[gardeners] Wednesday

Margaret Lauterbach (gardeners@globalgarden.com)
Thu, 10 Sep 1998 07:50:50 -0600

A gardening friend and I took our annual trip westward yesterday to buy a
winter's supply of onions.  Sweet spanish onions are a major crop for
eastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho, and they are of outstanding quality.
 The good news is bad news for farmers: the price is lower than usual.  We
bought 50 lbs. of jumbo onions for $6, and 50 lbs. of mediums for $4.  In
previous years the prices of each were $1 more than those prices.  If it
doesn't stop raining here soon, the prices will jump.  Onions have been
pulled and are lying in the muddy fields.  If they rot, prices will rise
quickly. The first packing house we went to, the one we usually buy onions
from, didn't have any onions, even unsorted ones in  a bin.  They won't
resume operations until the fields dry out.  But the owner of that plant
told us how to get to another plant that he said was still rolling.  As we
usually do, we stopped in Notus to visit the general store there.  It
caters to Mexican farm workers and carries everything from boots to blades,
and every Spanish-named herb known to humans.  The candy case held the
white coconut candies with bright pink ends, and a few other candies, but
they didn't have my favorite, Dulce de Leche.  While my friend discussed
the merits of vermicides (!) with the sales clerk, I continued browsing,
and found packaged dulce de leche.  Okay, so it's colored differently.
Just won't be the same in a sanitary wrapper as it was being pawed over by
everyone who opened the candy door.  

It had been raining that morning, and an awesome bank of tattered clouds
stretched south to north, from horizon to horizon.  By the time we got our
onions in the back of the little pickup it was almost noon, so we decided
to go to Oregon for lunch.  Nyssa, Ore., was just ten miles distant.
Crossed into Pacific time zone, I think, and into a state without sales
tax.  Not a bad lunch, but you don't see someone grilling chicken breasts
on a gas barbecue on  Main street  every day.  Or see a restaurant that's
also a quilt shop and gift store.  Neither of us had been out that highway,
so it was interesting.  My friend didn't have her reading glasses with her,
so she was busy misreading a road map.  I said "I think we're traveling
north.  I don't want to go north."  I finally pulled off the road and
looked at the map, then turned around and traveled south.  

The only thing we didn't do this time is visit a remote greenhouse from
which we've purchased a lot of plants at reasonable prices.  My friend is
just going out of the nursery business, and I have a ton of plants that
have never been put in the ground.  We didn't need to go there, GA or not.
Anyway, I've got some darned good-looking winter onions.  My only concern
is that the skins are thin, and I'm expecting a hard La Nina winter.  Don't
onion skins toughen and thicken just before a hard winter?  Margaret, in