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Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

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Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  meatburner on 6/28/2014, 7:12 pm

I posted this in another forum I enjoy but also wanted to ask here as well because there are a lot of experienced and helpful folks here.
My onions have grown very well this year but I have a concern if someone could chime in. The last month has been extremely windy and a lot of the green tops have blown over so many times they are not standing up anymore. Will this hurt the growing progress? I was wandering if they should be pulled but they have not dried back like you would normally wait for before harvesting. I appreciate any advise. Thanks everyone.

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Re: Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  sanderson on 6/29/2014, 1:24 am

Meatburner, A lot of my onion tops were knocked over by dragging the hose across them.  Embarassed They continued to be green, so I would say, (Newbie here) to leave them alone and wait and watch.

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Re: Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  CapeCoddess on 6/29/2014, 6:41 am

Mine are in a state of disarray also from the wind and who knows what. I've been eating the broken leaves and leaving the others thinking they were supposed to start laying over like that. Doesnt that mean they are finishing up? They don't look finished to me.

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Re: Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  meatburner on 6/29/2014, 10:02 am

Thanks sanderson and CC.  Falling over naturally is a great sign.  These have been blown over anywhere from leaning almost vertically to acturally kinked and laying over but are still very healthy and green.  I am going to keep an eye on them for possible rot issues and as soon as the tops turn some, I will knock them over and give them about a week after that before harvest.  The smaller ones are about baseball size and most are about softball size so they should be getting close anyway.  Thanks again.

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Re: Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  plantoid on 6/29/2014, 7:49 pm

Don't force the issue by knocking the tops of the onions over yourself ..let nature do it , that way you'll have the onions in as ripe a condition as their cell wall strength allows . 
 
Once they have fallen due to weather or fallen naturally, let them lay flat a few days then gently part lift them with a fork so that the majority of the root system is still in the ground but they are loose  , then four days later lift the onion completely and lay on the bed to dry for another two days this will "season"  them (encourage the onion to gently go into closedown mode and gives a better storage ) and make them less prone to handling damage .
 
Now take the onions off the bed and put them on a drying rack /board ...don't put them in the glasshouse or in a sun trap as it will almost cook them .
 
Once all the stem is light brown you can plait them into strings , this helps you store them even easier,  because you can hang the strings in a light airy frost free place, just snip off an onion or two when you need them .

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Re: Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  meatburner on 6/30/2014, 9:48 pm

planetoid, I appreciate your input but my concern was about wind damage to healthy plants.  I know how to grow, tend, harvest, cure, and store onions.  My concern was what impact wind damage might have.  I never knock over onion top but let them do that on their own.  This year has been very odd with the weather and we have had a huge amount of strong winds.  Several times has been upward to 65+ mph that has knock over the strong green tops so many times that they cannot recover.  My concern was what, if any impact that might have since the tops are still health and green even though blown over.  Thanks again.

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Re: Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  Yardslave on 7/1/2014, 6:22 pm

Plantoid's right. If you leave them in and water them too much, they'll rot. I left some in too long after they folded over , and they turned into smelly blobs of goo. I know that commercial growers intentionally stomp the stalks and stop watering for a week (or until the folded over stalks dry to a tan shade), then they are dug up and left above the soil for a few more days to desiccate the roots. They are then trucked out and processed for sale.

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Re: Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  mollyhespra on 7/1/2014, 6:45 pm

Well, I don't know the answer to your question (which is, I think, could the wind knocking over your onions prematurely have an adverse effect on their growth/maturation) but I would second your plan to do keep an eye on them & maybe do some exploratory digging to feel how big the bulbs are and make your choice based on that.  How early is it for you to be harvesting, BTW?  Weeks, days or more than a month?

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Re: Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  sanderson on 7/2/2014, 2:32 am

Yardslave, You mentioned the garlic tragedy, is there anything going on with the onions over there? I over-watered and my onions had mushy areas. Lesson learned.

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Re: Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  plantoid on 7/2/2014, 4:07 am

I've finally taken the " part lifted " onions of the veg bed at 05.30 hrs this morning  and have laid them out on a wooden table top to fully ripen for a week or so .
 


Meatburner ,
A lot of my onion tops suffered storm & wind damage,  I left them in place till they started to turn a yellow straw on the tips and then did the easing up exercise & stopped watering them .
 
The biggest onion , one that was still well rooted & standing tall but had yellowing tips   is about five inches across then bulb & was a good 38 inches tall .

Most of the " fallen ones " are around 3 inches in diameter but this small average size has likely happened due to the trials I've been doing for 18 months this year in a dedicated onion & garlic bed.
 
I've been experimenting using a combined base mix with added vermiculite to wood pulp and local amenity recycled garden waste.  It's given me zillions of weeds and not a lot of decent onions and garlic ..in fact the garlics in that bed were an unmitigated disaster as many were a bulb the size of a single clove .
 
I'll be excavating the fill at the end of September & spreading the contents thinly on the lawns, refilling the onion with a coir based MM refill so it is the same as the rest of my beds . 


I'm considering using 3 foot long bamboo canes next year  as individual onion support sticks and using a loose tied loop of food wrap as the support  /guide ring . It should encourage a bit of movement in the plant but prevent too much damaging movement which should make the onion develop bigger roots and thus in turn grow bigger because of it .

I'm going to try this idea because the onion tops on some of my onions reached 38 inches when the storm and winds laid them to waste .

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Re: Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  meatburner on 7/2/2014, 8:05 am

Plantoid, I like the idea of loosly staking the onions.  I can see how that would work well.  I pulled up about half my onions this morning and will leave them on top of the ground for a day or two as the weather is supposed to cooperate.  The others have not been blown over or are not kinked, so I left those standing in place.  Thanks again for your advise.

