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Easy to grow and a tasty crop of onions

Growing Red, White and Yellow Onions

The Allium family is where the Onion comes from along with its cousins the leeks, shallots, garlic, chives bunching onions, and scallions. The onion family is known for its pungent fragrance, medicinal properties, and ability to deter garden insect pest. The onion plant is native to many countries around the world, but is believed to have originated in Central Asia. It is known that onions have been grown for over 5000 years. In ancient Egypt, pharaohs were buried with onions as a symbol of eternity. Traces of Onions were found in Bronze Age settlements dating back 5000 B.C. Egypt consumed onions around 3500 B.C. Other civilizations such as China, India, Greece, and Rome also grew, used, and ate onions. By the middle ages Onions were a stable in the European diet. Christopher Columbus introduced onions to North America on his 1492 expedition to Hispaniola. The early Pilgrims, who followed, found that there were wild onions already growing in the new world by the Native American Indians for a variety of ways from food to medicine.

The U.S. farmer grows 125,000 acres of onions each and every year and produces about 6.2 "Billion Pounds" a year. The top 4 states that grow onions are Washington State, Idaho-Eastern Oregon, California, and Georgia. These four states grow a total acreage of over 85 thousand acres under cultivation and produce over 3,780,500,000 pounds of onions yearly, and the crop value is $5 to 7 BILLION dollars at the consumer value. Approximately 170 countries grow onions for their own consumption on an estimated 9.2 million acres of farm land and produce 3.2 billion 50 pound bags of onions. Onions are imported and exported all over the world every year. The average American eats over 20 pounds of onions yearly in all types of food, cooked or raw. After all what would a Hot dogs or Hamburger taste without onions of some type on them?

Here are 6 fun facts about Onions:

1} What compound in onions brings tears to our eyes? Sulfuric compounds. To cut down on crying when cutting onions, keep the onions chilled before cutting, and cut the onion from the top to the root end last.

2} What are the three colors of onions sold in most grocery stores in order? Yellow, red, and white onions.

3} According to the Guinness Book of World Records, how much did the biggest onion ever grow to weight? 10 pounds 14 ounces from Silsden, England

4} What should you eat to get rid of Onion Breath? Parsley

5} What cocktail is traditionally garnished with an onion? The Gibson

6} New York City is known as the Big Apple. Before having this nickname, it was known by what nickname? The Big Onion, because it was a place from which you could peel off layer after layer without ever reaching the core.

Now how do you grow the best Onions in your garden? Begin by selecting a full sun location all day and a soil that is well drained and full of organic matter such as Animal manure, compost, peat moss, and soil conditioners such as Seaweed, a winter crop of Winter Rye, Buckwheat, or clover that you will till into the soil before planting. If your soil is heavy and has clay, add Garden Gypsum spring and fall to break up the clay particles and open up the pores in the garden soil. You can also add in the row where you plant, some play box sand and till with existing soil to break up the clay. If water tends to accumulate try planting in raised beds to improve drainage.

The best onion is planted while the weather is still cool about 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost as Onions love a cool weather to get established. Set your plants 6 inches apart and "ONE INCH DEEP." All Onions do not tolerate weeds growing around them so mulch around the plants with straw, compost one inch thick or keep pulling the weeds as they develop. As the Onion grows it will develop "out of the ground" not covered with soil to the green foliage. Choose varieties for your area, northern, and southern varieties are available depending where you live. Fertilize with a liquid fertilizer such as Blooming and Rooting fertilizer every 2 weeks or a good time release pellet fertilizer such as Dynamite a 9 month slow release plant food.

If you're growing your own Onions from seed start in late January or early February indoors. When the foliage grows to 3 inches cut the plant in half and use the greens in salads, as this pruning will encourage a bulb to begin to form on the plant, and repeat again as the plant continues to grow. Some nurseries sell seedling flats all started for you or you can purchase a bundle of 100 plants tied up and kept in peat moss to prevent drying out. Bonnie Plants found at nurseries and Box stores will have these starter plant bunches available early in the season for planting. When you plant, dig a trench 2 inches deep after you have tilled the soil to loosen it, add some Soil Moist moisture retention pellets to the trench like you salt your vegetables on your plate, lightly. This will help keep moisture available around your plants without being wet even during the heat and dryness of summer. I have found that seedlings will produce larger onions than planting small onion bulbs that come in a mesh bag. These bulbs were greenhouse grown, harvested, and treated to prevent growth while in storage and this slows down the plant growth. If you don't believe me try planting one row of bulbs and one row of seedlings, you will be surprised.

