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Planting Onions

May 11th, 2015

When you first begin gardening you follow the recommendations on the seed packets and in the gardening books. Then you read books that give different tips and you see different methods while visiting gardens.
onions at Johnnys seeds
I remember when I first started growing onions, I carefully planted them with the proper distance in between bulbs. Then I saw where someone planted them closer, just like Johnny’s Seeds does at their research farm in the photo above. I started planting them closer, and closer, and closer with no loss in size of quality of onions.
onions (1)
Then I read in Charles Dowding’s Vegetable Course to plant them in clumps of three. GENIUS – I though to myself and I started using this method. They grow just as well as when planted individually and it’s so much faster to plant them this way then in individually. They are also much easier to weed since there aren’t individual plants to weed around.
onions (2)
Yesterday I planted 60 seedlings each of 9 different varieties of onions. Onions are one of those things I love to grow, I could definitely get them cheaper at the farmers market, but I love the process of starting them from seed in February, planting them in the garden in May, harvesting them in July, and eating them all winter. There’s something about growing onions that I love.

Have you discovered any interesting planting methods that went against the normal recommendations?

Bringing in the Sheaves (or braids)

October 11th, 2014

Yesterday I started bringing in the onion crop. They have been drying in the top of the garage for a month or so. This year they were harvested a bit later than last, they didn’t get blown over like they did last year. The results were much larger onions, which I’m pretty happy about.
onion braids 1
I only braid the smaller onions, the big ones are put into wooden boxes in a single layer and stowed away in the basement where it’s nice and cool. Usually they last through early June of the following year, just in time for spring onions and small fresh onions. This is my best onion harvest so far, I’m guessing I harvested around a hundred and fifty pounds of onions.
onion braids 2
Onions are one of my favorite crops to grow, I love nurturing them from tiny seeds. Perhaps I love growing them so much because I really love eating them. Pretty much every meal around here begins with the chopping of an onion!

What’s your favorite crop to grow?

Friday Favorite: Planting Things

May 9th, 2014

It’s always nice to finally start planting things I started as seed so long ago. Yesterday evening I planted three of the four flats of onion seedlings. It’s always excited to start putting seedlings in the ground after nurturing them for so long.
empty seed flats (1)
The empty seed flats will be filled with more seeds: leeks for fall planting, warm weather flowers, herbs, and other random seeds I haven’t had the space to start yet. The best part about planting seedling is that the garden is finally starting to look like a garden.

What are you planting this week?

Sets or Pearls

August 29th, 2013

Very early this spring, I direct sowed some onion seed in the low tunnel. I added a label that said “bunching onions”. Since I had seed for red bunching onions, I wasn’t surprised when they came up with red stems. Then, they started to bulb a little, not exactly what I thought was going to happen.
red pearl onions 1
Evidently, these were bulbing onions and not bunching onions. I don’t know if I planted the wrong packet of seed, or if the seed packet was mislabeled. It doesn’t really matter, I can use these onions as pearl onions or I could save them and use them as sets for next year. I don’t usually grow onions from sets because they have a tendency to flower and I don’t find that they store as well.
red pearl onions 2
Of course pearl onions would be nice as well, I was thinking I might pickle them if I chose to use them in that way. Peeling all those onions will be a chore though, not something I’m looking forward to.

Would you save these and plant them or enjoy them as pearl onions?

Best Harvest Ever!

August 17th, 2013

I’m a lover of onions and can never seem to grow enough of them. Over the past couple years, I’ve been augmenting my bulb onions with other alliums (read my post about alternative alliums here). Even so, I always run out of onions and other alliums and end up buying a few at the farmers market.  This year might be the first year I don’t have to.
Onion Harvest 1
Onion Harvest 3
Onion Harvest 2
The main crop of storage onions was harvested last week, here’s a look at what I have to squirrel away in the larder.  They’re drying in the upstairs of our garage where it’s nice & warm. It’s quite impressive I must say, I’ve never had enough space to grow this many onions.  If you can believe it, this is only 3/4 of my crop, there are some still growing in the garden to be harvested in a few weeks.
Onion Harvest 5
The main varieties I grew were: Copra, Australian Brown, Sedona, Cortland, and Redwing.  I had seeds for Ailsa Craig, but somehow they didn’t get started, I guess the seed packet got lost in the shuffle.  I also started seed for a red torpedo onion, which never germinated.
Onion Harvest 6
Onion Harvest 4
I already have a long row of leeks in the garden for next spring and three different kinds of bunching onions as well.  The perennial leek bulbs will be planted soon, along with the potato onions and shallots as well.  Little by little, I’m achieving allium independence – which is a beautiful thing if you consume as many alliums as we do.  This large crop of onions will save me a good deal on groceries, looks like I can buy more of my favorite chocolate (which happens to be Taza).

Do you grow alliums in your garden? How many different kinds do you grow?

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.