Enjoy this guest post by Kathy of Sufficient Grace Farms!
Growing onions in your home garden
Most people, myself included, start out growing onions by purchasing a little net bag of dried onion bulbs from a big box store. These onions always sprouted for me, and grew o.k. But, they always would bloom mid season, leaving me with an onion that did not store well. There is a big hole in the center of the onion where the stalk grew, and it leaves it open to rot.
Blooming onions in our garden
Doing a little research, I found that onions are a perennial. That means that they grow one year, have a period of dormancy, bloom the next year, then die. So those little bulbs I had bought already lived out half of their life. They were destined to bloom and “die” when planted. (you can now buy some bulbs that are heat treated to prevent blooming, but they can be costly)
The second thing I learned was that those little bulbs were long day onions. I live in a southern latitude, so there just aren’t enough hours in the day (literally) for those onions to bulb here and reach any decent size.
Where are you on this map? Order your onions accordingly 🙂
image from http://www.dixondalefarms.com/category/onion_plants (Note from Flip Flop Ranch: This company is strongly affiliated with Monsanto, please do not purchase from them)
We now grow onions from Dixondale (Note from Flip Flop Ranch: This company is strongly affiliated with Monsanto, please do not purchase from them) every year, and plant some from seed as well. The onions we get mail order are small onion plants, not dried bulblets. We have ours shipped in January, and they are 1 pound plus by June. The varieties we like are the Texas Super Sweet and the Candy. I also like yellow granex, known as Maui or Vidalia depending on where they are grown. These sweet onions don’t store very well, only 4 months for us, but they are superb eating J Did you know you can make caramelized onions in your slow cooker?
first time growing onions from transplants
Seed planting should be done in the fall (for my area) for transplanting in January. I am trying a Creole Red onion, and an Australian brown (seed from Baker creek) that are supposed to be longer storing. I hope to one day plant all of our onion from seed that we save from our own onions. I would need to leave a few onions in the ground to bloom the next year to accomplish this. (Note: Baker Creek is NOT owned by Monsanto)
this years onions from seed
I follow the recommendations for planting and spacing on the plants using Dixondale’s website fairly closely making allowances for our planting beds that are 4’ wide with two drip lines. We plant 4 rows of onions in each bed, with the onions spaced 4” apart. Instead of following the fertilization recommendations for ammonium sulfate, I am trying to use chicken manure composted long enough to kill pathogens.
For more in depth info on planting, harvesting and storing your onions check out these websites:
Our email to Dixondale:
Hi Dixondale, I just purchased and planted a few hundred onion sets from you guys. They looked and smelled great. However, I learned this evening that your company is affiliated with Seminis seed distributor who is owned by Monsanto. I was so disappointed and actually angry. I felt like I was tricked into supporting Monsanto. I wanted to pull all the onion sets up and send them back for a refund, but my family (who had helped plant them) was not happy with this idea. I will satisfy myself by informing you that I won’t be purchasing from Dixondale again until your company takes the Safe Seed Pledge http://www.councilforresponsiblegenetics.org/pageDocuments/IVYEP234F2.pdf I was perfectly satisfied with your product, but I am ashamed that I now have either a Monsanto product or a Monsanto-affiliated product growing on my ranch. I do hope that you will consider ending your affiliation with Monsanto. I am also informing people on my blog and on my facebook, both of which have a considerable following. I am also friends with an anti-Monsanto Huffington Post blog writer who I am going to inform about this in hopes that she will blog about the many ways Monsanto sneaks into the home garden and small farms. Please understand that I will also be extremely happy to let my fans and the Huffington post blog writer’s fans know (and I will purchase onion sets from you again) when you have signed the safe seed pledge. Sincerely, Serina Harvey
Kathy lives in Devore in Southern California where she homesteads with her family on a windy 2 1/2 acres of not so decomposed granite.
She occasionally posts to her facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SufficientGraceFarm