This year we harvested 900 kg of onions from a half acre patch in our maincrop field. Harvest coincided with the onset of a very damp autumn, and we weren't able to dry the onions sufficiently for long storage, so had to come up with an alternative solution to relying on warm dry weather.
|James helping to build the onion-drying contraption.|
So in the cow-shed we built an onion-drying contraption. We raised a wooden slatted tonne-box on blocks, filled it full of onions, blocked the gaps around the sides with old doors and boards of wood screwed into place, borrowed an industrial fan (thanks Tim!), bought a gas-fired space-heater, and heated the onions from below.
|Martin and Nyssa filling the contraption with onions.|
We were aiming at a temperature of 26 degrees Celsius for a 3-day period, but for health and safety concerns we turned the device off late at night, and re-fired it first thing in the morning, so the temperature did fluctuate (though we left the fan on 24/7). We also found that the onions on the very bottom were far too hot and turned soft, while those on the very top were not up to temperature. But after four days of heating in this way the onions were all dry (fingers crossed) and ready for storage.
|A fraction of our onions dried and hung from the rafters for winter storage.|
We stacked half the onions in open plastic crates, and suspended the other half from the shed rafters in net-bags. Like this we hope they will store well into the new year. The contraption worked very well, and the onions look good, and have already been selling (£1.50 per kilo).
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