From My Allotment Diary (Tues. Sep. 10th, 2013)

September 10, 2013 by BigGee   Comments (2)

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It was a topsy turvy kind of week last week. Two hospital appointments 60 miles apart on different days, a Dr's. appointment that included a blood test appointment with a nurse, an eye test at the opticians, (all routine - no new pests diseases or lurgies!). Then on Thursday Josie's brother Bryan & his wife Sue (+ their dog Misty) came to stay for the weekend. We already have one 'lodger' who's been here a few weeks - Wilson - our No. 3 son's Yorkie (a REAL character who seems to have decided to be a permanent fixture in a new home). He came as a package with our grandson Cai a few weeks back, whilst Alex & Becca went to Turkey for a fortnight's break. Cai, at the end of his holiday with us, went down to his other grandparents, because he had to go back to school, (they live right by his school, whilst we live about forty miles away). As the grown up holidaymakers didn't come back until a couple of days after school started, and the other grandparents have a cat, Wilson became a castaway in sunny Aberaeron on the far flung shores of Cardigan Bay!

imagePersonally I wouldn't mind keeping him permanently, (although I doubt if my other half will go along with that) - he's a super little dog, and he's really no trouble. He's become a regular companion for me on the lottie & enjoys nothing better than whiling away the hours with me down there - we've really bonded big style. However I fear we'll be separated soon! Anyway I digress . . . back to my lottie diary.

I love this time of year - despite the foreboding onset of colder weather & the inevitable long winter that's heralding it's approach. However in a year like we've had, when there's still sunshine & dry periods in September, my favourite job on the lottie is lifting the onions & shallots, drying them and then roping them. It's extremely satisfying and relaxing in a contented sort of way. The end result just looks so good & is a constant reminder of my season's efforts.

imageSo that's exactly what Wilson & I busied ourselves with yesterday. Roping the dried alliums!

In fact the method I use, which my grandfather patiently taught me when I was a boy would more accurately be called 'plaiting'. Plaiting onions (or shallots) requires three lengths of thick string (or thin rope - whichever way you look at it!). The dried onion stalks are then intertwined in the plait to produce a 'rope'. image

It takes time and patience, but the end result is a lovely sight and a huge convenience for storing the crops over winter.

Whilst storing onions in net onion sacks is  very quick and requires less effort, I find that 'roping' onions is a far superior way of doing things. The onions get air, they don't press against each other and if any do turn bad you can remove any 'rogues'  from your rope before it affects any others. Plus of course you can see every single onion when you inspect your ropes.

imageThis little effort will stay in the polytunnel for a few weeks to finish 'ripening' in the sun and out of the wet. Then they'll get the heave-ho home, where I'll hang them from the rafters in the garage, which is the ideal storage space as it's cool & dark. We finished the last of the 2012 crop in early April this year - after this year's plants were in the ground & already growing. That's a real testimony to the old fashioned methods used in days gone by to store your onion crops.

Mind you, I've got very sore little finger-tips today from all that plaiting yesterday. Ah well NO PAIN NO GAIN eh?



:)Wow those onions look good mate I do mine differently as I was not taught PROPER like you ha ha. I do mine on a single thick string, tie the bottom one on, then with about 3inches of top of an onion put an inch verticly on string with onion at top, then wind round and round going down the string to 1st onion so it holds itself onto string (Will put photo on when I do them). In case you cannot follow what I mean.

I like your little companion he looks very friendly a bit of company for you when on own at plot.

dave 1622 days ago

I have a good idea how you do it Dave. Breton onion sellers who used to come round on bikes do them in a similar way I think, only they use rushes & raffia.

Here's a couple of nostalgic thotos for you:




Out of interest, years ago when they used to call on us annually on our remote hillside homestead, my mother would speak to the "Sioni Winwns" (as we called them) in Welsh & Sioni would speak to her in Breton, which is a sister P Celtic language to Welsh (along with the old Cornish language). They could make each other understood perfectly well due to the similarities of their mother tongues. Sioni spoke no English & my mother's English was very pidgin anyway - like many others in the remoter parts of Wales in those days.

Happy times!

BigGee 1622 days ago



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