Common Questions Answered
Dear Fellow Gardener,
It may seem difficult to believe, but it's already time to plan for your 2011 plantings. Depending on where you live and what you plan to grow, in fact, it may not be long before it's time to get your onion plants in the ground.
We want to help you make the best decisions for your needs. Your 2011 catalog will soon be on its way, and of course you can always look to our Web site for more information.
Furthermore, over the years we've noted that customers tend to ask the same questions frequently -- pertinent ones about purchasing, shipping, storing and, of course, planting and harvesting their onions. So in this issue, we'd like to share our answers to those questions, to help you better plan for your 2011 onion crops.
When to Order
When should I order my plants? You can order your onion plants whenever you like, and we'll ship at your requested date.
If you're ordering from our catalog, your customer number is located on the back cover, above or beside your name on the mailing label. Payment is required when your order is placed, so that your plants will be reserved for you to ship on the day you requested.
If I can't plant when I receive my plants, how do I store them? When you receive your plants, immediately take them out of the box and spread them out in a cool, dry area. DO NOT PUT THEM IN WATER OR SOIL while waiting to plant. The plants are in a dormant state, and should be planted as soon as possible. The roots and tops may begin to dry out, but don't be alarmed: as a member of the lily family, the onion can live for three weeks off of the bulb.
When should I plant? The recommended planting time is 4-6 weeks before your last average frost date.
Onion Plant Care
Should I water the onions when I first plant them? Yes, the transplants should be watered immediately after being planted. They won't grow new roots unless the soil is loose and moist, so it's important to maintain adequate moisture. Avoid overhead irrigation, which encourages foliage diseases.
How often should I fertilize? The first application should be three weeks after planting; then repeat the process every 2-3 weeks. Stop fertilizing when the onions start to bulb, which is about three weeks before harvest.
Should I pull the dirt back from the onion when it starts to bulb? The bulbing process is gradual, and there's no reason to pull dirt away as long as you keep the soil loose. In fact, pulling the dirt away can cause sunscalding (sunburn) of the onion skin. Remember that the bulbing process requires more moisture in any case; and if you increase watering, the soil should remain loose.
Harvesting and Storage
How do I know when my onions are ready for harvest? An onion is fully mature when the top falls over. Bending the top over will only stop the bulbing process, so don't be too eager to harvest. You don't have to wait until all the tops fall completely over to harvest, but harvesting early may cause the onion to sprout during storage, since it hasn't finished the bulbing process.
How do I harvest? Once the tops have fallen over, pull the onions out of the ground and let them dry in the garden for a few days. It's a good idea to cover the bulb of one onion with the top of another to prevent sunscald. When you remove the onions from the field, clip the roots at the base and clip the tops as well, but leave 3/4-inch of the neck to seal and protect the interior from decay. Discard any decaying onions. Never let a single decayed onion touch another, since the decaying process will spread.
Any tips for storage? Store your onions in a cool, dry place. Sweet onions store for a maximum of three months, but storage types will last throughout the winter. The best way to store them is in mesh nettings or pantyhose, hung in a well-ventilated area.
We hope you've found these FAQs helpful! If you have any questions we didn't cover here, don't hesitate to contact us.
Thanks, and happy growing!
Bruce "Onionman" Frasier
Tip of the Month
Reserve Your Plants Early
We recommend that you order early to reserve your plants, so you can be sure to receive the onions you want. We've already started shipping to a few areas. All our short day varieties will ship in November, with the intermediate day varieties going out on or about November 29. Lancelot Leeks and long day varieties are expected to ship on January 3, 2011.
Please Take Our Survey!
We recently sent out a survey invitation by email. If you haven't already, we'd appreciate it if you could click on this link and take our survey now. It only takes a few minutes.
The purpose of the survey is to provide the most relevant information possible to as many of our customers as possible. Considering how much planting times, harvesting times, and successful varieties can vary from one part of the country to another, that's often a challenge. So we're investigating ways to segment our email list to provide our customers with more helpful information. Here are some of the ways we're thinking of doing that:
- We know we've had an influx of new gardeners over the past couple of years. If we can identify who they are, we might provide them with information that will help them be more successful -- information that would be too basic for many of you.
- There are sometimes regional weather or disease problems. If we know which customers are in these areas, we may be able to provide them with helpful solutions.
- A significant percentage of our customers sell their onions at farmers' markets. By identifying who they are, we may be able to provide them with marketing aids to help them grow their business.
If you have any additional suggestions for how we might serve you better, please share them with us. In the meantime, thanks for taking our survey. Your feedback is very valuable to us.
From Our Friends
Here's a photo from the Hageman Farm in Leonardville, Kansas. Rich Hageman is standing behind the Candy and Sterling Crop that the family grew this year. Great onions!!!
We love hearing from you! 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
Every once in a while, we like to profile and hear from the folks in the office who keep everything running so smoothly. Here are the ladies in question!
Front Row: Bethany Jimenez and Pam Martin
Back Row: Gabby Herrera, Laura Krause and Mary McKaskle
Bethany Jimenez is starting her first year here at Dixondale Farms. "Since working here, I've been learning a lot about onions, and I think this coming season has great things in store! I look forward to this onion season, and getting to work with you, the customer!"
Pam Martin married into the family in 1967, and has worked for the company going on 20 years now. "After this season I'll semi-retire," she says, "and will be working part time during the busy season. I enjoy talking to all our customers, and hearing how their onion crops grew!"
Gabby Herrera is excited to start her second year with Dixondale Farms. "I'm waiting to see what's in store for us! I wish all our customers great success and a great season."
Laura Krause is starting her third season with Dixondale Farms. "We had a busy season last year," says Laura. "I'm looking forward to working with our customers again this year."
Mary McKaskle is going into eight years here at Dixondale Farms. Mary says, "I always look forward to talking and working with our customers and meeting new ones. I wish everyone a great season of gardening!"
We also have some exciting news! We've been working hard on the 2011 catalog, and it's scheduled to ship in mid to late November. Also, our website is being updated, and the changes are expected to go live ASAP.
Cooking With Onions
Cheesy Onion Biscuits
- 1/4 cup of chopped onions
- 3/4 cup of all-purpose flour
- 1/8 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon of salt
- 1 tablespoon of shortening
- 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/3 cup of 1% buttermilk (plain yogurt may be substituted)
Microwave the onions on high until tender -- about 1-2 minutes. Then combine the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a small bowl, and add the shortening until the mixture takes on a coarse, crumbly consistency. Stir in the onions and the cheese, and enough of the buttermilk or yogurt to just moisten the mix. Knead the resulting dough on a lightly-floured surface 8-10 times, and cut it into four pieces. Place them at least two inches apart on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, and bake for 8-12 minutes at 450 degrees or until they turn golden brown. 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'll share a sumptuous onion recipe with you each month, so that
you can take full advantage of the fruits of your labor!
Fun Onion Facts
Onion juice makes an effective natural insecticide against sucking insects that attack plants, such as aphids or thrips, especially when mixed with garlic juice. It's the presence of sulfuric compounds (the same stuff that makes you cry when you cut an onion) that drives the insects away. While fresh onions work best for this purpose, this is also an excellent option for old onions or fragments that don't get used for one reason or another. Rather than toss them on the compost heap, make them into insecticide!
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. 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 U.S., 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 Standard Time at 877-367-1015, or e-mail us any time at email@example.com.
Dixondale Farms is on Facebook!
Join the community of friends and growers on our brand new Facebook page! You can connect with us and fellow growers to share stories, recipes, and even weather information and other tips. We encourage you to add your pictures and growing stories, and to leave something on our Wall.