July 2010
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A couple quick garden tipsA couple quick garden tips

Spring harvested scallions,from bulblets formed by perennial multiplying onions.

Scallions or green onions are among the most versatile vegetables one can grow in the garden. And one of the easiest too. We like them grilled whole,cut up and stir fried or minced for garnish,to name just a few uses.

A wide row of onion sets,trenched for scallions.

So I was thrilled to find that The Depot in Essex Junction still had a bin full of onion sets. And on sale too. Usually garden centers sell out or possibly throw out the leftover onion sets after the spring planting season ends,so I’m always thrilled to find them for sale anywhere at this time of year,since planting them now will yeild months of good eating in the fall.

I planted them this week,in trenches about 1-2 inches deep and close together,single file or in wide rows. Covered them over,watered,and that’s it. Anyone can do it! Don’t even need particularly good soils since much of the energy for the plant is already stored in the bulb.

If sets aren’t available,you can can start scallion seeds and I did a month ago and I’ve also used the bulblets that form at the top of perennial multiplying onions that make excellent sets for free.  But their productions is fickle and this summer’s bublets are too tiny to produce strong scallions. 

Soaking lettuce stems in water to reduce bitterness.

On the lettuce front,we’re coming to the end of the spring sown plants and they are starting to bolt,with bitterness increasing daily. I’ve found I can salvage them for salads by soaking the stems in water immediately after cutting the heads and periodically re-cutting the stems. This seems to encourage the bitter,milky juice in the stem to drain out.  The whole procedure of draining the stems takes about 4-5 cuts and 15 minutes or so,maybe a little longer if the lettuce is really bitter. I do this while washing them in the sink or in a big bowl. The cut portions of the stems can be a nice crunchy treat,peeled if needed,and by tasting the stems you can gauge how bitter the leaves will be.

If the lettuce has already created flowers and the leaves have lost their glossiness, then it’s usually too far gone and best added to the compost  bin,and the bed amended with finished compost and replanted for fall greens.

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