|Onion Planting Methods||December 2011|
Some of you may have already started planting your 2012 onions, while others won't be doing so until early next year. Even if you're not planting yet, please order early. Quantities are limited, and we want to be sure we have exactly what you're looking for.
Whether you're new to the onion-growing process or you've been growing for years, we want to help you maximize your harvest. So in this issue, we share the three most successful planting methods for the home garden. Even if you have poor soil, limited space, or very little time, there's a way for you to grow great onions!
Before You Plant
Regardless of which planting method you choose, there are preparatory steps that you must take before you put your plants in the ground.
Basics Needs. Besides plenty of water, two things are crucial for a successful onion harvest: full sun, so the onions receive the day length "trigger" that tells them to start bulbing; and crumbly, loose soil that allows for easy root movement and excellent drainage. Onions simply can't stand "wet feet." If the soil is constantly saturated, they're likely to become stunted, and the potential for disease increases sharply.
Soil pH. Onions do best with a soil pH level between 6.2 and 6.8, so make sure you check the pH before you plant. You can easily buy a chemical or electronic tester at a local garden center, or ask your local agricultural extension agent to test your soil for you. If your soil is too alkaline (above 7.0), then mix in some peat moss or coir. Ground limestone is the best amendment for acidic soils. Just be cautious about how much of any amendment you add to your soil, and be sure to test the pH again before you plant your onions.
Pre-Planting Fertilizer. Your onion plants are more likely to thrive if you fertilize the beds before you plant. For tips on doing so -- and to see how we handle it here at Dixondale Farms -- check out the following section, and take a look at this informative video on Facebook.
Top Three Planting Methods
Let's take a look at the three most common planting methods used by home gardeners, so you can determine which works best for you.
TheTraditional In-Ground Method is to create beds twenty inches wide and six high, with furrows in between for the water to flow down during irrigation. Dig a trench about four inches wide and deep down the center of each bed, then distribute fertilizer in it per the directions on the container. If you use our Onion Special (10-20-10), for example, you should use half a cup per 10 linear feet. Cover the fertilizer with at least two inches of soil, then plant a row of onions six inches to either side of the fertilizer strip.
Space the onions at least four inches apart within the rows, so you'll have good airflow between the plants. This will let the onions dry out quicker after a rain and thus decrease the likelihood of disease. Alternately, you can space them two inches apart, and then harvest every other plant after a month or so for green onions.
For more detailed instructions, see our online onion planting guide here.
Raised Beds or Structures are ideal if you have poor soils or limited space. You can buy them at most garden centers, or if you're so inclined, you can construct them at home; just be sure not to use chemically treated wood in their construction. If using our Dixondale Farms Onion Special (10-20-10) fertilizer, make a trench between each row of onions four inches deep, and distribute one-half cup of the fertilizer per 10 linear feet of row. Cover the fertilizer with about two inches of soil. Don't plant directly in the trench, but to either side of it. Space the plants four inches apart down the rows to maximize airflow, and don't space the rows themselves any closer than 8 inches apart.
Cold Frames. If you'd like your onions to mature earlier, you can grow them in a cold frame -- basically a miniature greenhouse. The onion bulbing process is triggered by warmth in addition to day length; and since the soil is warmer inside a cold frame, the onions may begin to bulb 1-2 weeks early. The benefit is that the onion will put on one more ring and increase in size by as much as an inch. However, the disadvantage to planting earlier is that the onion will have six leaves earlier in the year, and will therefore be susceptible to bolting for a longer period of time.
Whatever planting method you use, remember two things: water the plants from ground level rather than from above to decrease the likelihood of disease, and regularly spray them with fungicides for the same reason. With a little TLC, you'll end up with a healthy onion harvest that will keep you happy for weeks or months to come.
Bruce "Onionman" Frasier
After Planting Growing Aids
This month, we feature two of our fine fertilizers for use after planting, both of which are ideal for maximizing the success and size of your crop.
Ammonium Sulfate Fertilizer 21-0-0: Once your onion plants have gotten established, you'll need to feed them with a good source of nitrogen to maximize growth and bulbing potential. This product is exactly what onions need to generate more foliage and, therefore, more rings and larger bulbs. Our Ammonium Sulfate is actually good stuff for all vegetables, so don't hesitate to buy in bulk. We'll sweeten the pot with some savings: for a limited time, if you buy any combination of bagged fertilizer, you can save $3.00 per bag.
