Thursday, December 31, 2009


The Rev. Dana Prom Smith, S.T.D., Ph.D. (12/31/09)

Stepping out of a warm shower stall on a cold winter's morn, stark naked, dripping wet, half-blinded by soap in my eyes, groping for a towel, meine Überfrau greeted me, saying, "You know, DP, your teeth are a bit dingy, like some old geezer's." I replied, "What's the matter with that? I am an old geezer, and, besides, I don't look at my teeth." The retort was swift and fast, "But I do, and you're not my kind of old geezer. Here's some whitening strips for your teeth. Dingy teeth age you. Besides, I want you to look nice. I love you."

Straightaway, whitening strips were thrust into my mitts, and I was told them to put them on my choppers. To put a blasphemous twist on Hebrews 10:31: "It is a fearful thing it is to fall into the hands of a loving woman!"

As I tried to affix gooey, slippery brightening strips to my teeth, I ruminated on the irony that women are always trying to improve on their husbands while men wish their wives would stay the same as when they first knew them. First, I thought that perhaps women were smarter than men, but then I concluded it's that damned managerial gene they get from their mothers. "If mamma ain't happy, ain't nobody gonna be happy."

"By the way, are you going to plant all those onions this year like you did last year? You know, you go overboard on tomatoes and onions, like twenty tomato plants and 405 onion sets. Really compulsive."

"Just think of my tomatoes and onions as brightening our taste buds, besides it was only 375 onions, and we ran out at that."

While my teeth were still brightening, stealthily I ordered my onions sets on the Internet to be delivered on March 15 for planting on March 19, the first day of spring when the days are long enough, 12-13 hours, to grow onions. Chastised, I ordered only 225 sets.

Around about January or February is the best time to order both onion sets and tomato seeds because the selection is greater. Wait until it's time to plant, and it's the dregs. There are lots of places to buy onion sets on the Internet, like Brown's Omaha Plant Farms in Texas,

Onions, like Caesar's Gaul, are divided into three parts, short day, intermediate day, and long day. Flagstaff is intermediate. Walla Walla onions are long day, coming from up north, and Vidalia's are short day, coming from down south. Three intermediate sweet onion hybrids are Superstar, Hybrid Candy, and Red Candy Apple. Onions are tolerant to the cold so they can be planted without protection when the temperatures are still freezing but the soil has thawed.

My Superstars from last year were so sweet that one of my dentist's assistants, Leona McGeary, ate one as if it were an apple without any serious side effects. We, Leona and I, barter onions for chicken manure, not dental work.

As with everything, success is in the preparation. Onions, being a bunch of tight-knit leaves, love nitrogen fertilizer which means blood meal and coffee and tea grounds as well as other nitrogen fertilizers. They also flourish in friable or loose soil and that means lots of compost and manure. If the soil is clay, it's best to dig in sand or volcanic cinders. Making a virtue out of a necessity, cinders in Flagstaff are readily available and are more nutritious than sand.

Since we are in a drought and onions need lots of water, the prudent way to plant onion sets is in a trench, ensuring plenty of water carefully conserved, not watering the whole bed, just the trench. Also, they should be watered regularly.

A week or so after planting, they should be side-dressed with a high nitrogen fertilizer and regularly thereafter.

The sets can be planted five inches apart so that around June 15
spring onions can be harvested by plucking every other onion. The remaining onions can be left to grow into magnificent globes, much to be enjoyed later in the summer and into autumn.

Think of onions as cuisine brighteners for dingy taste buds.

Copyright © Dana Prom Smith 2010

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