How to Grow Onions

Wear navy blue coveralls when you plant onions. They will have the earthy, oaky smell of the distillery where you are a cooper. For your granddaughter that will become the smell of her childhood. In fact you will wear these for all manual activities. Most other times you will wear a shirt and tie. And my, you will be handsome.

Smile with your fuzzy, black curls billowing in the wind as you explain the process to your four-year-old apprentice. She will look up at you with wide eyes and marvel at your endless knowledge.

Make the holes for the onions by pressing into the fertile earth with your strong, hard-working fingers and instruct your eager assistant to drop a single bulb upright into each nest.

The Scottish rain will help them on their way. Spend as much time in the garden as you do in the house, tending to everything outdoors with equal care. Your garden will be perfect.

When the onions are ready share them with family and neighbours. In fact you will give and share for many years in many ways.

In the days before your passing be sure to take your now-grown granddaughter’s hand in yours and remind her of these rules. Tell her how her company pleased you as you planted those vegetables and remind her how well she listened. Tell her how perfectly she positioned each bulb. And tell her how much you love her. Because you didn’t just teach her how to grow onions. You also taught her to love.

In the last five years Donna Richardson has lived in seven homes in five countries with her two children and one husband - most recently in Dubai. She spends much of her time lost in the desert and drinking tea.