We've prepared a handy Facebook video that explains how to apply our Ammonium Sulfate fertilizer. Take a look!
OmegaGrow: This exclusive, all-organic foliar feed has everything your onions need to grow big and strong. Active ingredients include ammoniacal nitrogen, water soluble nitrogen, phosphate, and soluble potash. OmegaGrow provides a rich source of nutrients that slowly break down and release nitrogen into the soil, continually supporting root growth, top development, and yield, but never harming the environment.
|From Our Friends|
Texan Melvin Glenn, Jr. has an amazing fish story to tell, with photographic evidence to back it up! Here's what he has to say:
"You like to hear from people? I'm sending a picture of a fish I caught in the Llano River on my rod and reel. What has this got to do with onions? Well, your onions are the biggest and best and sweetest I have ever seen, but it did not rain this year, and the city would not let us water. So I went fishing and caught this fish. We ate the onions with the fish, though. They were both good."
Got some onion-related photos to share? Send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and you just might see your photo in a future newsletter!
| Around The Farm|Holiday Shipping Schedule
Happy Holidays, everyone! Hopefully you have your catalog by now, and will be ordering soon -- if you haven't already! FYI, our planned holiday shipping schedule is December 12 and December 19.
We may also ship during the week of December 26; please call us at 877-377-1015 to see if shipments are possible for your area. Shipping will begin again during the week of January 9, 2012, and continue until we're out of stock.
|Cooking With Onions|
- 2 large onions, sliced (Ringmasters are great in this recipe!)
- 1/2 stick of butter
- 1 can of cream of chicken soup
- 8 oz. of shredded Swiss cheese
- 1-1/2 tablespoon of soy or Worcestershire sauce
- 1/3 cup of milk
- Sliced French bread, buttered one side
Sauté onion in butter until opaque, then place in bottom of a 13 x 9-inch cake pan. Cook soup, milk, cheese, and sauce together until blended, then pour over the onions. Place the bread buttered side up on top, and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.
This recipe comes to us from customer Maria Lichter, who tells us, "It's excellent with holiday meals!"
Onions can enhance so many dishes, and can be consumed raw, fried, sautéed or baked. Please share your favorite onion recipe, so we can include it in an upcoming newsletter. You can email it to us here, or post it on our new Friday Recipe Corner on Facebook. Digital photos of your dish are also welcome!
Q&A: What Type of Onions Should I Order?
Q. How do I know which plants to order for my area: long, short, or intermediate?
A. Simple enough: just visit our day-length map of the U.S.A. Plus, we've just posted a nice YouTube video of Bruce explaining in more detail how to select the right onions for your area, so please take a look!
|Fun Onion Facts|
The National Onion Association has developed a size classification scale for onions. While it's mostly for commercial growers, it's a handy way of seeing how your garden jewels compare to expectations. Here's how they rank by diameter, from smallest to largest:
Creamer: Under one inch
Boiler: 1 to 1-7/8 inches
Small: 1 to 2-1/4 inches
Pre-Pack: 1-3/4 to 3 inches
Medium: 2 to 3-1/4 inches
Large/Jumbo: 3 inches and up
Colossal: 3-3/4 inches and up
Super Colossal: 4-1/2 inches and up
How do your onions stack up?
All Your Questions Answered
We have answers to your frequently asked questions! Just click here for information on when to order your onions, as well as for tips on planting, caring, feeding, harvesting, and storing them.
|We're on Facebook! |
Join the community of friends and growers on our 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.
We've been posting videos at Facebook, too. Be sure to take a look at our two fertilizer demonstrations: first, how we fertilize our onion beds before planting, and second, how to apply our Ammonium Sulfate fertilizer after planting.
Speaking of videos, we also recently prepared a YouTube video demonstrating how we control weeds when we plant our onions. We hope you'll enjoy it, and take away a few tips to help with your own weed control efforts.
By the way, don't forget to share your onion recipes with us here -- and be sure to regularly check the posts from your fellow onion growers, to find some new recipes to try!