Onions have few insect and disease problems and usually help discourage insects around other plants. Onions are ready to harvest when the foliage begins to fall over and turn brown. If a plant begins to produce flowers, pick it and use it up as it is having problems and will go to seed and loose its taste. When you harvest the onions, pick your onions out of the garden by digging them, keeping the top, and roots intact. Store in a shady place for 14 days until cured, and then remove the foliage by clipping it to 1 inch from the bulb and clip off the roots. Store in a cool place 55 to 60 degrees to keep all winter long, such as your basement but not in an unheated garage or tool shed as they will freeze and rot.

Many years ago my Dad grew from seed, Alisa Craig onions developed in England along with red, white, and yellow onions. This unique Onion will grow to 5 pounds or more and makes a fun onion to bring to your gardening friends or neighbors, bragging rights. They are not winter keepers but make great grilled onions, onion soup, or sliced onions for the family cookout, bigger than the hamburger roll and nice a sweet. You can cut them up and freeze to use later when you make spaghetti sauce from scratch or onion soup.

Did you know that onions help aid you in sleep; they are an appetite suppression, help to improve your mood positively. They have as much vitamin C as orange juice; contain folate, a great source of fiber and taste great raw or cooked. Remember the average person eats 20 pound a year so why not grow your own? Enjoy!

Green Onions - Booker T & the MG's
Green Onions - Booker T & the MG's

Grow your own Asparagus, it easy!

Asparagus has been cultivated on the western coast of Europe, Northern Spain to Ireland, Great Britain, and Northwest Germany where it has grown as a native perennial vegetable for centuries. It is also found in parts of Asia and North Africa. It was introduced to the U.S. in the mid 1800's. Egyptian pictures found dating back to 3000 BC show this vegetable as an offering. The Greeks and Romans ate this vegetable when it was fresh in season, and dried it for use during the winter months. The Romans were the original "Bird's Eye frozen food company as they harvested fresh Asparagus and carried it high up the Alps mountains so they could have some to celebrate the feast of Epicurus. Emperor Augustus created the "Asparagus Fleet" for hauling the vegetable to be frozen in the Alps, how about that! Ancient Greek physicians mentioned asparagus as a beneficial herb and it lasted until the fall of the Roman Empire. In 1469 asparagus was being grow in French monasteries, 1538 the English discovered this plant as the first vegetable of spring and in Germany it took until 1542. The French discovered the wonderful texture of this plant and the strongest and yet the most delicate taste is in the tips. Asparagus was known as the "Points D'amour," "Love Tips" it was served as a delicacy to Madame de Pompadour.

Stem thickness indicates the age of the plant, with the thicker stems coming from the more mature plants. Asparagus has both male and female plants and this is determined by its flowers on the foliage during the late summer. Male plants tend to produce thicker stems but female stems are more tender and tasty. Look for small BB size ball of seed pods in the fall to determine what sex your plants. You can also purchase only male plants if you desire, only thick stems but most of us prefer a mixture of both male and female plants to help produce seed to continue creating new plants for the future. By the way if you have both types expect to have a healthy crop for over 25 years from your planting.

China is now the number one producer of Asparagus with 7,350,000 tons a year, followed by Peru with 376,645 tons and then the U.S. with 174, 609 tons a year. California, Michigan, and Washington State are the top producers for the U.S. One last thing Asparagus is an incredible salt-tolerant plant and Early Greeks and Romans used salt to control weeds, but these soils could only grow Asparagus once the salt was applied. Today I suggest that you use Compost, straw, Pine needles, or Seaweed from the beach to control weeds.

When you plan out your vegetable garden this spring, maybe this is the year for you to reserve space in your vegetable garden for permanent vegetables such as asparagus. Asparagus, horseradish, rhubarb, and all your berry plants are there for you year after year without replanting, saving you time in the early spring. And as the crops grow and mature, they are able to produce more vegetables and fruit each year. Let me tell you about asparagus first, and then you can decide if you want to invest time and space in your garden to grow this "succulent" vegetable.

