Onion Bulbing Tips
Dear Fellow Gardener,
After we published our onion planting tips last month,
a lot of you contacted us to ask how you could tell
when your onions start to bulb. We learned that many
of you have been planting your onions way too deep.
Onions will start bulbing once they're getting enough
sunlight, but if you plant them too deep it may be
difficult to tell precisely when this process begins.
Your best bet is to plant your onions no more than 1/2
to 1 inch deep, a practice that works well for any
variety. Once bulbing begins, the ground will start
cracking as the expanding bulb starts shoving the dirt
out of the way. If you plant them too deep, you won't be
able to notice this as easily. In addition, planting them
too deep will restrict the expansion (and thus the size)
of the bulb, and will encourage rotting.
Short-day onions need 10-12 hours of daylight; long-
day varieties require 14-16 hours. This is why onions
developed for long-day Northern latitudes do poorly in
the South -- they produce plenty of tops, but no bulbs --
and why short-day Southern varieties aren't as
effective in the north. They do mature more quickly, but
they produce smaller bulbs.
I hope that clears up your bulbing concerns. If not,
please give us a call at 877-367-1015 or send
us your questions
here. We'll be happy to help.
Our next issue will come out in May, and we look
forward to seeing you then. In the meantime, happy
Bruce "Onionman" Frasier
Onion of the Month: Lancelot Leeks
Surprisingly Subtle in Flavor
Dixondale Farms doesn't just do onions: we also
specialize in leeks and other onion relatives. Our
Lancelot Leeks are a great option for any gardener
looking for something new to try. From a culinary
perspective, they have a subtle flavor that lends itself
well to soups and other dishes in which onions are
often used. Grocery stores tend to charge outrageous
prices for leeks, when you can find them; but luckily,
there's always the option of growing them yourself.
Unlike onions, leeks don't bulb. They remain
cylindrical in profile, with at best a slight bulge at the
root-end. That means you can plant them a little
deeper than you would onions, or you can mound up
dirt around the shaft. If you don't, the exposed portion
of the root will become tough and inedible. Be careful
when covering the root; if you get dirt in between the
leaves, it'll end up incorporated into the root layers as
a gritty surprise for later on. Some farmers avoid this
by placing toilet-paper rolls over the leek's shaft.
Lancelot leeks can mature in as little as 90 days, but
it's safe to leave them in the ground for as long as 180
days. When it comes time to harvest, use a spading
From Our Friends
Our friend Mike writes:
"Thought you would enjoy a picture of part of this
year's onion harvest. We were the envy of local hobby
farmers. I have been a customer for several years
now, and find your onions and fertilizer extremely
successful. What fun to be able to brag about the
onions you grow!"
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
From Jeanie's Kitchen
- 2 large yellow or white onions, peeled
- 2 tablespoons tomato juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon paprika
Cut onions in half crosswise and place them cut side
up in a baking dish. Combine remaining ingredients
in saucepan on low until butter is melted; stir well.
Pour over center of each onion-half, and bake at 350
degrees for one hour.
Q. What causes onions to bolt?
A. Because an onion is a biannual, it takes
two years to go to seed. However, this process can be
altered by temperatures, transplanting, or both. An
onion's first life begins at our farm, when we take it
from a seed to a plant. When transplanted, the onion
begins its second life. At a point when the plant has at
least six leaves and experiences an extended period
of cooling temperatures, it can go dormant a second
As the temperature rises, the onion tries to start
growing again, marking the beginning of its third life.
The plant believes that it's going to die, so it tries to
reproduce and grows a flower. This flower formation
is called bolting or vernalization, and it's
Occasionally other factors, such as damage by
cultivation or excessive stress, may cause bolting.
That's why only a few plants may bolt in an
entire plot or field. Should this occur, the onion will still
be perfectly edible; however, as the seed-stem gets
bigger, the ring associated with it will become piffy
and inedible. If left to maturity, this ring will rot quickly
and cause the entire onion to rot as well. It's best to
eat the onion as soon as you see the seed-stem.
Don't bend or break the top; the leaf is hollow, and
breaking it will allow water to go right into the center of
the onion and cause it to rot.
Ancient Egyptians were so impressed by the spherical
shape and concentric rings of the onion that they
crafted its image in gold, a treatment that no other
vegetable ever received.
About Dixondale Farms
As the largest and oldest onion plant farm in
Dixondale Farms offers a wide selection of
top-quality, disease-free, ready-to-plant onion
To see our complete product line, request a
or for growing tips and cultural information,
web site by clicking
Whether you're planting one bunch or
acres, we're committed to your success. If
either questions or suggestions, we'd love to
from you. You can reach us from 8AM to 5PM
Central Time at 877-367-1015, or email us
any time at