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Multiple personalities

I suspect that many who haven't had a garden in the past will do so this spring, especially with the cost of food increasing almost as fast as the price of a barrel of oil.

I suspect that many who haven't had a garden in the past will do so this spring, especially with the cost of food increasing almost as fast as the price of a barrel of oil.

Well, it's not that bad yet, but there's one thing that I know: You can save quite a bit of money by growing your own vegetables.

I've recently completed planting about my 30th garden (give or take a couple) and eagerly await the produce it will yield.

But this year, I won't have to wait until the beginning of July. Some volunteer leaf lettuce should be ready in a week or two. And parsley, sprouting from last spring's planting, was a nice touch to a pot of soup.

But the most pleasant surprise has been the shallots and onions that wintered successfully in my Grand Forks garden. I picked a few of them before tilling the spot and used them in a nice marinara sauce.

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Onions (and other members of the allium family) are one of two vegetables that always will have a place in any garden of mine. (Tomatoes are the other, although they technically are a fruit.) It's probably because they last the longest.

I'm just finishing the last of my 2007 crop of sweet onions, Bermudas and a hybrid called Candy (I just plant transplants, which give me bigger onions in the fall), and still have a large supply of shallots . The onions and shallots keep well in our basement "cold room," where the temperature stays between 45 and 50 degrees.

While the shallots will last through the summer, I'll have to rely on the Vidalias and Walla Wallas that now are available in supermarkets to get me through my onion shortage. And so will the walking Egyptian onions, a type of multiplier, like shallots, which grow like weeds in our backyard. This fall, I'll also harvest another type of multiplier onion, courtesy of Basil Almquist, Hillsboro, N.D. And add to that a sampling of Texas sweet onions (1051's) that neighbor, Mark Whalen, gave me.

Onions are are a good source of vitamin C and fiber, and like garlic, have been shown to lower cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. Also, eating onions as little as two times per week is associated with a significantly reduced risk of developing colon cancer.

I can thank my dad for my love of onions. I share his affection for green onions and cucumbers in vinegar, as well as liver and onions, although I eat the latter sparingly because of a concern about cholesterol.

Onions were one of the vegetables that Dad grew most successfully in his garden east of Crookston, at the farm of his friend, Harvey Delorme.

While working as an hourly summer employee of the Minnesota Highway Department at a gravel pit near Harvey's, I used to sneak over to pick a onions once in a while.

Dad put in the garden at Harvey's because of poor soil in our backyard and to get away from the urban rabbits, which weren't a problem after he shot them with a .22 out the back door. That was until Mrs. Lafaive called the police.

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He could have used some Liquid Fence.

Tiedeman is food editor at the Herald. Reach him at (701) 780-1136, (800) 477-6572, ext. 136, or jtiedeman@gfherald.com .

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