In a wild fit of unfounded optimism about the upcoming year, John and I bought a car. A Prius, to be exact.

Our Beetle is twelve years old and by golly, I’ve wanted a Prius ever since the first one silently rolled into the country. Besides, this is a 2011 model so maybe we got a good deal on it (other than the car salesperson, who can say for certain?) and at a mere 0.9% interest, it was hard to pass up. Well, impossible to pass up, really. I mean, we did buy the thing.

John and I try to abide by the rule that if we feel like we can’t purchase something outright, we simply don’t purchase it (which partially explains why our previous car is twelve). Prior to the Prius, the last time we took out a loan was back in 2005 when Kubota offered 0.0% interest on tractors, a rate that makes 0.9% look downright extravagant. And at that time, Farmer John wanted a new tractor as much as I’ve been pining over Priii the past few years.

Sometimes, you just have to break the rules.

Once we’d finished with the ridiculous yet mandatory price negotiations — you know very well the salesman isn’t checking with his manager every time he ostensibly walks away to do so — our sales guy asked if we’d like to take the car home that evening. Since John and I had driven to the dealership straight from last Wednesday’s market and thus were in two vehicles, that option didn’t seem possible, so the salesman suggested we pick it up the following day.

“We can’t come tomorrow,” John explained. “We have to plant onions.”

Turns out it was the first time the salesman had ever heard that excuse. Weird, huh?

Admittedly, given the choice any other day between picking up a new car and planting five or six 200-foot beds of onions, the car would win hands down. But we were already running a little late with the onions and had to be practical. Darn it.

To get started on the process, we first have to dig up the small onions we’d thickly planted from seed back in September, as demonstrated here by Mary. (Notice she was wearing her Smurf jammy pants that day, yet she still allowed me to take the photo. Mary’s a really, really good sport.)

After enough bundles of onions have been pulled from the ground, we cut about five inches or so off the tops — and judging from the yellowy tips of this year’s starts, this is happening none too soon.

Upon filling several buckets with starts, we carry them to what will be their permanent rows and space them accordingly so as to give ample room for the onions to bulb.

For these initial rows, Dana and John were the onion layer-outers, while Mary and I followed along as the onion pusher-inners.

Both jobs are equally painful. Although this year the pain seems to be eased a bit by the fact that we’re planting in 200-foot beds, rather than the never-ending 400-footers we generally reserve for onions. At least we’re telling ourselves the pain is lessened. Our backs and knees don’t always agree with us, especially after two full days of it. Still, there’s no denying the sense of accomplishment when we looked back at the first five beds — the first 3,000 lineal feet — of tiny onions all tucked into place.

Only five more beds to go….

Optimism, founded or not, is key when you attack a project like this. When you think about it, planting onions isn’t too unlike signing on the dotted line for a car loan in that regard. Just as we wouldn’t commit to making monthly payments without feeling like the future holds enough promise for us to be able to continue doing so for three years, we’d surely not put ourselves through the backbreaking work of setting out thousands and thousands of tiny starts, one-by-one, if we didn’t think we could end up with a successful onion crop come this spring.

And if the onions do as well as we hope, chances are we’ll be toting them to market in our Prius. During the past twelve years, the Beetle served us well as the overflow vehicle for the boxes and containers of produce that wouldn’t fit into the packed farm truck, and when we examined the interior of the Prius for the first time at the dealership, one important criteria was whether there’s enough room in the back for this very purpose. There is. In fact, it appears we can cram even more boxes of onions inside the Prius than we ever could the Beetle.

So much for that new car smell.

* * *

This Wednesday’s stand will be the last one for the season. We’re tickled that we were able to keep going as long into January as we have (and thank you all for sticking with us!) but now it’s time for a little break so we can prepare the farm for spring. After this week’s final winter farm stand, we’ll return the first week of March and start it all over again!

In the meantime, for market this week we’ll have:

Brussels sprouts (don’t know yet whether we’ll have lots or not lots…but we’ll bring as many as we can!); spinach; lettuce mix; some Euro salad mix; bags of broccoli side shoots; Watermelon radishes; Brussels greens; chard; two kales; bags of arugula; golden beets; bulk Asian greens; bunches of sweet Hakurei turnips; and whatever else we might be able to scrounge up.

Jo Dwyer
Angel Valley Organic Farm
Farm stands:
Saturdays 9:00-1:00 in Jonestown on FM 1431 at the blinking yellow light [closed until March]; and
Wednesdays 10:00-2:00 in NW Austin at the Asian American Center, 11713 Jollyville Road (1-1/2 blocks north of the intersection of Jollyville and Duval)