What Your Onion Leaves Tell You
Dear Fellow Gardener,
Have you counted your onion leaves today?
The size of an onion bulb is dependent upon
the number and size of green leaves at the
time of bulb maturity. For each
leaf, there will be a ring of onion; the
larger the leaf, the larger the ring will be.
The perfect onion has 13 rings, which means
that you should strive for 13 leaves if you
want the biggest onions you've ever grown.
The 9th leaf is usually the largest leaf on
the plant, and that's when the nitrogen
fertility should peak.
When the 13th leaf appears, the onion is
getting ready to start curing. This occurs at
about the same time that the rest of the
larger leaves have transferred most of their
carbohydrates to the rings, so the onion's
neck will start getting soft.
It won't need as much moisture, which
means you should stop irrigating the crop
from this point on.
So count your leaves to determine what stage
your onions are in. If you have only 9
leaves, then you'll probably get a
medium-sized onion. And remember, planting
closer or later reduces bulb size.
Bruce "Onionman" Frasier
Onion of the Month
Last year, we introduced the Red Zeppelin as
our new red storage onion. We've received
excellent feedback, and it performed
exceptionally well in most cases. Long day
storage onions generally take 15-16 hours of
day-length to trigger the bulbing process.
Red Zeppelin only takes 14 hours, which makes
it more adaptable to the southern portions of
the long day areas. This makes it work well
everywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line.
From Our Friends
Happy customer Jon sends us this missive:
"This is me with the 600+ Dixondale onions
grown and harvested at our urban
farm. We live four miles from downtown
Houston and maintain a 2,500 square foot
vegetable garden. We always look forward to
planting our Dixondale onions, which signals
the end of the year and the beginning of a
new growing season!
We love hearing from our customers. Send us
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.
Around the Farm
Making it Happen
Some people might wonder how we're able to
keep all the varieties straight and what the
average day might be like at Dixondale Farms.
Well, it all starts with the planting of the
onions, beginning in August and lasting until
February. We have 24 fields, each of which is
about 12 acres in size. We plant 30 pounds of
seed to the acre, so each field requires
around 360-400 pounds of seed.
We stagger the plantings, and plant onion
varieties according to the anticipated demand
for each variety when it's ready for harvest.
The great thing about living in Carrizo
Springs, Texas is that it doesn't rain very
often, so we're able to control the growth of
the fields with irrigation.
Each variety is packed in either a 30-bunch
cardboard box or a plastic container that's
painted a certain color and labeled to
distinguish it from other varieties. Harvest
begins at first light, and over five million
plants are usually harvested each day -- in
just a matter of hours. The plants are then
hauled in to town, and the crew at the
packing shed packs thousands of orders each
day with freshly-dug onion plants.
Cooking With Onions
- 2 large onions (yellow or white)
- 2 tablespoons of tomato juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of honey
- 1 tablespoon of butter or margarine
- 1/8 teaspoon of paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Peel the
onions, then cut them in half and place them
face-up in a baking dish. Set them aside, and
combine the other ingredients in a small
saucepan. Cook them on low heat until the
butter melts completely, then mix the
ingredients thoroughly. Pour the mixture over
the onion halves and bake the dish at 350
degrees for an hour. Serves four.
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
from our employees and from you, our customers.
We want to share one with you each month, so
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: Weed Control
Q. How can I control weeds without
damaging my onion plants?
A. Weed control is critical with
onions, so that your plants won't have to
compete with the weeds for nutrients. Your
first job is to weed your onion beds
thoroughly. Next, apply an herbicide. We've
found that pre-emergent applications of
gluten meal, which
interferes with the weed germination process,
stops the weeds cold for up to six weeks.
Rake the herbicide into the top inch of soil
before planting your onions, and then reapply
it every six weeks to keep the weeds from
A light organic mulch can also help control
weeds, while simultaneously preserving
moisture. Be sure to pull the mulch back from
the plants when they begin to bulb, however,
so that they'll cure properly.
Fun Onion Facts
Once upon a time, onions were considered just
another garden-variety vegetable in Europe.
But in the early 1700s, King Stanislaus I of
Poland made public his love of French Onion
Soup -- and the humble onion's popularity soared!
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
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
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
Time at 877-367-1015, or
e-mail us any time