Wednesday, April 24, 2019

1764 Plants in 18C Colonial American Gardens - Virginian John Randolph (727-1784) - Onion

A Treatise on Gardening Written by a native of this State (Virginia)
Author was John Randolph (1727-1784)
Written in Williamsburg, Virginia about 1765
Published by T. Nicolson, Richmond, Virginia. 1793
The only known copy of this booklet is found in the Special Collections of the Wyndham Robertson Library at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia.


Onion, Cepa. There are three sorts for winter use; the Strasburg...the red Spanish Onion...the white Spanish Onion... There are other sorts which suit the spring and summer season best. There are Cepa ascalonica,from Ascalon, a city in India, or the Scallion or Escallion. The Cives, or Copula, the young Onion. The Welch Onion, and lastly the Ciboule. The three first sorts should be sown in February, the first open weather, or beginning of March at farthest, and in about six weeks your Onions will be up, and ought to be weeded. The rows should be about twelve or eighteen inches asunder, if sowed in drills, which is the best method, arid the plants should be drawn to be about five or six inches apart. This may be no loss, because they will serve with young salad in the spring; about the middle or latter end of July your plants will be ripe, which may be discovered by the dropping down or shrinking of the blades; then they should be drawn up, and the extreme part of the blades should be cropped off, and the plants laid on the ground to dry. They should be turned at least every other day, otherwise they will strike fresh root, especially in moist weather. In about a fortnight they will be sufficiently dried; you are then to rub off all the earth and take care to remove all that are any ways decayed, and the sound ones laid as thin as possible in some room or garret, as close from the air as possible, and at least once a month look over them, to see if any of them are decayed, for if any are so, they will affect the. rest; or if too near one another, or in heaps, they will heat, and probably ruin the whole crop. The white Onion is the sweetest, though all the three sorts will degenerate into one another in the course of time. In March'you should dig a trench, and put some of your most flourishing plants about six inches deep, and as far asunder,v into it, which should be covered over with a rake, and in about a month's time the leaves will appear above ground, and when your plants begin to head, they should be supported by stakes and packthread or yarn, otherwise they will be very liable to be injured by the winds. These will produce you seed about August, which may be known by the seeds changing brown, and the bells where the seed is contained opening. The heads should be critically cut, otherwise the seed will be dropped, and when cut, the heads should be exposed to the sun, and sheltered in the night and wet weather, and when suificiently dry, they should be rubbed out, and after being exposed one day more to the sun, may be put into bags and preserved for the following year. The Scallion is a small Onion, and is sown early in the spring, and never forms any bulb, and is used green in the spring with young salads. The Ciboule and Welch Onion, are thought to be the same by Miller.