Asparagus is the most expensive vegetable on the market today, in season at $3.00 a pound and out of season at $6 to $7 a pound. Asparagus is not a difficult plant to grow in your garden; it's not fussy where it grows--all you need to provide is a sunny location in the garden, a bit of water and fertilizer, and then keep out the weeds. I consider tomatoes and cucumbers a staple in my vegetable garden but asparagus is the main course. Also, when the harvesting season is over, the asparagus plant will provide you with beautiful fern like foliage to use in your flower arrangements all summer long.

Begin by selecting a location with full sun all day long, and remember that the foliage will get tall--up to 6 feet--so the location should be in the back or end of the garden, so as not to create shade on the other vegetables. Your soil should be well drained, but the plant will tolerate water in the early spring as long as it does not sit there for long periods. If possible, keep out of heavy winds, as the plant does grow tall and you do not want the foliage to blow over. If you can't keep it out of winds, create a wire brace around the planting rows about 4 feet tall.

The soil in the garden should be neutral to sweet, never on the acidic side, so add lime, wood ash, or Turf-Turbo or Lightning lime to keep soil from getting acidic every year; a pH of 6 to 7.5 is best. In the fall, clean the bed and add chicken or cow manure over the planting bed to help feed the plants during the winter and to prepare them for spring production. Once you clean the bed of all the dead foliage in the fall you can also add a couple inches of your compost over the bed and work it into the top 3 to 5 inches of soil. This will help to germinate some of the seed that fell from the foliage during the fall and start new plants to thicken the asparagus bed for next year.

Start by digging a trench 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide. Back-fill the bottom 4 inches with soil that you conditioned with compost and animal manure, and firm it in place by walking in the trench. With your conditioned soil, make small mounds of soil about 4 inches high and wide. Space these mounds of soil on 12 inch centers in the center of the trench. Your asparagus roots will look like an octopus, with a central crown that contains buds on top, and roots below it that look like spaghetti. Place the crown on the top of the mound and spread out the roots evenly cascading down the mound of soil.

Add compost between each plant and cover the roots with soil, partially filling the trench. You want 2 inches of conditioned soil on top of the roots, leaving you 2 to 3 inches of the trench not filled. As the plants begin to grow, slowly fill in the trench to the level of the garden. This makes it easier for the new shoots to develop and poke through the soil. The asparagus roots you will be planting will be dormant and dry, so soak them in Compost Tea for an half an hour before planting, and dump the left over tea in the trench when planting. For the first time you can purchase compost tea at your local garden center. You can buy asparagus roots from one to three years old from your garden center. The older the roots are, the better for a faster producing crop. Water often when young and keep the soil moist at all times but not wet. Plants will need 1 inch of water a week all summer long for the first couple of years to help establish them in your garden. Once established, they are on their own.

If you want to keep the weeds out of the bed, cover the soil with 2 inches of compost, pine needles, shredded leaves, straw, or peat moss. Stay away from bark mulch, because of acidity. Place over established beds early in the spring before the new shoots poke through the ground. When weeding in the bed, never use tools; always use your hand, so as not to damage shoots still growing in the ground.

Male plants will have bigger and thicker stems; most people like this and that is why they purchase only male plants. I like all sizes so I go for more mature roots. Once you plant, you pick nothing the first year and the second year from the garden; just let the plants get established in the garden. Year 3, pick for 3 weeks, year 4 pick for 4 weeks, and year 5 on you can pick for 6 weeks. During the picking season, allow some of the spears that form to grow and produce foliage; this will help the plant get energy from the foliage that forms. If you wondering how many plant to plant in the garden, a rule of thumb is 5 roots per person in your family, or double that if you want to freeze them for the winter. Five people equals 25 roots.

Keep the onion family of plants away from asparagus beds. Onions, leeks, garlic, and chives will hurt your plantings, but tomatoes, parsley, and basil are good companions. The main insect on asparagus is beetles and they can be easily controlled with Garden Eight from Bonide. Give the asparagus room in your garden--that means a three foot wide area for them to grow in with a walkway on each side. Finally, asparagus beds will last in your garden for about 25 years so it is worth the initial effort when planting the first year. The better you prepare the soil, the better and longer the plant will produce for you!

