Life patience, enjoying the process & growing cipolla onions

Gardening is often a test of patience in both playing in the dirt and navigating life. Weeding, sowing seeds, trimming, clipping, pulling, building plots, aching backs and harvesting a little bit everyday is like a life metaphor. It seems as if each garden task tests tests our patience and endurance for everything outside the walls of our home farm.

Take for instance, these cipolla onions we sowed last year in November 2010. These gorgeous Southern Italian long red onions would be new to our garden and before the seeds were sowed, we were already planning recipes. But maybe we were too anxious, and every few weeks we’d head out to the garden to check on their progress, salivating at the thought of caramelized cipolla onions, pickled cipolla onions and many more recipes to come.

But for the longest time, the seeds didn’t sprout. While the other onion seeds were in full bulb glory, these cipolla onions didn’t even break the earth. After about 3 months, we almost gave up on the plot and came close to sowing lettuce seeds in their place.

Patience is a virtue in life, and when it comes to gardening, the same principle applies. Sometimes we get so anxious to yank out something that doesn’t fruit or flower when we want it to. It’s often easy to do that and give up because it’s easier to head out to the nursery and buy a new plant or in our case, sow different seeds.

Then we always remind ourselves that the process is what really matters more, not the end product. The process of gardening, practicing patience and the daily task of nurturing a plant to full fruition is what really matters.

The same principle applies to life, to always remember to enjoy the process.

So, we continued to clean this cipolla onion plot of weeds even when there were no signs of cipolla onion. Why? Because the principle of patience and just enjoying the whole process of gardening became the priority again.

Finally, after about 4 months of staring at bare dirt, these onions seeds started to sprout. We squealed and hoorayed not because we we were going to finally get some gorgeous cipolla onions from the garden, but because we reminded ourselves of why we love gardening so much.

The process of watching, waiting and nurturing this cipolla onion plot was worth the 9 months of wait. No farmers market onions could have been fresher nor satisfying to us.

Playing in the dirt reinforced our life patience and reminded us of always to enjoy the process, which is what really matters.

Thank you Cipolla onions,

diane and todd


{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. Judy

    You might try soaking the seeds overnight next try. This usually makes them sprout way faster. You can do this with most seeds. Love your blog and your photos. Very inspiring. I dream that I could have blog so beautiful. What to call it though, I have a Cambodian husband and I’m from California..hmmm

  2. Nand

    I was looking for motivating words that described patience and found the best ones in your post.
    Thank you for sharing such wonderful thoughts!

  3. Maggie

    Where did you find the seeds?

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Hi Maggie,
      These particular seeds we found in the ferry building in San Francisco, although since then we’ve noticed them in a few of our good local nurseries.
      T & D

      1. Maggie

        OMG! Now I am really pinning away! The Ferry Plaza Farmer’s Market! St Benoit yogurt, that amazing dried fruit! I planned a vacation to the area around maximizing the number of days I could go to that market. Can you please tell me if RauRam is different from Thai basil. Trying to locate the seed but not having a lot of luck. Absolutely love your blog!

        1. White on Rice Couple

          Hi Maggie,
          Rau Ram is completely different from Thai Basil. Musky, a touch spicy in the way arugula is spicy. I don’t know of any other herb which has a similar taste. I wish we had a seed source for you. We will start ours from the cuttings we buy in the Vietnamese markets. It loves water and roots very easily. If you can find any in your local markets that may be an option for you. Good luck!

          T & D

  4. Nancy@acommunaltable

    I always find such great inspiration on your blog T and D!!! This message could not be more timely! You are right – gardening is indeed a metaphor for life – it is the journey and not the final destination that matters!!
    Those onions are a wonderful reminder that everything worth having is worth waiting for!!

  5. Jaina

    Beautiful photos of some lovely produce!

    Gardening is a test of patience, but it always pays off in some way or another. It can be frustrating – I’ve had 2 years where all of my tomato crops have died due to disease. But you just have to pick yourself up and keep trying.

  6. cooking devil

    One should say that “Cipolla” is simply the Italian word for “Onion”.
    The actual name of the thing is “Cipolla di Tropea” – “Tropea Onion”.
    Tropea itself is a city:

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Thanks for the clarification!

