This site is an archive of For the latest information about Susy and her adventrures, visit the Cultivate Simple site.
Thank you for all your support over the years!

First Seeds Planted this Season

March 11th, 2010

We’ve had some beautiful sunny warm days this week that have awakened my gardening spirit. I spent some time on the front porch in the sun starting a few flats of seeds. The first seeds of the 2010 gardening season. What did I plant? Onions, of course.

Onions take a long time to germinate and they can be planted outside earlier than many other plants. So typically onions are the first seeds to start in late winter. Many people prefer using onion sets since they’re easier, but I like the variety offered by onion seeds. I planted 2 different varieties of heirloom onions this week.

Jaune Paille Des Vertus (onion) – Introduced about 1793, this old onion is now hard to find. It is also called Brown Spanish by French seed house Vilmorin; in 1885 they said, “The winter supply of Paris and of a great part of Europe consists chiefly of this variety, which may be often seen hanging up in dwelling-houses in long hanks formed by interlacing and plaiting the withered leaves together.” The roots are flattened and 3″-4″ across, the skin is a brownish yellow and the flesh is flavorful. This antique is known for its keeping qualities that made it a standard in Europe for over 200 years.

Yellow of Parma (onion) – Long-day type–Large, golden onions are oblong-globe shaped. This late onion makes an excellent keeper; a rare and hard-to-find Italian variety.

I waited a little longer this year to start onions. Last year I had onion seedling that needed to be planted outside and nowhere to put them due to weather and too wet conditions. (this is a photo from April 10, 2009)

Later this spring (as soon as I get the seeds and the ground thaws), I’ll be direct sowing a few other varieties of onions in the garden as. I’m going to compare the effects of starting the seeds indoors or direct sowing in the garden. If direct sowing works well, that will sure save me some time each spring.

Any seeds being starting for your 2010 gardens? Which ones?

20 Comments to “First Seeds Planted this Season”
  1. Compact UK on March 11, 2010 at 9:31 am

    Your grow lights are fab! They obviously do a good job of providing light for those onions.

    We’ve had a very cold winter this year in the UK, so we’re about three weeks behind in our season, which is slowing everything down in the garden :(
    .-= Compact UK´s last blog ..Things are coming together =-.

    Reply to Compact UK's comment

    • Susy on March 11, 2010 at 10:17 am

      Yes, I think we’re behind as well. We’re just getting the snow pack melting off and the ground isn’t thawed yet, which is usually is by now. Usually the rule of thumb here is to plant peas & potatoes on St Patties Day, I don’t think the ground will be thawed enough for that yet.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  2. Sara on March 11, 2010 at 10:03 am

    This is my first year trying onions from seed, and so far they are doing well. I started a bit earlier than you, and was just looking up today when to give them their first “haircut”

    Mine are Clear Dawn Onion and Rossa di Milano Onion from Fedco. Clear dawn is related to Copra, which I’ve bought as plants–a good storage yellow onion. Rossa is supposed to be a good-keeping red onion.

    Hopefully they’ll do well, I had a bust year for onions last season and it’s a drag having to buy them this winter!
    .-= Sara´s last blog .. =-.

    Reply to Sara's comment

    • Susy on March 11, 2010 at 10:18 am

      Yes, I’ve had trouble with onion as well. I think I don’t get enough sun for them here. I’m going to experiment with a few new planting areas here. I’ll be growing the bulk of mine in my mom’s sunny garden though, her onions do great!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. Mrs. Mac on March 11, 2010 at 10:22 am

    I tried all three methods last year (direct sowed seeds, sets, starts) and they all fared well.
    .-= Mrs. Mac´s last blog ..Grain Mills – Cooking – Garden Work =-.

    Reply to Mrs. Mac's comment

  4. Kelly on March 11, 2010 at 10:39 am

    This weekend I’ll also be starting Yellow of Parma (also Flat of Italy (red), Giant Musselburgh leeks and He Shi Ko bunching onions) in flats. It’s my first year trying onions! Were it not going to rain, I’d be planting beets and turnips in the garden, too (they’ll wait til next week).

    I look forward to seeing how your direct seeding goes with the onions – you’re right, that would be *so* much easier and faster!
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..Garden 2.5: Raspberry Dormancy =-.

    Reply to Kelly's comment

  5. Louise on March 11, 2010 at 10:43 am

    I have started a lot of lettuces (in trays): Mache, Arugula, Romaine. Other seeds I have also planted (direct sow): Carrot, Peas, Spinach. In small plastic drinking cups I have started seeds of Sunflowers: Mammoth, Teddy Bear and a few others.

    Hollyhock is one of my favorite, so that one has been started. And not to forget Calendula (a great eatable for in salads.) I plant by the moon phases; yesterday, today, and Friday are perfect moon planting days.

    Today I will plant a number of fruit trees, Swiss Chart, and Wakefield Cabbage. Wakefield Cabbage is one of our favorite; it grows fast, is just delicious when sautéed in a bit of butter (so sweet, it melts on your tong.) Also planted have been five different kinds of potato. This is my first try at potato; they are planted in self sown fabric (landscape fabric) bags for easy harvesting.

    I am trying out something new with onions. From the onions that I have been using over the last few months I have saved the bottom part where the root is still connected. I have planted all these onion bottoms in starter soil and just about all have sprouted. Not sure if it will grow an onion, but I like to experiment. I will also seeds onion today just incase.

