Some Bermuda historians think that there were onion seeds aboard the Sea Venture when it was wrecked off Bermuda in 1609 while sailing from England to Virginia. The seeds may have been planted, but they didn’t survive because they lacked water.

Louisa Hutchings Smith, in her book Bermuda’s Oldest Inhabitants, Tales of Plant Life, says the first record of onion seeds brought to the new colony was in 1616 along with “two watering pots wch we pray lett be used if your season afte sewings be too drye for what of reigned.” These seeds were imported on the ship Edwin by Governor Daniel Tucker, an enthusiastic farmer. The seeds grew and onions thrived, and by 1834, the onion was an important Bermuda export.

Bermuda was nicknamed ‘The Onion Patch’ after we began to export crops of onions all over the world by boat – our reputation was to onions then what it is to pink beaches now. This reputation has stuck, and Bermudians have never been prouder of our big, sweet pearls. For their new year’s celebration, St. Georges still drops a giant onion at the stroke of midnight.

Onions are a relatively low-maintenance vegetable to grow in your garden. They basically tend to themselves once planted and can withstand full sun and low water conditions. Just make sure your bulbs have plenty of space to grow.

Recipe: Marinated Roasted Onions

1 cup water
1 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 pinch red pepper flakes
4 large onions, halved
4 tbsp butter
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped

Blend ingredients and pour into a baking dish. Place the onions, flat side down, in the marinade. Marinate overnight, covered, in refrigerator. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Top each onion with ½ tbsp butter and remaining rosemary. Roast uncovered in oven until golden brown and tender, about 1 hour, basting once or twice during roasting. Remove from heat, spoon reduced sauce over and sprinkle with parsley or more fresh chopped rosemary. Remove outer skins before eating.