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Talk to me about Onions

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Talk to me about Onions

Post  Sunsanvil on 1/24/2014, 3:28 pm

Last year we did about 8 squares worth of onions. Bought sets from Vesseys. As usual non-SFQers said that 16 per square was insane and there is no way they could grow big (and I confess I planted half the squares with only 9).

Got into a whole debate over how to grow them big. Some folks said push the tops over as soon as you see them, some said push them over "when they get tall", some said don't push them at all and let them brown and fall over on their own.

I pushed half of them over on the latish side, left the other half. All we got were mostly golf ball size, some slightly larger. Taste wonderful but not the baseball size I was hoping for.

What has your experience been?

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Re: Talk to me about Onions

Post  CapeCoddess on 1/24/2014, 4:18 pm

@Sunsanvil wrote: All we got were mostly golf ball size, some slightly larger.   Taste wonderful but not the baseball size I was hoping for.

What has your experience been?

Even though I read that the seeds I was planting would grow big onions in one season in my area, your experience was mine also.  Tasty golf balls plus a lot of tinier ones that I'll be replanting as sets this year. 

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Re: Talk to me about Onions

Post  Marc Iverson on 1/24/2014, 6:30 pm

So have either of you decided to do anything differently with your onions next year?

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Re: Talk to me about Onions

Post  at2wooden on 1/25/2014, 8:51 pm

I ordered onion sets from Dixondale farms. I got the Texas Legend and sweet 1015y.
I got them in just a couple of days (priority shipping) Good price, healthy live product.
We planted them today. 4 bunches worth. We  I love you  onions!!

http://www.dixondalefarms.com/category/onion_plants

Using them as companion plants, and have planted a little fence of onions around my strawberry patch  

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Re: Talk to me about Onions

Post  jmsieglaff on 1/25/2014, 9:43 pm

I've gone 9/sq and haven't had the biggest onions, but bigger than golf balls.  This year I'm going to try the planting approach camprn suggested in another thread:


http://squarefoot.creatingforum.com/t16933-onion-question#181086


Alternating 5 (like a dice) and 4 (like a diamond).

I grew some onions in the cinder block holes last year and those actually were the biggest, probably about baseball size.

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Re: Talk to me about Onions

Post  Cajunsmoke14 on 1/26/2014, 11:23 pm

I also bought onions from Dixondale Farms this year. I bought 1 bunch of Candy and a bunch of Red Candy.

I know you should mix your different plants in beds, but with that many onions it would have taken too many boxes, and I didn't have the money for that.

I ended up doing a 2X10 box for the Candy and a 2X12 box for the Red Candy. I put 4 per square. I ended up with 80 Candy and 96 Red Candy.

I hope they get bigger than a golf ball. That would be very upsetting.

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Re: Talk to me about Onions

Post  meatburner on 1/26/2014, 11:42 pm

Cajun, we do the intermediate day in our area here.  I planted according to their instructions and we had softball sized onions.  It was mind boggling.  I did exactly what they recommended for spacing and doing the trench fertilizing.  Absolutely amazing the yield we got.  I did plant them about 2" apart in beginning because I like green onions so pulling them to get the spacing worked great for us.  Good luck!

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Re: Talk to me about Onions

Post  Cajunsmoke14 on 1/26/2014, 11:50 pm

Well I planted them last Saturday. Here in South Louisiana we never get a snow, but low and behold it snowed here Thursday night and didn't melt away till yesterday. They were only covered in snow about 18 hours, hopefully it don't hurt them. My mom assures me they will be OK, because they are a bulb. 

Tuesday they are calling for more snow and ice, its really time for winter to be over.

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Re: Talk to me about Onions

Post  meatburner on 1/26/2014, 11:56 pm

Cajun, they are pretty tough.  I bet they will be just fine.

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Re: Talk to me about Onions

Post  Sunsanvil on 1/27/2014, 8:49 am

What about the whole bending over of the tops debate?

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Re: Talk to me about Onions

Post  meatburner on 1/27/2014, 9:14 am

Nobody goes out in nature and steps on them.

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Re: Talk to me about Onions

Post  camprn on 1/27/2014, 9:18 am

@meatburner wrote:Nobody goes out in nature and steps on them.
+1, they will fall over when they are getting ready for harvest.

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Re: Talk to me about Onions

Post  baileyhermit on 1/27/2014, 9:50 am

A little cold and snow should not bother them, we grow em up here in the "high country" and they are hardy little buggers.

