In this issue...
  • Onion of the Month: Lancelot Leeks
  • From Our Friends
  • From Jeanie's Kitchen
  • Q&A: Bolting
  • Onion Factoid
  • About Dixondale Farms

  • Affiliations
    Onion Bulbing Tips April 2007

    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 gardening!

    Bruce "Onionman" Frasier

    lancelot leek 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 fork.

    Learn more

    ruler 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 them to

    From Jeanie's Kitchen
    Baked Onions

    • 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&A: Bolting

    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 time.

    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 how we produce seed.

    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.

    Onion Factoid

    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 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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