|10 Tips to Ensure a Great Onion Crop||February 2011|
We hope you're keeping warm, and otherwise handling these cold weather conditions all right!
As the 2011 onion growing season gets into full swing, we want to help you be as successful as possible. So here are some tips to keep in mind, going forward.
1. Plant the right variety of onions at the right time of year for your area, and buy only from reputable producers that send true varieties.
2. When your plants arrive, remove them from the box and place them in a well-ventilated, cool area until you can plant them. Keep the plants dry until then, and do not put them in soil or water.
3. Choose a location with full sun and good drainage for planting your onions.
4. Apply a pre-emergent herbicide to control weeds in your onion patch. Prepare your onion beds early, so a few crops of weeds can be flushed and tilled under prior to planting. Later, apply a post-emergent herbicide or control weeds by hand.
5. Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer before planting, and with a good source of nitrogen every three weeks until the onions start to bulb.
6. Water your plants thoroughly and immediately after planting. Use the knuckle rule to determine when to water during the season. If you can feel moisture when you stick your finger in the ground up to your first knuckle, then the onions are wet enough. Use drip or furrow irrigation rather than an overhead sprinkler system, which may promote the spread of disease.
7. Keep a close eye on the weather, especially early in the season. When you discover that a frost or freeze is coming, water the onions in very well and put down mulching or straw to help protect them. If it gets really cold, you may want to spread burlap over the onions as insulation.
8. Spray weekly with a protective fungicide to prevent foliar diseases and rotting during storage. You won't notice there's a problem with the disease until it's too late and they start rotting after harvest.
9. At harvest time, lift the onions out of the ground and put the top of one onion over the bulb of another. Let them dry for three days in the field, and allow the tops to completely dry down before clipping them.
10. Store the harvested onions in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location. Place them in mesh bags or netting to permit air flow all around the onions, and to prevent one rotten onion from touching the others.
If you'll follow these tips, you'll most likely end up with an excellent crop of onions that will last well in storage. Enjoy!
Bruce "Onionman" Frasier
| Product of the Month |
We've been getting a lot of questions about our fertilizer lately, so we thought we'd cover it again in this issue. We offer two basic fertilizers: organic and chemical. Our OMRI-certified organic fertilizer, OmegaGrow, is an excellent foliar feed for onions that's guaranteed not to harm the environment. It's easy to apply: you just spray it directly on your plants.
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. Never plant directly on top of it!
For a video demonstration of how to use the Onion Special fertilizer in your onion beds, click here
. Apologies for the static from the wind. We think you will find it helpful nonetheless. For a better understanding of why fertilizer is necessary, watch this video
Announcing the 2011 Dixondale Farms Photo Contest! We'd love to see pictures of you and your onions that we can use in this newsletter, online, and in our catalog, so please send them along.
Here are the particulars:
- The contest will run from June to September 2011, and you may submit one photo per month.
- All onions displayed must be grown during the November 2010- August 2011 season.
- One winner will be chosen each month.
- Each month's winner will receive a Dixondale cap and a Dixondale camo T-shirt (modeled in the picture above), and will be featured in the next month's newsletter as well as on our Facebook page and Web site.
- A Grand Prize winner will be chosen from the past monthly winners to grace the cover of the 2012 Dixondale Farms Catalog, and we'll feature a bio in the November 2011 newsletter and on our Web site and Facebook page.
- The Grand Prize judging will be held in-house, with Dixondale holding all rights to the pictures.
To send us your contest photos, just click here. We can't wait to see 'em!
| Around The Farm|Safe and Sound
If you've been concerned about how our onion crop handled the recent freeze here in South Texas, worry no more! We took some careful precautions early on, so we came through safe and sound, with no damage at all. If you haven't ordered your onions yet, don't fret, because there's no danger of any new shortages. Barring any unseen occurrences, your plants will be in your mailbox on the date you requested.
Since people have been asking about the status of the crop, here's a brief video
showing the fields of plants we're harvesting now. You can see that there's not any damage, for which we are very thankful!
|Cooking With Onions|
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 cup of Vidalia onion juice (1 large onion, run through a juicer)
- 2 cups of dry red wine
- 1½ cup of red wine vinegar
- 6 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
- 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of sea salt (or fleur de sel, "flower of salt," if you can get it)
- A pinch of cayenne pepper
- 2 medium Vidalia onions, cut lengthwise into eight wedges and separated into petals
Stir the sugar and onion juice in a large saucepan until the sugar is evenly wet, then cook the mixture over medium heat to 360 degrees, until it's medium golden in color. It should smell like toasted onions.
Immediately remove the pan from the heat and slowly add the wine. Be aware that the hot syrup will sputter and pop, but don't let this deter you; it will soon quiet down. Cook the mix on medium-high heat until the syrup completely dissolves into the wine. Add the rest of the ingredients, then adjust the heat to maintain a light simmer and cook the syrup until it reduces and thickens to the consistency of maple syrup. This can take up to 45 minutes.
Allow the syrup to cool slightly before use, leaving in the onion pieces. You can store the syrup in your refrigerator for up to one month. To serve, sauté some onions and mushrooms until browned, then stir them into the syrup mixture and warm them through. Serve over steaks or duck breasts by putting some of the onions on top, and then drizzling them with some of the syrup.
Chef Chip Desormeaux
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: Cold Weather Damage
Q. How do I know if my onion plants have suffered damage from the cold weather?
A. An onion plant has a certain amount of carbohydrates stored up in the bulb. During extreme cold weather, if the plant is able to generate more carbohydrates before it uses up all the carbs it has stored away, then it will live. It usually takes 7-10 days after it warms up before you'll know for sure. If the top turns white and then completely falls over, then the plant isn't going to make it.
Watering right before a freeze is usually helpful, since the moist dirt around the bulb tends to insulate it somewhat. Freezes generally cause the ground to dry out significantly, so watering right after a freeze is beneficial as well. After about a week, you can examine one of the plants to see if there's a new leaf starting to form in the center of the bulb. If there is, that means the plant will live.
|Fun Onion Facts|
We haven't tried it yet, but there's a rumor going around that if you chew gum while cutting and peeling onions, you won't cry. If you give it a try, let us know how it works!
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