In this issue...
  • Onion of the Month: Copra
  • From Our Friends
  • From Jeanie's Kitchen
  • Q&A: Fertilizing
  • Onion Factoid

  • Affiliations
    Watch That Weather! February 2007

    lupinemorning Dear Fellow Gardener,

    Welcome to Issue 3 of The Onion Patch! Pictured here is Ms. Lupe Contreras, one of my most valued and loyal employees. Given that her hands are moving so fast that they're a blur, it's obvious that Lupe was too busy to stop to pose for this picture. This year's crop is absolutely gorgeous, and we're thankful that our recent cold spell didn't drop temperatures low enough to damage it.

    Onions are hardy to 20 degrees, and it usually takes single-digit temperatures to kill them. If you receive your plants and the weather prohibits you from planting them right away, spread them out in a cool, dry place. A young onion can live off its bulb for up to two weeks.

    If you've already planted your onions and expect a cold spell, the best thing to do is protect them by covering them with straw or blankets. A few degrees can make a big difference.

    On another note, lots of folks have asked about the Sweet Sandwich onion. For the past 6 years, I've purchased the entire production of Sweet Sandwich seed. Each year the germination has dropped significantly, so the seed company has discontinued it. Copra makes an excellent replacement in the Northeast and Northwest, First Edition in the Midwest. Both are outstanding keepers, although neither sweetens during storage quite like Sweet Sandwich.

    The next issue will come out in March, and we look forward to seeing you then. Meanwhile, if you have any questions, please give us a call at 877-367-1015 or send us your questions here. We'll be happy to help!

    Bruce "Onionman" Frasier

    copra Onion of the Month: Copra
    Sweet and Strong

    The Copra is a medium-sized, sweet hybrid onion that's great for cooking. It's characterized by a thin neck, a round body, and hard, thick, dark-yellow skin; when stored properly, it stays firm, juicy, and crisp for months. The Copra is also known for its resistance to the fungal disease fusarium. The flavor is strong, which makes it a no-no for most salads, but it works very well with meat dishes, especially after simmering in butter.

    Learn more

    FoodPantryPrep From Our Friends

    This regular customer from Missouri gives a lot to his friends and neighbors, and to a place called Friendship Manor. The people there are on fixed incomes but cook for themselves. He provides them with plenty of extra produce, including these onions!

    We love hearing from customers. Send us your favorite "onion photo" and we'll try to include it in a future newsletter. To email photos, send them to

    From Jeanie's Kitchen
    Shrimp Ceviche

    • 3 lbs small raw shrimp, cleaned
    • 4 large tomatoes, seeded and diced
    • 6 limes, juiced
    • 4 lemons, juiced
    • 1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
    • 1 Serrano chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped
    • 1 onion, diced
    • Salt and pepper to taste
    • 3 tbsp tomato sauce

    Put shrimp in the bottom of a glass baking dish. Pour lemon and lime juice over them, and refrigerate for three hours. The juice will "cook" the shrimp. Toss with remaining ingredients and refrigerate for one more hour or longer.

    Q&A: Fertilizing

    Q. How should I fertilize my onions?

    A. Before planting, apply a balanced fertilizer (10-20- 10) in bands three inches below the surface, and within 10 inches of where you'll plant the onions. Phosphate, potash, copper, manganese, and zinc are usually applied only at planting. For convenience, you can buy your starter fertilizer from us when you order your onions.

    Once the onions are established (three weeks after planting), they'll require more nitrogen for leaf formation. An onion typically generates a new leaf every 2-3 weeks. When you receive your transplants from us, they generally have 4-5 leaves. The perfect onion has 13 rings, so the key is to generate as many large leaves as you can before the onion starts bulbing.

    Feeding the onion every 2-3 weeks with a good source of nitrogen, such as ammonium sulfate (21-0- 0), is essential. Water the onions after every application, because the only way for the plant to take up the nitrogen is through the root system. Once the onion starts bulbing, additional nitrogen shouldn't be applied, since it will produce bulbs with thick necks. These won't shrink on drying, and therefore won't store well.

    Onion Factoid

    There are fewer than 1,000 commercial onion farmers in America. We're one of the few and the proud!

    About Dixondale Farms
    As the largest and oldest onion plant farm in the US, Dixondale Farms offers a wide selection of top-quality, disease-free, ready-to-plant onion plants. To see our complete product line, request a catalog, or for growing tips and cultural information, visit our web site by clicking here.

    Whether you're planting one bunch or thousands of acres, we're committed to your success. If you have either questions or suggestions, we'd love to hear from you. You can reach us from 8AM to 5PM Central Time at 877-367-1015, or email us any time at

    phone: 877-367-1015
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