned the Mourning Dove who'd built a nest and laid an egg in our yard. Mother Dove is long gone, and I'm sure the egg isn't viable, but I can't bring myself to take it from the nest.

Finally, a picture of one of the Black Phoebe chicks who have been learning to hunt insects in our yard. Sorry about the photo. I took it using the maximum digital zoom our camera could produce. I tried to get close enough to take a less enhanced (and, therefore, clearer) photo, but the Phoebe's are wisely wary of us lumbering humans.


  1. Those onions are quite impressive. We have never attempted onions or garlic but we are supposed to be in the best territory on earth to do so... Maybe this winter we will try. And those phoebes are so frisky that they are a real challenge to capture on film. How fun is it to watch them flutter around! Now I cant believe those crickets are that bad... come on now!!! ;)

  2. Well, we started these onions from sets, so we took a shortcut, but they were really easy. We'd tried sowing seeds a little earlier in the season, but none of them took for some reason. I suspect the soil was too cool. Those onion seeds, and several other vegetable seeds, didn't sprout at all. Since them, we've added a warming tray to our gardening arsenal and have started propagating seeds indoors, on the tray, under a little fluorescent lamp. Works like a charm.

    I don't know about those crickets, Julia. They're the second largest insect in the United States (don't know what the largest is), and they're nothing like as graceful as an ordinary cricket. They sort of wallow through the dirt, then clumsily bury themselves in the soil again if they're unearthed. I think it was just the shock of seeing something so huge, so strange, and so new (to us). Think I'll stick to my first impression: they're creepy :-)

  3. I found this nifty site.

  4. Hi Karen,

    That looks pretty interesting! It's a pretty deep'll take some time to properly explore it, but thanks for posting it.