Asparagus Varieties: 

Mary Washington: The most widely asparagus grown in the U.S. medium to high producer, small and large spears

Purple Pacific: Moderate yield of purple spears with a sweet flavor, small to large spears

Eros: mid- season variety and will grow in heave clay type soils, medium yields of large sprouts

GiJnlim: Early producer and very high yield of medium size spears, excellent quality

Millennium: Late maturing and great for extending the season into July or later. Great for cool climate or warm climates

Jersey Giant: Moderate yield of medium to large spears

Mondeo: A new hybrid with high yield, disease resistant, and great flavor

Thielim: Mid-season variety with good yield of thick, excellent spears. Disease resistant foliage makes this variety suitable for Organic cultivation

Tiessen: A variety of choice for growing in a cold winters and cool springs. Out yields many varieties and a good yielding Variety.

The Garden Song-Makem & Clancy 5/8
The Garden Song-Makem & Clancy 5/8

mild tasting Leeks for cooking, eating and growing
Garden leeks, the funny shaped onion with a wonderful Taste

Let's discus how to grow Leeks in your garden, but before let me tell you about the history of the Leek plant first. The Israelite's said that Leeks grew so well in Egypt they became abundance and a staple food in their diet. Cave carvings and drawings concluded that the Leeks were part of their diet from at least the second millennium BCE onwards. Emperor Nero, who consumed leeks in soups or in oil, believed in the beneficial to the quality of his voice.

The Leeks is one of the national emblems of Wales, worn along with the Daffodil, In Welch, the daffodil is known as Peters leek, and used to celebrate St. David's Day. According to legend, King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd ordered his soldiers to identify them self by wearing the vegetable on their helmets in an ancient battle against the Saxons that took place in a leek field. Tradition said that Saint David only ate leeks when he was fasting. Shakespeare, for example refers to the custom of wearing a leek as an "ancient tradition" in the play Henry V. Henry tells the Welsh officer Fluellen that he too is wearing a leek " for I am Welch, you know, good countryman." The 1985 and 1990 British one pound coin bears the design of a leek in a coronet, representing Wales. The Welsh Leek appears on the coronation gown of Queen Elizabeth 11. But perhaps the most visible use of the Leek, however, is as the cap badge of the Welch Guards, a regiment within the household Division of the British Army.

Leeks are a relative of the onions, with a nice mild flavor that will sweeten as it cooks, like an herb flavors food. Unlike the onion leeks do not usually form a bulb. The edible part of the plant is the bottom 6 to 10 inches that has a white color to this cylindrical stalk. This part of the plant has been blanched due to lack of sunshine and that is what keeps it tender and flavorful. The leaves are tough, flat, bluish-green in color that encircles each other, forming a cylindrical shape at its base with a fan of green foliage at the top of the plant. You should harvest the plant the first year or it will go to seed and loose it texture, taste and flavor as it is making seeds.

The plant will grow 12 to 30 inches tall but the edible portion is the bottom 8 to 10 inches and 1 to 2 inches in diameter. The leek is frost tolerant and can be left in the garden over the winter but can be dug if the ground is not frozen or put into storage in your basement for the winter.

Leeks have few problems but Slugs will chew on the tender transplants early in the season occasionally. Damp weather or wet heavy soil can lead to leaf rot, which looks like white spots on the tips of the leaves before the tips eventually shrivel and die off. There is no cure but allow your soil to dry between watering will help and remove any infected plants and use them in your salad. Leeks love a slightly acidic soil like potatoes.

Start your seed indoors 8 to 12 weeks before the last frost in your area. Move the seedlings outside for two weeks when the temperatures stay around 40 degrees to harden off the plants, before planting in the garden. Condition your soil with lots of organic matter like animal manure, compost, or peat-moss before planting and blend to a depth of 8 to 10 inches deep. Plant you seedlings 4 to 6 inches apart to give the plants room to grow and spread out their foliage. Full sun is a must to grow the best plants.

