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Grammar and Gardens

Some topics we looked into while you were reading last month’s issue

You don’t want stray apostrophes sprouting in your prose like weeds in your keyhole garden, do you? Pardon our garden talk, we just want you to write right.

Only Tears of Joy in Weslaco

Shoppers eagerly await the arrival of Texas 1015 onions in produce sections every spring. Weslaco, where the 1015 was developed, celebrates the signature vegetable with Texas Onion Fest.

Why 1015? The famous onion gets its name from the recommended planting date—October 15. Texas A&M University scientists in Weslaco introduced the Texas 1015 in the 1980s after decades of research. This allium is heralded for being supersweet and tearless.

As a tribute, Lali Dena honors her grandfather Gregorio Vega, who worked at the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station in Weslaco for 33 years. “I remember he would take us to the festival so we could taste the onions he planted,” says Dena, an administrative assistant at Magic Valley Electric Cooperative, which sponsors the Onion Fest Car Show & Shine. “I’ve been a volunteer for the past eight years, and I’ll continue to be a volunteer in memory of my grandfather.”

In 1997, the Legislature declared the sweet onion the state vegetable. A year later, Weslaco started Texas Onion Fest.

Did You Know?

Because of a scandal in 1955, when two onion traders cornered the onion futures market on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Congress outlawed futures trading in onions forever. Onions are the only agricultural product for which futures trading is illegal.

By The Numbers

Onions are Texas’ leading vegetable crop, leading to sales upward of $100 million per year. The abundance of alliums and agriculture is celebrated on National Ag Day, March 15, but the onion has been a staple of diets spanning the ages, including in ancient Egypt.

Red Pencils Rule

March 4 is National Grammar Day, and the wordsmiths at Texas Co-op Power will beam proudly when they aren’t wincing at these offenses:

Chris Burrows: What affects me most is the use of effect and affect. I want to effect change on that topic, because the effect of the confusion is bitter affect.

Suzanne Halko: The incorrect use of apostrophes in plurals such as dates (1950’s) or names (Halko’s). The Halkos are passionate about good grammar.

Charles Lohrmann: Your and you’re. Your indicates possession. You’re means you are. You’re welcome.

Ellen Stader: Its and it’s. Its is possessive. It’s means it is. It seems like a small thing, but it’s a big deal.

Tom Widlowski: That and which. Some sentences have phrases that are essential to their meaning. Some phrases, which are usually set off by commas, are not essential.

All these grammar rules get celebrated again March 8—National Proofreading Day.

Had enough with the grammar rules?

The next day is for you—March 9, National Get Over It Day.

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Texas garden, beg your pardon
How does your raised bed grow?
It’s 3-feet high, shaped like a pie
And, water-wise, fit for a show.

For four years, you’ve made Keyhole Gardening [February 2012] the No. 1 most-read story on That must mean your keyhole gardens are in full production! Don’t be contrary; show us what you’ve grown! Email us or post on our Facebook page.

Houston or Bust

March Madness makes its way April 2–4 to Texas when Houston hosts college basketball’s Final Four. Three notable events stand out from the Final Four’s eight previous Texas visits:

2008: All four top seeds advanced to the Final Four in San Antonio, where Kansas won out over Memphis.

1986: “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison led a young Louisville team to its second title of the decade in Dallas.

1971: John Wooden’s UCLA team continued its storied run with a fifth straight title in Texas’ first Final Four—in Houston.