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Harris Blackwood: Vidalia onions are a great start to the season
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

We are very protective of the term “Vidalia” when it comes to onions.  There are many imposters grown in various places, but there is only one true honest-to-God Vidalia.

The official debut day is Monday, April 22. The official counties are Appling, Bacon, Bulloch, Candler, Emanuel, Evans, Jeff Davis, Montgomery, Tattnall, Telfair, Toombs, Treutlen and Wheeler, as well as portions of Dodge, Jenkins, Laurens, Long, Pierce, Screven and Wayne.

I would be surprised if many of you have set foot in more than one or two of those.

We are very proud of our Vidalias and should be. You don’t have to watch the various cooking channels to see some well-known chef talking about using Vidalias in their new recipe.

Back in the late 1970s, just about any sweet onion could be called Vidalia and get away with it.

Today, there are federal and state portions of the law that regulates our state onion, and it really protects the integrity of our product.    

Let me assure you, the biggest grocery store chains will have a sale on Vidalias the first second they can do so.

They have traditionally been the first produce of the new season. I find it all rather exciting.

While the first day of spring was back in March, it’s not as if we just flip a switch and it is suddenly warm and blooming. But if this year’s allergy season has been any indicator, we will have plenty of green and blooming things to go around.

Recently, entrepreneurs in agriculture have expanded their early crops to include strawberries, a fruit that was seldom found growing in our region.

I’m told that Jaemor Farms will have a pretty good crop of strawberries this year.

In our front yard, we have some peonies, which are pretty flowers that bloom annually. By late fall, they completely disappear under the ground, but when that ground temperature reaches a certain warmth, they start the process of emerging. Nobody sends out a Wi-Fi signal, it’s just nature’s plan for carrying out God’s design.

It’s been a weird year, particularly in the West and Midwest. My friends who live in those regions are normally winterizing their snow blowers by now. Some of them have been in active use this week.

I hope that the plentiful rain here means we will have a bumper crop of local favorites like tomatoes, corn and squash, to name a few.

Easter is the start of much of that. I can remember that my granddaddy always planted something on Good Friday. He was planting when farmers relied on the phases of the moon and Farmer’s Almanac for their agricultural wisdom.

We emerge from the dark and cold of winter into this bright new season, and it feels really good.

I hope that today marks the start of great things ahead for you.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose column publishes on Sundays.

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