    Reply to Louise's comment

  6. stefaneener on March 11, 2010 at 11:05 am

    I know Steve Salomon is all about direct seeding. I sort of like nurturing transplants. . . but I get his ideas. I’m hoping to have enough onions to last us through the year. We shall see.
    .-= stefaneener´s last blog ..They’re baaaaack =-.

    Reply to stefaneener's comment

  7. Wendy on March 11, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Already started sevearl varieties of tomtatatoes (maybe 10), my herbs, green peppers, and onions. My tomato seeds rom last year got mixed up by some little curious onlookers -s o I’m not sure which ones will come up from my “mix” of seeds. :) The kids each started some plants – H – snap dragons, h – giant sunflowers, o-big pumpkin. :)


    Reply to Wendy's comment

  8. MAYBELLINE on March 11, 2010 at 11:38 am

    Tomatoes are going nuts.

    I have never seen onions started indoors to be transplanted. Never even crossed my mind. Everything is direct sow here with the exception of my tomatoes. I had a bad experience with pill bugs mowing down my seedlings one year.

    Do you have a cure for pill bugs and earwigs?
    .-= MAYBELLINE´s last blog ..Garden Update =-.

    Reply to MAYBELLINE's comment

    • Susy on March 11, 2010 at 12:32 pm

      I don’t have too much issue with pill bugs they don’t bother my plants, but earwigs do as do slugs. I once read about dealing with earwigs, but I can’t remember what it was. I’m more of a let nature run it’s course kind of person. I focus on creating good habitats for beneficial insects & birds and they seem to always solve my bad bug issues. Sometimes however, I do lose a crop or plants. But I’ve noticed the longer I do this the less issues I have.

      I’ll see if I can find some info on earwigs.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • MAYBELLINE on March 11, 2010 at 11:03 pm

        Bueno. I appreciate any information you can provide. Earwigs look like they will rule the world soon.
        .-= MAYBELLINE´s last blog ..Garden Update =-.

        to MAYBELLINE's comment

  9. Jaspenelle on March 11, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    Because of our almost complete lack of snow here in WA and unusually warm weather I have started spinach and lettuce indoors, if not for that though, the first thing I start in Ragged Jack Kale (I’ve heard it called Red Russian too) which is unbelievably cold hardy. This year I am growing Tom Thumb Peas in a container on the kitchen table, they are doing really well.

    I always tend to plant a handful of things too early, but I can’t help it, which is why I bought row cover rated to 24F probably. I make sure that I sow something like radishes for which I have a ton of seeds, the loss doesn’t bother me too much then.
    .-= Jaspenelle´s last blog ..Paganites’ Peas: week 4 =-.

    Reply to Jaspenelle's comment

  10. Lona on March 11, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Hi. I love green onions in the spring but have never tried to grow them from seeds. Guess I never thought about it. Usually just get the onion sets. Yours look wonderful. I may have to reconsider this onion idea. ;-)
    .-= Lona´s last blog ..This,That and the Other =-.

    Reply to Lona's comment

  11. kristin @ going country on March 11, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    Eggplants. I haven’t done it yet–maybe tomorrow during nap time . . .
    .-= kristin @ going country´s last blog ..You’ll NEVER GUESS Who’s a Month Old Today =-.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

    • Susy on March 11, 2010 at 6:05 pm

      Oh yes, now that you have a little one you have to do things during nap time.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  12. Denise on March 30, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    This winter I was inspired by your onion blog entries to try starting onion seeds indoors. I ordered the Yellow of Parma seeds from Baker Creek and about 3 weeks ago started my seeds. However, they are not looking so hot. Some of them have died off and many are looking withered on the tips. Any ideas from your experience on what could be the cause? (too much watering, not enough, too hot of lights?) This is my first time using grow lights, but the couple petunia seeds I planted have done fine… if you have any insight send it my way.

    Reply to Denise's comment

    • Susy on March 30, 2010 at 2:38 pm

      They should be OK, mine get withered on the tops as well, you can trim them a little, some people recommend it others say not to. They should perk up nicely when planted outside, I find that most plants don’t do as well under grow lights as they do outside and the sooner they can be planted in real outdoor growing conditions the better. Maybe a really weak dose of fish emulsion or some other liquid fertilizer would perk them up as well. I was going to do that for my onion seedlings this week.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  13. […] at Chiot’s Run we are located in a zone 5, so I must start seeds indoors if want to have a good season of tomatoes or early broccoli. I have an old light table my mom got […]

    Reply to Sunday Photos…From Seed « Not Dabbling In Normal's comment

  14. Jean in Mt on April 25, 2011 at 5:21 pm

    Thanks for your wonderful blog !! Plus sharing your onion seedling photos. I am growing the same varieties this year for the first time, Yello Parma and Brown Spanish, plus testing them against Copra, which I hope to replace with an heirloom variety so I can save the seed. I always plant the sprouting onions the next year, bugs love the flowers, and it would be great to be able to save the seed.
    When I bought onion transplants, they were always so much bigger than anything I could grow at home. I’m glad to see others the same size as mine and your confidence that ‘all is well’
    Thanks again !!

    Reply to Jean in Mt's comment


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 moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

Read previous post:
Some Like it HOT

I'm a big fan of hot food, and by hot I mean spicy hot. You'll find me adding crushed red...