  7. Mairi @ Toast

    Beautiful post & the prettiest onions I have ever seen! 🙂

  8. make roux

    This is the perfect little onion to grow amongst top-up growing veggies. I always plant several varieties of small onions around my peppers, tomatoes, and beans. I plant using the square foot gardening method, so I just distribute seeds or bulbs in a square around other veggies.

  9. terri

    interesting variety–how does it taste, compared to other red onions? (or other varieties of cipolla, for that matter?)

  10. a suburban kitchen

    Absolutely gorgeous color. i love nature!

  11. Maureen

    I love the color of those onions! I can’t wait to put some in a pot myself.

  12. Snippets of Thyme

    I’m so glad I saw the comment above about growing them in pots. That would work for me. My knees touch grass and I start itching all over! I do lots and lots of pots.

  13. MikeVFMK

    Lovely. Growth requires care and patience. In life, in gardening. I never thought Cipolla onions could look so beautiful. Obviously, they are. As is this post.

  14. susan

    Life is full of “to do” lists and I often forget to just sit, relax, and take a breath. Thanks for reminding me. Lovely post, lovely photos!

  15. Christine

    Your photos of the onions are beautiful! Wonderful and thoughtful post.

  16. G

    are onions are as beautiful as the way you wrote the process of growing them. 🙂

  17. Sally cameron

    They gorgeous! And I’ll bet they are sweet and wonderful to taste. Could I grow them in big pots? I have no in ground space to garden.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Hi Sally,
      That is how we are growing them. We are using the half wine barrel pots to grow them!

      T & D

  18. Nev

    I found that by sowing the seeds in individual cells and putting them in the cold frame late February early March until they germinate, and then putting them into the ground around around early April (March if you live down south) they are a nice size ready for lifting around about now (Late July).

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Hi Nev,
      Thanks for the fantastic tips!
      T & D

  19. Maria

    Beautiful onions! Pregnancy has taught me a lot about patience and enjoying the journey. Some days are rough, but I know the end result will be well worth it. Thanks for this post.

  20. Donna A.

    Nine months of waiting gave birth to those beautiful baby bulbs. I forgot how gorgeous fuchsia and green are together. I know it’s all about the journey, but how’s the final result – taste like shallots?

  21. Helene

    The joy of gardening. We lived on a farm and was always amazed at everything that was coming out of that garden. Well worth the efforts 🙂

  22. TheKitchenWitch

    Maybe this is why I stink at gardening. I have the patience of a gnat. I’m glad yours paid off, though. I can’t wait to see what you’ll be using them for!

  23. Bev Weidner

    Absolutely love it. I just want to give those little onions a pacifier and rock them to sleep.

  24. Nisrine M.

    The cipollas are gorgeous. This post is encouraging me to plant some. Gardening is the source of much pleasure and learning.

  25. Liz@The Happ Space

    Such a lovely post. I know I get impatient sometimes with gardening, but I have to keep reminding myself to slow down and enjoy the process. Because by the look of your pictures, the outcome seems so worth it. Thank you!

  26. Kalyn

    They are so gorgeous. And so many things about gardening provide lessons for life.

  27. Lynne @ 365 Days of Baking

    Good or in this case, great things come to those who wait.
    Absolutely beautiful pictures! I`ve never heard of these, thank you for bringing them to my attention.

  28. Heidi / foodiecrush

    I have tried to find cipolla onions at farmer’s markets and to no avail, they certainly aren’t sold in stores here. Where did you get your starts? As always, beautiful photos and so glad you sat back and waited. As you alluded to, the old addage “if it’s worth it, it’s worth the wait” is true.

  29. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga

    What a beautiful set of pics of the onions and what a beautiful sentiment overall.

    “Playing in the dirt reinforced our life patience and reminded us of always to enjoy the process, which is what really matters.”–
    I am reminded of that day in, day out, since becoming a parent. You can’t hurry up the phases and stages that are hard, and the good times always pass far too quickly; all you can do is enjoy the process, have patience, and take life a day at a time.

    See you in 72 hours!!!!

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