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The First Onions

August 4th, 2015

One of the reasons I grow different varieties is to watch how they do in my garden. I watch grow rates and harvest dates. This year ‘Martina’ onions are new to my garden. They grew well, sized up nicely and were ready to harvest this past weekend. This variety is a short day variety, so they size up without the 16 hours of sunlight that the long day ones require.
martina onions 1
According to Baker Creek, this onion does well and summer/fall onion in the northern latitudes. I should have planted my extra seed and planted them out to see how well they sized up in the fall. It’s probably too late to sow them now, but I’ll throw the extra seeds in a tray and see what happens, perhaps with a little cover they might produce a crop that will last longer in the spring than the onions harvested now.
martina onions 2
This is one of my favorite things about gardening, I get to satisfy my curiosity and get vegetable in return. I’ll be watching these onions to see how well they store.  This variety sizes up so fast, I will have to start some extra early next winter to have onions extra early from the garden. I could even grow onion sets one year to plant out in the spring.

What fun things are you doing in the garden this year? 

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?

Windbreaks

September 12th, 2013

“Unless your garden is stocked only plants on the prairie or steppes, every garden should have hedges and windbreaks that will baffle the wind and break it up, protecting plants growing in their shelter.”

Monty Don from Gardening at Longmeadow

Windbreaks are a very important consideration in your garden. Even if you live in a typical suburban allotment you need to consider how the wind comes across your garden. Back in Ohio, my gardens were surrounded by trees, lots of very tall trees. We were very protected from the wind, too protected, for these trees limited the breeze and also provided too much shade.
Mulching the Main Garden 4
Here in Maine, we have the opposite problem in the garden. There are large trees, but most of them are too far away from the garden to provide the kind of wind break we need to protect plants, both from the winter winds to the winds of the summer.
Onion Harvest 3
My onion harvest suffered from the lack of a windbreak. I harvested the majority of my onions a month ago, but a few remained standing because they were protected by the celery. It’s amazing how much larger they are than the ones harvested a few weeks ago. If I had a proper windbreak my onion harvest would have been almost twice the size it was (Note Dexter setting by the onions for scale). Below, you can see the onions I harvested earlier on the right and the ones harvested later on the left.
Onion Harvest 1
Onion Harvest 2
I am planning on adding a hedge around this garden in the future, but next year I will have to remember to plant something tall on the side the wind generally comes from.  Perhaps a few sunflowers to feed the chickens in fall would be a great option.

Do you have a windbreak in your garden? Have you ever suffered loss from too much wind?

Seeing Green

March 6th, 2013

Even though the snow still blankets the garden outside, I’m starting to see a little green in the house. Over the past week, I’ve been starting onions, celery, lettuce and herbs. I’m already seeing the fruits of my labor, I’m noticing more and more green every time I check on the seeds.
seeing green 2
One think you will notice is that the fresher the seed the quicker it germinates. That’s one reason to use up your seed and pay attention to the self life of the seeds you have. Here’a a handy chart if you need one.
seeing green 3
Along with the onion seeds in flats, I started lettuce in some large planters. It’s germinating nicely and should be producing a few salads for our plats in a few weeks.
seeing green 1
The cats are also enjoying some greens, every week I plant them a new container of wheat grass. Soon enough, the chickens and ducks will be enjoying the same thing. I’m in the process of starting large flats of wheat for them.

Do you have any green sprouts in your house yet?

The Results Are In….

July 26th, 2012

All of the ‘Copra’ onions have finally be harvested. If you remember, this year I’m experimenting to see which method of growing onions works best. I started ‘Copra’ seed back in late January. Plants of the same variety were also purchased from Johnny’s Seeds. Seeds were also sowed directly in the garden in March when I transplanted the ones from the seed starting area.

As expected, the onions grown from seed started in winter produced the biggest onions. The direct seeded onions might have been bigger had I thinned them, but I completely forgot to do so until it was too late. I’m going to save the small onions to plant next spring as sets, we’ll see how that works out. It’s amazing how they were all ready to harvest at roughly the same time.

From top to bottom:

  • direct seeded in garden on March 2
  • purchased plants transplanted in the garden on April 13
  • started in late January & transplanted in the garden March 24


I always figured that starting onions from seed would produce the best onions. After reading about how onions are treated with so many pesticides, fungicides and other chemicals I have decided that all my onions will be grown from seed. The plants I purchased from Johnny’s Seeds were from Dixondale farms. After reading on their website that they recommend using fungicides every two weeks to control blight and fungus I decided I really wan’t comfortable using their plants in the garden. It’s worth it to me, to take the time to start mine so I can ensure that my onions aren’t sprayed with fungicides, pesticides and other chemicals.

Now that all the onions are harvested it’s time to store them. I’m keeping all of the types separate to see which of the above store best. I’m also trying a few different storage methods. Most will be stored in shallow wooden boxes. I did braid some, both because they’re very pretty and I figure the old-timers probably knew a little something about keeping onions all winter. Seems to me the air circulation around onion braids hung from the ceiling would be much better than for those stored in a basket or crate. I’ll let you know.

Now it’s time to harvest all the red ‘Zepellin’ onions that were planted back in April as well. I’ve never grown many red onions because I’ve found they don’t store quite as long as yellow onions. This variety promises to store well so we shall see. When it comes to cooking I’m not choosy about the color/type of onion, I like them all. As long as I have onions in the pantry I’m one happy camper.

Do you like red, white, or yellow onions best?

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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 moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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