Monday, January 18, 2010

Planting Onions

I finally got my onion sets (Texas 1015Y) in the ground!  Saturday morning the rain quit and the sun came out mid morning.  I saw my window of opportunity to plant my onions.  I'll be out of town for the next week to 10 days and I *really* wanted to get these babies in the ground before I left.  Also, according to the lunar calendar, Saturday was the day to plant root vegetables.  (More on lunar planting at a later date...I''m still learning more about it...fascinating stuff!)

Although the soil was a bit wetter than I would have liked, I planted them anyway.  I figured it was better than waiting another 10 days.  This coming week is supposed to be sunny and very warm with high temperatures hovering about 65-68F.  That should dry the soil out nicely.

I went out to the garden early this morning to turn the dirt and let it dry out a bit before planting later in the afternoon.  As usual, the morning was beautiful as the sun was just coming up...another beautiful hill country sunrise.

When planting onions it is crucial to choose a site in full sun, ensuring your transplants get at least 8-10 hours of direct sun per day.  More is better.  As is my constant manta, enrich the soil with 1-2 inches of good compost before planting.  Since I added my first batch of homemade compost to this bed in late November, I didn't need to add any more.  I just gently turned the dirt before planting (happily discovering another treasure trove of earthworms in this bed!).  (OK Diane...enough pictures of worms already!)

My garden beds are rectangular (9' x 5') and so I plant my onions in rows, spacing each row about 6 inches apart.  What I did was create 4-inch deep furrows midway between the rows and spread a band of my favorite, well balanced organic fertilizer, Medina Growin Green Organic Fertilizer, in the bottom of each furrow--about 1 1/2 cups per row--then covered the row with soil.  This makes the fertilizer easily accessible to the roots of each plant as they grow.  I will continue to fertilize the bulbs every 2-3 weeks.

Onion sets are easy to plant and don't require the special attention that onion seeds do (won't ever plant onioin me...).  I just poked the sets into well worked soil so that the top of the set is level with soil surface...about an inch deep.  It's that's easy.

The care of onion sets is pretty straight forward:
  • weed early and often
  • don't overwater
  • when the tips of the the foliage start to turn yellow, leave off watering.  This is a sign that the bulbs are maturing
  • Fertilize young plants but stop fertilizing about 5-7 weeks before the expected harvest date
Harvesting is easy too:
  • pull young green onions if you want to use them for scallions
  • watch for the plant tops to start to die back--a sure sign the bulbs are enlarging
  • store in cold dry place
I am not a fan of raw onions :-( but I loved cooked down, sweet, caramelized onions.  They are the basis for just about everything I cook--soups, sauces, sautes, rice/grain dishes--you name the dish and there's probably a sauteed onion in there. 

As an aside, I was a bit upset when I opened up the onions set and discovered how few bulbs there were in this set.  I usually order my onion sets from Dixondale Farms in Dimmit County here in South Texas.  They are the gurus in onions transplants.  However by the time I got around to ordering my sets, Dixondale was sold out.  So I bought my transplants from a local nursery and was *very* disappointed in the number of onions in the set.  I barely had enough to plant 3 rows!  Not happy...but another lesson learned...order onion sets early!  I asked my wonderful husband to pick up another bundle of sets while I'm gone and I'll just do a succession planting when I get always works out!

Anyhoow...I'm so excited about being able to plant and harvest my own onions.  I grew onions about 3 years ago but I didn't get my sets in the ground early enough the past two years.  I was determined to plant onions this year to use in my Texas kitchen garden!


  1. Thanks. Well written, beautiful beds, good gardening job. Makes me want to get outside and dig in the dirt. Good luck with the onions.

  2. Thanks for visiting Jim :) I'll keep up to date with onion progress.

  3. I'm going to try growing these in Flordia here in the fall.