Pictured are Pennsylvania Farm Show award-winning onions grown by Mark Eyer.

HARRISBURG – A South Middleton Township man who loves to grow onions found that victory was sweet at the 103rd Pennsylvania Farm Show.

Mark S. Eyer received a first place blue ribbon and $14 for his plate of five large yellow onions at the Pennsylvania’s version of a state fair, which ended last weekend.

“I’m very happy,” said Eyer, who has been growing onions since 1972. “This was my first time to enter anything in the Farm Show. I also won first place for largest onions in both the Dillsburg Farmers Fair and the Bloomsburg Fair.”

Candy onions are a variety of sweet, mild onions. Eyer said he bought his plants at Carlisle Country Living.

“This past year I put 120 plants out,” he said. “I plant my onions the first week of April. I put them three to four inches in the ground so just a little sticks out. I also mix mushroom soil and bone meal with the top soil.”

He said that growing onions can be a challenge, requiring the gardener to plant them, water them, pull weeds and fertilize them.

Onions rise as they grow, Eyer said, so the gardener has to cover them with more soil as they poked out of the ground.

“Usually you have to water them,” he said. “But in 2018, we had too much rain, which made it a tough year for gardening. But my onions didn’t have any mold problems. We had so much rain that I didn’t think the onions would keep after I harvested them in August. They did really well despite the rain.”

Due to the rainy 2018 growing season, Eyer said he didn’t think his onions would keep long enough to enter in the Farm Show.

“After I pulled them, I put them in basement and ran the dehumidifier,” he said. “That helped and they kept. These are the last of my onions for the season.”

Eyer said that candy onions are all purpose and mild, good for eating fresh in salads or sandwiches or good to use in cooking.

He said his grandfather taught how to grow vegetables. He now grows corn, tomatoes, peppers, onions, beans and other “normal back yard garden items. I grow my tomato plants from seed.”

Eyer has been attending the Farm Show since he was a boy. He said he always has liked the vegetable exhibits.

“I always wanted to enter and finally did this year,” he said. “I will enter next year if my crops are worthy. It all depends on the weather.”

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