I recently read a review of a Stax celebration night at the Proms. Stax was a record label based in Memphis at its height in the sixties. Its major artists were Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, and Booker T & the MG’s. Booker T & the MG’s are nearly all still going (the drummer was shot in the 70’s) and were appearing at the Prom.

This reminded me of a gig we went to at the Barbican in 2005 with Booker T, Eddie Floyd, William Bell, and the Blues Brothers Band – which were the guitar giant Steve Cropper and Donald Duck Dunn from the MG’s pus other Stax musicians. I have always found the Barbican a rather soulless venue, but this night twelve years ago the place was rocking. One of those gigs where nobody on stage or in the audience wanted to finish. And on it went, finally finishing with Eddie Floyd leading the whole auditorium singing at the top of their voices to his hit Knock on Wood.

Green Onions was Booker T’s biggest hit, recorded 55 years ago, but still sounding good – they were funky, jazzy, and Rock n Roll. The English instrumental group of the time were The Shadows who had far more hits, but I found them rather saccharine in comparison, Sunday schoolish, and definitely not Rock n Roll.

Which is a long preamble to say that autumn onion sets are available in the shop, together with garlic, and spring bulbs. The onion I prefer is Shakespeare which I plant in modules at the end of September. The reason for starting in modules is threefold. Firstly it gives the onion set a good start and sorts out any duds – secondly, it avoids the birds, foxes, whatever uprooting the set when planted directly into the soil – and thirdly, it allows more time to clear and prepare space on the plot for the sets to be planted.

There has been a lot of hype recently regarding using heat treated onion sets in order to avoid bolting. We haven’t supplied them in the shop, but this year Gillian asked our supplier if they had any. This was the reply Gillian received: “No varieties of autumn onion set are heated treated unless specifically requested, but the cost element then trebles, the advantage of heated treatment tends to be for growers, the stock is heat treated for about six weeks delivered direct to the farmer and planted within a couple of days, once the product comes out of store it starts to draw moisture, so by the time we have received it, then you get it and your customers receives and can plant the process becomes pointless.

All they need to do is remove the sets form the packaging and store in a dry well ventilated place for a couple of weeks and any moisture will be reduced, but planting directly upon receipt will still produce a perfectly good product. So it is just another gimmick designed to charge customers more money…”

I’m sure there are different views, but I guess at present we won’t be stocking heat treated sets.

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