| Preparing the Soil||December 2010|
Happy holidays! Can you believe it's already December?
Our thanks to all of you who completed our recent survey -- it's been very helpful in preparing us to meet the varying needs of our customers. And for anyone who's awaiting a catalog, they've just been mailed. If you haven't gotten yours yet, it should arrive in a few days.
I know that some of you already have your plants, and are doubtless beginning to prepare for the planting process. For the rest of you, your onion seedlings will soon be on their way! That being the case, for this issue, we thought we'd offer a few pointers on how to get the soil in your onion patch prepped, so your plants can get the healthiest start possible.
Row Upon Row
Onions do best when planted in raised rows measuring at least 20 inches wide by four inches high. The rows themselves should be a minimum of 12-18 inches apart. In preparing the soil, you'll need to ensure that it's well-balanced nutrient-wise, and as fertile as you can make it. A compost containing high levels of both nitrogen and phosphorous is highly recommended, especially if you're an organic gardener; you'll also have to make sure that the soil acidity isn't too high, which may require a judicious application of lime or some other alkaline material.
If you're not an organic gardener, we recommend our Onion Special (10-20-10) fertilizer. The best way to apply it is to dig a four-inch deep trench down center of the bed, and then distribute a half-cup of fertilizer per 10 linear feet. Then cover the fertilizer with two inches of soil, and plant on either side of the fertilizer strip. Don't plant directly on top of it!
Setting Your Plants Out
The best time to plant your onions is about 4-6 weeks before the estimated last freeze for your region. The soil should be unfrozen and relatively dry when you plant. Set out your plants in two lines per row, spaced four inches in from the sides of the rows, and an inch deep. You don't want to plant them deeper than that, or they might have trouble bulbing later on in the season (and you're more likely to end up with long, narrow onions).
You can plant your transplants two inches apart if you're planning to harvest green onions during the season, but otherwise you need to leave your onions plenty of room to grow. If you're going for big, prizewinning onions, you can space them even further apart than four inches!
We hope this primer answers your basic questions regarding soil preparation and the planting of your onions. If you have any other questions, click here to take a look at our online guides!
Bruce "Onionman" Frasier
| Product of the Month |
This month, we'd like to introduce you to our White Bermuda. This is a white, flat, sweet onion that's open-pollinated, and has a size potential of about three to four inches. The flavor is mild but piquant, making the White Bermuda an excellent choice for salads and sandwiches. This variety has a storage potential of two months (as if they'll last that long before you eat 'em all!) and requires just 95 days from planting to harvest. By the way, this variety is also known as the "Crystal Wax," and it's great for early green onions!
| From Our Friends|
Check out these huge Candy onions grown by our friends Floyd and Ryan Earley last season -- wow!
We love hearing from you! 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.
| Around The Farm|
We're busy shipping your onions right now, and we're quite happy with the quality of the transplants we're sending you. We think that you'll be happy, too! All of our onion varieties are currently shipping, and we'll have our leeks ready to go on January 3, 2011.
Pictured are typical 60-plant bunches of our Hybrid Southern Belle Red, white Contessa, and yellow 1015Y Texas Supersweet varieties.
|Cooking With Onions|
- 1 pound of sliced onions, separated into rings
- 1/2 cup of reduced fat shredded Cheddar cheese
- 2 egg whites
- 1 cup of buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
- 1/2 tablespoon of salt
- 1/2 tablespoon of freshly ground black pepper
- Paprika to taste
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the onion slices in a medium saucepan and add just enough water to cover them, then bring to a boil on the stove top for one minute. After draining them well, transfer the onion rings to an 8-inch baking dish sprayed with a non-stick vegetable coating.
Combine the buttermilk and cornstarch in a bowl, and stir until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. Next, add the egg whites, salt, and pepper, and mix thoroughly. Pour the mixture over the onions. Sprinkle it all with cheese and then paprika, and bake for 25 minutes. Serves 6.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Q&A: Foliar Diseases|
Q. How do I prevent onion foliar diseases? I live in an area where we get a lot of rain.
A. First of all, never water your onions from overhead; too much water on the leaves is often what triggers foliar diseases, especially those that are fungus-related. Always water at ground level.
Of course, Mother Nature almost always waters from above! Therefore, if you live in an especially rainy area, we recommend weekly applications of fungicide. Mancozeb is an excellent choice; for the purely organic gardener, Seacide is the best option.
|Fun Onion Facts|
Recent research suggests that onions may help guard against osteoporosis. Swiss scientists in Bern fed rats one gram (about 1/28 of an ounce) of dried onion per day for four weeks, and noted that the mineral content (and therefore density) of their bones increased by 17%, which is 13% better than rats that were not fed onions. It remains to be seen whether these results can be applied to humans, but they do look promising...and eating a few ounces of onion a day certainly can't hurt!
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