In this issue...
  • Onion of the Month
  • From Our Friends
  • Around the Farm
  • Cooking With Onions
  • Q&A: Preparing the Soil
  • Fun Onion Facts
  • Send Us Your Product Reviews!
  • About Dixondale Farms

  • Affiliations
    Protecting Your Onions in Cold Weather February 2009

    Bruce & Wife Dear Fellow Gardener,

    It's February, and it's cold out there -- even in South Texas! But before I get into that, I want to thank you for your overwhelming response to our recent survey. We received thousands of replies, and we responded to over 3,000 questions and comments! We greatly appreciate the input, and you can bet we'll be using the information to make changes and improvements that will enhance your onion growing experience.

    Now for the cold weather: for some of you, temperatures have plummeted, and won't be going up for some time. Now, as much as we plan, sometimes inclement weather takes us by surprise. We want you to be able to protect your onion plants in the event of unexpected
    freezing temperatures.

    Onions are hardy to 20 degrees, and it usually takes single digit temperatures to kill them. If it's that cold and you've just received your onions, don't fret. If the weather prohibits you from planting right away, spread your plants 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 snap, protect your plants by covering them with any of these materials to a depth of about two inches:

    • Mulching bark
    • Straw
    • Sawdust
    • Peat moss
    • Leaves
    • Grass clippings
    • Pine needles

    Even if covering your plants raises the temperature just a few degrees, it can make a big difference. Make sure the covering goes all the way around, but doesn't push on the plants. When it rains, or once the temperature goes over 20 degrees, remove the cover.

    Moist soil retains heat better than dry, so if a freeze is predicted, water the plants lightly the morning before the predicted freeze. However, you don't want the plants to be wet going into the evening. If there's light snow around the plants, leave it, as it helps to insulate them; if the snow is heavy or wet, gently remove it from the area.

    If you're ever unsure as to whether your plants are being properly protected, feel free to call us, or consult your county extension agent.

    Stay warm,

    Bruce "Onionman" Frasier

    red candy apple Onion of the Month
    Introducing Red Candy Apple!

    A couple of years ago, an onion breeder and I discussed why we couldn't develop a red onion that's similar to our most popular onion, Candy. The Stockton Red just wasn't as consistent as we liked. So we went to work using the Stockton Red's breeding stock, and crossed it with other onions to improve its taste, color, size, and storage ability. What we've come up with is the Red Candy Apple, and we're excited about getting feedback from our loyal customers this coming year. We're impressed with the trials, but I must admit that we only planted it in New Mexico while we were developing it.

    An intermediate-day exclusive from Dixondale Farms, we predict that Red Candy Apple is going to be very popular with restaurants, customers at farmer's markets, and your family!

    Learn More

    from customers From Our Friends

    South Dakota's Dave Ehlers sends us this inspiring message:

    "Here are Denise, Dillon and Rachel, posing with just part of our 2008 onion crop! Last year we planted the Ailsa Craig yellow, and the Mars red. We're always the envy of the town, with the size of the onions we grow; people stop by just to look at the size, and can't believe they can grow here.

    "We've been purchasing Dixondale onion plants for several years now, and have never been disappointed. In the part of South Dakota we live in, the weather can violently change on us; in the spring it can be sunny and 70 degrees one day, and snowing the next. The summers can be brutally hot, and drought is common. Your onions have never failed us: seriously, they have withstood snow, hail, high winds, drought, and near-freezing temperatures, and we always get a crop we can use. My wife cans the best salsa in town using your onions, and our neighbors love it when they see our kids carrying jars to share with them.

    "Where we live, spring seems to start a bit sooner than the rest of the state, so I like my onions in the ground sooner. Dixondale always accommodates me by sending them when I want them, and not just because our area says we need them by the specified time.

    "Thanks, guys, for choosing to specialize in one thing, and doing it better than anyone else!"

    We love hearing from our customers. Send us your favorite "onion photo" and we'll try to include it in a future newsletter, our next catalog or our online Photo Album. Click here for details on how to submit your photos.

    lupinemorning Around the Farm
    Exceptional Employees

    Duda, the largest farming operation in the United States, opened an onion-packing operation in our hometown a few years ago. At the time Darrell Duda, a close friend of mine, said he was concerned about the availability of labor. He told me, "I've been told that there's not that much labor available -- and all the good people work for you." I considered that a great compliment!

    Pictured here is one of those great people, Lupe Contreras. Lupe's been working for us over 30 years, and last year she came down with breast cancer. We're happy to say that she's now doing great, and is back at work. There's no one who comes close to Lupe when it comes to how fast she can bunch onions! We kid that she has a bundle in the air at all times. We're happy to have Lupe healthy, and to have her sweet smile and contagious laugh greet us each morning.

    Oh, and by the way: Duda closed their plant last year -- because they couldn't find enough good labor!

    Cooking With Onions
    Leek Casserole Milanese

    • 5-6 large leeks (about a pound and a half)
    • 1/2 cup of oyster or button mushrooms
    • 2 teaspoons of oil
    • 1/2 cup of dry white wine
    • 3/4 cup of whipping cream
    • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
    • A dash of nutmeg
    • 1/4 cup of fresh bread crumbs
    • 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, shredded

    Rinse the leeks thoroughly in cold water, then cut them diagonally into quarter-inch slices. This should result in about three cups of leeks. Set them aside, and then slice your mushrooms.

    Next, add the oil to a large skillet, and cook the mushrooms for 3-5 minutes over medium heat until they're tender. Carefully pour in the wine, and cook the mixture until it starts to boil. At that point, immediately reduce the heat, and continue cooking until most of the wine has evaporated. Then add the cream and the spices and return the mixture to a boil. Let it cook for three minutes, stirring occasionally.

    Once the mushroom mixture has thickened slightly, add the leeks. Mix thoroughly, and transfer the mixture to a one-quart casserole dish. Top it all with the bread crumbs and shredded cheese, and bake it at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. You'll know it's done when the topping turns golden-brown. Serves six.

    Onions can enhance so many dishes, from simple salads to complex entrees; and they can also be consumed raw, fried, sautéed or baked. We periodically receive sumptuous recipe suggestions from our employees and from you, our customers. We want to share one with you each month, so that you can take full advantage of the fruits of your labor! If you have one you would like us to print, please email it to us at

    Q&A: Preparing the Soil

    Q. How do I prepare the soil before planting my onions?

    A. The best way to grow onions is in direct sunlight, on broad beds four inches high and 20 inches wide. The spacing from the center of one row to the center of the next should be a full 36 inches.

    As for the soil itself, you'll do best if you layer a band of phosphorous-rich fertilizer 2-3 inches below your onions at planting time. Here's how to do it: dig a narrow, four-inch deep trench in the center of the row, then pour in 1/2 cup of fertilizer per 10 linear feet of trench. Next, cover the fertilizer with two inches of soil, and plant your onion sets in two rows, six inches to either side of the trench. Never plant onions in the fertilizer trench!

    Fun Onion Facts

    The humble onion is the state vegetable of four of these United States. In Georgia, it's the Vidalia. The official favorite of our home state is the Texas Sweet. Utah serves up the Spanish Sweet Onion, while Washington State prefers the Walla Walla. Delicious, every one!

    Send Us Your Product Reviews!

    In addition to sending us recipes and photos of your onions, we encourage you to give us feedback on our products via the Product Review options on the Web site. You'll find a "write your own review" link on every product page. Don't be shy -- we need your opinions!

    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 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Central Time at 877-367-1015, or e-mail us any time at

    phone: 877-367-1015
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