August 12, 2019 Sweet Onions, Thomas Andrew Knight, Sir William Jackson Hooker, Clarence Birdseye, Ray Bradbury, The New Healing Herbs by Michael Castleman, Seeds for Fall Crops, and Jefferson’s Tuberoses

If you’re looking to grow an onion that won’t make you cry and give you that bad breath, Sweet Onions are your thing.

If you buy them in the store, they’re usually more expensive than regular onions.

Sweet Onions are sweet because the sugar and water content is higher. That’s the upside.

The downside to the higher sugar and water content is that they won’t store as long as regular onions.

Sweet Onions have a lower level of sulfur compounds, which means they’re also more comfortable to digest - and it also means they won’t cause your eyes to tear up during prep work.

Vidalia onions were the first sweet onions to be sold across the United States. They were grown primarily in Georgia - Vidalia, Georgia to be exact. Today, we have other options, including Walla Walla Sweet Onions from Washington, Maui Sweet Onions from Hawaii, and Spring Sweets from Texas.

Sweet Onions can be traced back to seeds brought over from the Canary Islands in 1898.





#OTD It’s the birthday of Thomas Andrew Knight, who was born in England on this day in 1759.

Knight served as the second president of the Royal Horticultural Society. He assumed the position at the urging of his friend Joseph A Banks.

Knight's inclination was always to turn inward. Banks helped him overcome that.

He also encouraged Knight to begin reading scientific papers published by authors. Otherwise, Knight was purposefully shutting himself off from outside influences.

During his life, Knight had inherited 10,000 acres of land, and he used the property to conduct all kinds of experiments on plants like strawberries, cabbages, and peas.

Knight was a born pragmatist. His breeding efforts were always designed to help make better plants to feed the masses.



#OTD It’s the anniversary of the death of Sir William Jackson Hooker who died on this day in 1865

Hooker was both a botanist and a botanical illustrator. Like Thomas Andrew Knight, Hooker enjoyed the friendship of Joseph Banks.

Hooker was wealthy; he didn’t need a patron to fund his expeditions. His first expedition was to Iceland in the summer of 1809. This was another one of Bank’s ideas - and Hooker went there to collect, as well as to make trials of everything he discovered.

Unfortunately, on his way home, there was a terrible fire. Most people don't realize it, but Hooker nearly died. All of his work was destroyed in the fire. Yet, Hooker was able to reconstruct his discoveries and publish an account called Tour in Iceland. It turns out, his mind was a steel trap.

Hooker was known worldwide for an unsurpassed herbarium. By 1841, he was appointed the director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Hooker brought Kew to greatness; expanding the gardens from 10 to 75 acres, adding a 270-acre Arboretum, and establishing a museum for botany.

In 1865, there was a throat infection going around at Kew. Hooker contracted it and died. His son Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, and outstanding botanist in his own right succeeded him at Kew.



#OTD Today, in 1930, a United States patent was issued to Clarence Birdseye for his method of packaging frozen foods.

One of Birdseye’s first jobs was as a field naturalist for the USDA. The job leads him to Labrador in Canada on a for trading expedition.

During his time there, Birdseye observed that the Eskimos froze their food; finding fresh food during the winter was next to impossible. Birdseye became fascinated by its quick freezing process, which cleverly used the elements of wind, ice, and super cold temperatures. Birdseye noticed when the fish was frozen quickly, and it tasted amazing when it was thawed. Birdseye’s immediately wondered if the same process could be used with fresh vegetables and other foods.

Five years later, when he returned to the United States, he invented the quick freeze machine, and he started his own frozen food company.

Five years after that, he sold his business to Frosted Foods for $22 million. The year was 1929.



Unearthed Words

“One day, you discover you are alive. Explosion! Concussion! Illumination! Delight! You laugh, you dance around, you shout. But, not long after, the sun goes out. Snow falls, but no one sees it, on an August noon.”

― Ray Bradbury, Dandelion Wine



Today's book recommendation: The New Healing Herbs by Michael Castleman


This book features 135 of the most widely used medicinal herbs.

There is a beneficial cure finder chart that shares treatments for more than 100 common conditions; for example, cinnamon to treat cuts and scrapes, Saint Johns Wort to speed healing, etc.

For each Herb, there are drawings, the history of the herb, plus instructions for growing it in your herb garden.



Today's Garden Chore

Start seeds for fall crops.

Your fall crops can include another round of quick-maturing edibles for the fall harvest.

Try to get your seeds in before the 15th.

Then, if you’re wondering what to plant, think about leafy greens. Plants like spinach, lettuce, or beets are great, and they can also be grown for their green leaves. Plants like lettuce and spinach, kohlrabi, radishes, and green onions are also an option - as well as turnips.

Peas and lettuce can handle the cold temperatures and even light frost. These crops are also excellent options for growing in cold frames.

Don't forget that bush beans, beats, and sprouts also appreciate the cold temps of fall - it's my favorite time to grow - which is why fall is often called a second spring.




Something Sweet
Reviving the little botanic spark in your heart

On this day in 1806, Thomas Jefferson’s 24 double tuberoses, Polianthes tuberosa, were blooming. Jefferson had obtained them from Bernard McMahan’s nursery, and he wrote McMahan the following January to request more tuberoses.

McMahan has also created a gardener calendar that included a list of seeds, including month by month instructions. The schedule was so foundational to Thomas Jefferson‘s gardening practice that McMahan became his garden mentor. The two exchanged regular letters about gardening.

And, it was Jefferson who selected McMahan to cultivate the specimens collected by Lewis and Clark - which he did.



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