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Re: Talk to me about Onions

Post  Sunsanvil on 1/27/2014, 10:59 am

@Marc Iverson wrote:So have either of you decided to do anything differently with your onions next year?

Yes and no. Going to get the same set from Vesseys but may try squares of 9 and 5 instead of 16 and 9.

I was going to try breaking the tops earlier on some of them but from what has just been said above maybe not. The one person who recommended not touching them at all was a hard core Mennonite farmer (animal power...no consumption engines!). He said let them brown and then wait a while longer for them to get big. I was going to do that last year except that it was getting late in the year (September for our climate is usually "its all over" for gardening), they still hadn't turned brown on their own, and a bunch of (other) people said I'd better pull them or they will rot. I wonder now if I had left them another 3 weeks or so what might have happened...

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Re: Talk to me about Onions

Post  camprn on 1/27/2014, 11:20 am

@Sunsanvil wrote:
@Marc Iverson wrote:So have either of you decided to do anything differently with your onions next year?

Yes and no.  Going to get the same set from Vesseys but may try squares of 9 and 5 instead of 16 and 9.

I was going to try breaking the tops earlier on some of them but from what has just been said above maybe not.  The one person who recommended not touching them at all was a hard core Mennonite farmer (animal power...no consumption engines!).  He said let them brown and then wait a while longer for them to get big.   I was going to do that last year except that it was getting late in the year (September for our climate is usually "its all over" for gardening), they still hadn't turned brown on their own, and a bunch of (other) people said I'd better pull them or they will rot.  I wonder now if I had left them another 3 weeks or so what might have happened...
They would have been fine. As long as they have green tops they are growing. When the daylight hours begin to wane the bulbs will naturally move towards a dormant stage and the tops will brown up and be of no further use that season.

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Re: Talk to me about Onions

Post  Sunsanvil on 1/27/2014, 11:47 am

So if I hear you correctly, pop 'em in the ground and dont touch them until the tops turn brown, at which point its harvest/drying time?

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Re: Talk to me about Onions

Post  camprn on 1/27/2014, 11:56 am

@Sunsanvil wrote:So if I hear you correctly, pop 'em in the ground and dont touch them until the tops turn brown, at which point its harvest/drying time?
Before you plant them, work some compost into the bed. You will need to water regularly and probably fertilize at some point in the growing season. You will need to keep an eye on them, weed the bed as necessary, make sure they don't get wireworms  or something.  But yes, plant them and don't worry overmuch about them. Just don't forget them.

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Re: Talk to me about Onions

Post  Cajunsmoke14 on 1/27/2014, 9:43 pm

This is the first time I am doing onions, and I will follow Dixondale's instructions on harvesting. They are as follows:

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 sun scald. 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.

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Re: Talk to me about Onions

Post  GWN on 1/28/2014, 10:26 am

I have just started my onion seeds, they are about an inch high right now.  I have been reading an article by Barb Pleasant to keep trimming the tops to allow more to go into the making of the bulb.  At least early on.

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Re: Talk to me about Onions

Post  Cajunsmoke14 on 2/18/2014, 6:37 pm

Well I planted my onions on Jan. 18, 2014 and they are looking good. They are growing taller and have added an extra leaf.

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Fertilizing Onions

Post  Rahab222 on 2/19/2014, 4:05 am

What do you fertilize onions with, when and how often?

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Re: Talk to me about Onions

Post  sanderson on 2/19/2014, 4:09 am

I just use compost in the MM. No fertilizer. Hopefully more "onion experienced" members will also answer. Camp, what "fertilizer" do you add sometimes?

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Fertilizing Onions

Post  Rahab222 on 2/19/2014, 4:26 am

Thanks, Sanderson.  I just planted my onion sets yesterday and hand tilled in lots of compost.  That's usually all I do, so this is the first I've heard about fertilizing onions; although I do fertilize other vegetables in the garden.

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Re: Talk to me about Onions

Post  camprn on 2/19/2014, 6:59 am

Top dress with a bit of nitrogen rich compost a few times during the season.

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Re: Talk to me about Onions

Post  brainchasm on 2/19/2014, 6:27 pm

I planted four squares at 16 each of red torpedoes this year.  Pretty good germination, though they look like the wimpiest grass sprouts ever.

We shall see what happens...

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