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Re: Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  Marc Iverson on 7/2/2014, 1:01 pm

This happened to a number of mine, and it looks like some of them were walked on by critters on the way to somewhere else in the garden. But the damage was so random that it would require individual watering or non-watering of onions. That would be quite difficult, as they're close enough that if you water one, you're starting to water the others on every side, and vice-versa -- keeping one dry means you have to keep the others dry too.

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Re: Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  manda99 on 7/2/2014, 1:52 pm

Mine are in the same situation. We've just been hammered by storms. One square, I just went ahead and harvested. The onions were already 2 or 3 inches wide and the winds knocked them over forcefully enough that the bulbs were dislodged from the soil. The rest are still in the ground. Thankfully, most of my onions square are on the edges of the boxes, so I've sort of arranged the flattened greens to lay over the lip of the box. I don't have any definitive advice, but I'm going with watch and wait and just try to keep them from flopping on everything around them. I've never had this happen from storms before, but we've just had torrential rain after torrential rain and I think that combined with the wind gusts just did them in. It also pulled all my peas off the trellises, and knocked my bean tower over. It was a rough June.

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Re: Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  Yardslave on 7/2/2014, 7:35 pm

So far, My red onion patch is healthy and thriving well. I have had 5 plants heal over in random areas in their 4X4' plot. I just left them until the foliage faded ( took about 5 days), and pulled them so they could season up a bit in the dry air. They are all between 3 1/2"-4", the others are larger. I removed them so I could continue to water the rest patch until their leaves start to dry a bit, then I'll manually flatten them down, wait a bit, and pull them up. As far as any Fungal infestations in the area, I haven't heard of any blighted fields in my area, but most gardeners rotate their crops. Last year Fuserium wilt struck and wiped out a lot of gardener's hopes for homegrown tomatoes- no sign of it this year though.

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Re: Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  jimmy cee on 7/2/2014, 9:17 pm

My onion bed was doing great growing straight up till 3 weeks ago, a hail storm smashed them all down.
only garlic is still upright.
I am leaving these in a week after they turn brownish, then they come out to dry.
It's my understanding to get them out of the ground before splitting and become dirt logged...
shallot, 3 different types of onions, they all came down...just took these photos.

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Re: Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  Marc Iverson on 7/2/2014, 10:01 pm

Wow, they really did get beaten down. Sorry to see that. I'm surprised that they're still so lush and green three weeks after being flattened like that.

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Re: Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  sanderson on 7/3/2014, 1:14 am

Jimmy, Gosh, reminds me of crop circles.


Last edited by sanderson on 7/3/2014, 12:15 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo)

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Re: Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  jimmy cee on 7/3/2014, 9:50 am

They must still be developing though, weeks ago I had removed a few tops and they were delicious and tender, now their hard, stingy and yukky.

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Re: Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  Yardslave on 7/3/2014, 6:16 pm

Jimmy, talk about a "beat down" !!! 2 seasons ago, a much smaller hail storm hit my garlic, onion and kale. I didn't think much about it because very few plants were actually knocked down like your onions. I left them alone and as the weather warmed up and the humidity stayed high from the storm the plants started showing small pock marks from the hailstorm. The injured spots developed rust fungus and I had a heck of a time clearing it up. You may want to try to keep things real dry for a while.

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Re: Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  jimmy cee on 7/3/2014, 11:07 pm

@Yardslave wrote:Jimmy, talk about a "beat down" !!! 2 seasons ago, a much smaller hail storm hit my garlic, onion and kale. I didn't think much about it because very few plants were actually knocked down like your onions. I left them alone and as the weather warmed up and the humidity stayed high from the storm the plants started showing small pock marks from the hailstorm. The injured spots developed rust fungus and I had a heck of a time clearing it up. You may want to try to keep things real dry for a while.
That high humidity can have a real negative effect on plants.
I only watered these once since I planted them.
M.M. does it's job well in holding moisture.
I'll let nature finish them off.

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Re: Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  sanderson on 3/2/2015, 8:39 pm

My question is: should I be hilling or adding more mix to these onions?  I planted the white Spanish starts from pony packs late fall and they fell over rather quickly.  They seem healthy but I don't know if the actual onion grows in this exposed white area.  Thank you.

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Re: Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  mollyhespra on 3/2/2015, 9:19 pm

If I understand your question, Sanderson, you want to know if the exposed white part of the stem is going to swell up into a bulb?

Because the answer depends in part if those onions are meant to be bulbing or scallion (bunching). I think Spanish onions are supposed to be bulbing, but you could have gotten incorrectly labelled starts. You could also have a bulbing variety that isn't going to start bulbing up until the right day length triggers it.

At any rate, here's my suggestion: gently pull back the soil around one of those onions and see how close to the surface the roots are and if there's any evidence of swelling. The bulb (if there's going to be one) will form next to the roots. If the roots are too close to the surface, then go ahead and mound a little dirt over the stems if you want, but I think I'd just leave them alone.

My potato onions grow with their bulbs exposed part of the way and it hasn't seemed to hurt anything. HTH!

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Re: Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  Yardslave on 3/3/2015, 6:17 pm

One strange thing about onions is that they grow tall greens in cold weather and bulbs in warm weather, so chopping back part of the green portion will give you something for the table while you sit it out for the next few months until it warms up. I've heard that topping the leggy onion will force it to establish a better root/bulb structure that will invigorate the plants. They look pretty leggy- perhaps too much nitrogen- you might want to start a batch of kelp tea and apply it to the soil to boost the potassium which helps in bulb production.

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Re: Onion Concern - Appreciate Your Advice

Post  sanderson on 3/3/2015, 8:19 pm

Thanks for more advice.

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