As regular readers know, I’ve been experimenting with growing onions from seed so that I won’t have to be dependent on Dixondale (or anyone else) for transplants.
Report on Onions from Seed
This past winter I started several varieties of sweet onions that would come in early. Early is usually synonymous with short day onions in my garden. They’re not for long term storage, but will store nicely for several months.
For their excellent storage potential I’d started Parma, Australian Brown and Redwing. (I’ve grown Redwing previously and it’s a great and hardy onion.)
Growing from seed is really easy unless I have problems with the weather cooperating after I put the newly germinated seedlings outside in January or February. (I have no space in my home to accommodate a light fixture that would allow seedlings to continue good growth inside.) This year, even though the seedlings were covered with row fabric AND my old cold frame, I lost all of them to the severe cold.
In the spring, although it was really too late, I started a smattering of seed again. I figured the worse that could happen was that I’d end up with the late-to-the-party transplants producing tiny bulbs that I could cure and plant again in the fall for spring onions by year end. (One of my favorite treats for a winter salad is including a fresh spring onion from the garden!)
Transplants – Problems, Strategy and Varieties
Ordered just under 1,000 onion transplants from Dixondale. With the time it was taking to care for Bill, my usual order of 1,500 wasn’t possible. I did manage to get the ones I ordered into the garden by mid-March.
The Problem Foreseen
I knew when I planted that I would probably have difficulty setting up a place for them to cure in June. (Bill does not yet have the strength needed to do it.)
First Variety to Mature – Texas Super Sweet 1015
In order to give myself at least a month of additional time before the curing screens were needed, I planted about 120 Texas Super Sweet 1015 that would come in first. Their storage potential is 2 or 3 months, but I harvested as I needed them each day and never had to worry about curing. The row is now empty.
Second Variety to Mature – Highland
Next to mature was Highlander, a new variety for me this year. When I ran out of Texas Super Sweets I started in on these. Many of the onions matured and the tops fell weeks before I had a place for them. (Usually I harvest within 1 or 2 days of the tops falling over and place them on the screens to cure.)
Being afraid I was going to lose a good part of the crop if I left them in the ground any longer (because of all the rain this year), I harvested and brought a couple of large flat baskets full to cure on my porch. (Cool and fan going 24/7.)
Although Highlander has the storage potential of 5 months, mine will be eaten long before then.
Last Variety to Mature – Copra
Copra is the onion I usually grow for long term storage through the fall and winter. Storage potential is 12 months, but we usually finishing eating them by January.
They’re the last to mature of the varieties I ordered. Only a few of the tops fell before the 4th week in June. Can’t say I wasn’t concerned when that happened. Especially with all the rain we’re having instead of our usual drought conditions.
A Friend to the Rescue
Fortunately, a friend who came over to bring us a few things from the store got to talking to Bill. The next thing I knew he was telling her what to move where and within an hour or so I had my curing screens up! Yeh!!
I harvested several hundred onions the next day. May have lost a few, but most look really good.
If you use and enjoy onions and don’t grow them – why not consider doing so. They’re an easy and rewarding crop. And like almost every thing, they taste sooooo much better when you grow your own.
Onion Posts – Additional Reading
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