What I do is prepare the soil before planting, level the planting area and with an edge of a garden hoe drag it along the ground to create a furrow 6 inches deep and 2 inches wide. I sprinkle Soil Moist granules to help retain soil moisture during the hot days of summer and cut back on watering the garden. I also sprinkle Dynamite pellet time release fertilizer as one application last the entire growing season and scratch both in the furrow before planting. Plant the leek seedlings in the bottom of the furrow about 1 inch deep and 4 to 6 inches apart. As the plant begins to grow I slowly begin to fill in the furrow covering the stem over the next month. Once the foliage begins to take off and grow quickly I will mound additional soil around the stem of the leeks to help develop the tasty white stems even more. I also add compost around the plants to keep down the weeds and help retain soil moisture. The plants do require about an inch of water per week to grow properly and once a month I feed them with a liquid fertilizer like Blooming and Rooting fertilizer to give them a little push.

Begin harvesting when the stems grow to one inch in diameter or more. Be sure to loosen the soil with a pitch fork or garden trawl before pulling the leek out of the ground or it will break apart in the garden. I will build up the soil around the plant a couple inches in the late fall just before the ground freezes and place bales of STRAW not HAY over the plants for insulation, so I can harvest in the middle of winter. In the spring I use the straw as mulch around my garden plants to control weeds and prevent water loss due to the sun and wind on hot days. In the fall I turn under the straw for conditioning the soil and breaking up heavy soil, also encouraging earth worms to move back into the garden, RECYCLE and REUSE is the secret to a good garden.
Leeks are wonderful in soups, omelets and vegetable dishes for their flavor. Try growing Leeks this spring, you will not be sorry and they require very little work by you for a bumper crop. If you purchase Leeks in the super market, they can cost you as much as 75 cents to a dollar each, so grow your own. Enjoy !

The Garlic Song Andrew Rouse  Andrew Rouse
The Garlic Song Andrew Rouse

"-Onion skin very thin, mild winter coming in. Onion skin very rough, coming winter very rough"

Old English Rhyme

Celebrations Meatballs
If you're planning a family celebration, football party, or even a few friends over by the pool and you want something to take the edge of before the meal is ready this is your best bet, wicked tasty meatballs. Make them in your Crock Pot and you can but it together in just 10 minutes, cook on low for 3 to 4 hours or on high for 2 to 3 hours. So plug in your Crock Pot and enjoy your company.

1 and pounds of frozen cocktail size all beef meatballs
cup of Real maple syrup not sugar free types
1 jar 12 ounce of chili sauce
1 jar 12 ounce of Grape Jelly

Place your meatball in your Crock Pot. Now add the Maple syrup, chili sauce, and grape jelly. Blend well and cook on low for 3 to 4 hours or High for 2 to 3 hours. Every hour if possible mix the meatballs with the sauce so they keep well coated with the mixture. Whatever you have left over can be reheated at a later date or put them in a freezer bag, freeze and reheat in the microwave later. If you have a large Crock Pot you can easily double the recipe for large group of people. Enjoy!

Day to look forward to:

Groundhog Day February 2 only 11 days away

Valentine Day February 14 only 23 days away

President Day February 15 only 24 days away

Daylight Saving day March 13 only 52 days away

St. Patrick's Day March 17 only 56 days away

Spring arrives March 20 only 59 days away

Easter Sunday March 27 only 66 days away



Garden Journal

        Garden Journal - A garden is a friend you can visit any time. Gardens require planning and cultivation, yielding beauty and joy. This garden journal helps make planning and organizing easy. This book makes a great gift for gardeners, family, friends, birthdays, Christmas, new home or as a self purchase.


Cover holds a 5 x7 or 4x6 photo, Heavy-duty D-ring binder

1. 8 tabbed sections
2. 5 garden details sections with pockets for seeds, tags....
3. Weather records page
4. 6 three year journal pages
5. Insect & diseases page - 3 project pages
6. 3 annual checklist pages
7. Plant wish list page
8. 2 large pocket pages
9. Sheet of garden labels
10. 5 garden detail sheets
11. 5 graph paper pages for layouts
12. 5 photo pages holds - 4- 4x6 photos in landscape or portrait format

Journal, Planning, Inspirations. 

 To Order call 207-590-4887

Regular price $34.95  Special Price $31.95!  special!        Supplies are now limited!


Don't forget to get ready for the stormy weather ahead of us.  Make sure to get your Ice Melt it is organic and safe for plants, pets and Children.
Mention Paul Parent Garden Club and save 10% and get free shipping. 

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