How to grow and where to go to get starts for your growing area.
Last week in the article I spoke of how to find your growing area. With that in your mind you also need to know if your soil is alkaline or acidic. You can have a soil test done and find out the ph. Most plants like one or the other but a middle of the scale is where you want to be 6.2 or 6.8 for optimum growth especial onions. They also need more micro nutrients , minerals and will grow larger when these are provided for them. Let’s get started. there are 3 regions for onions. Long day, Intermediated and Short day. Here in central Texas we are in short day and need those varieties. There are 4 important steps for getting a good crop.
1. Soil preparation. They will need full sun and good soil drainage. They like a bed at least 4″ high and 20″ wide, loose and crumbly.
2. Plant 4 to 6 weeks before last estimated spring frost.Onions need fertilizer right away so here is a great way. In the prepared bed dig a 4″ deep and 4″wide furrow right down the middle of that bed. This is now your fertilizer trench. Do not plant in this trench! Use a 10-20-10 fertilizer. Sprinkle 1/2 cup per 10 linear feet. Cover with 2″ of soil. Now that is where you will feed your onions. Plant your starts on the sides of this furrow. 2 inches inside. Plant them 1 inch deep and 4 inches apart. You can plant closer and pick them for green onions. You need that 4 inch space for them to grow big, so don’t crowd them. There should be a 16 inch space between beds.
3. Water, Fertilize and Weed. That is the gardeners mantra!! Soaker hoses work good with this bed and is water saving efficient. Use timers and set them for early morning watering. Water is important, keep them moist but if you over water they can split. Feed every 2 to 3 weeks after planting when the leaves need nitrogen to develop, there should be 13 leaves to get a good onion each layer is a leaf! Feed with ammonium sulfate 21-0-0. in alkaline soil and calcium nitrate 18.104.22.168 for acid soil. sprinkle 1/2 cup per 10 feet in the trench. Water in the fertilizer. Stop fertilizing when the onions bulb. Bulbing is when the ground begins to crack around the start. And Weed, Weed, Weed, This keeps the competition for nutrients down and going to those great onions.
4. Harvest and Store. When the tops of the onions turn brown or fall over they are ready for harvest. Pull them in the morning on a sunny day. Lay them to the side and let the tops of the next onion cover the bulb. Let them cure for 2 to 3 days. Keep them dry if rain is possible get them under cover. Curing is vital for long storage. Pest include thrips and some fungus, molds so keep an eye on them and treat early. The tops must be fully dry, once they are you can clip the roots and clip the tops 1 inch from the bulb. Store in a mesh bag or an open basket up off the ground.
Some onions can be braided and make a lovely addition to your kitchen. I am a a firm believer of using local and here in Llano Rhode Feed and Supply will be carrying, Dixondale Farms 100 plus years of onions right here in Texas, onion set by Jan 8 or 9th 2015. They will have 1015, Sweet Red, Yellow Granex, White Granex, White Bermuda and Texas Legend. All are awesome onions and worthy of the garden!!
Next week some onion recipes.
Growing green and in the garden prepping the onion beds with Jannie!