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  #1  
Old 09/07/10, 09:29 PM
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why did my onions not grow?

I bought purple onions this past spring, from the farm store like I always do. I planted them on time, nearly 300 of them. kept them weeded down until probably the first of august, when I got too busy to keep weeding.

some of them I cut off the flower heads, some I didn't. I dug up half a dozen the other day, and they are all still small, even though the tops are dead.
what the heck? Last year, they grew just fine.

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Old 09/07/10, 10:31 PM
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http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/a...les/onion.html

Q & A numbers 11 and 12

My onions did terrible too. Garlic didn't do much better.
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  #3  
Old 09/08/10, 12:05 AM
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We also had tiny onions this year...probably has something to do with the 2 solid months of rain we had this spring, followed by temps in the mid 90s all summer.

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  #4  
Old 09/08/10, 12:10 AM
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First thing, one should never have to dig an onion. They should be at least 50% above the soil level. If the soil is real heavy and they can't push out of the soil, they will remain small. Fertilizer is also important as they are heavy feeders. Initially they need extra phosphorus and then need lots of nitrogen while growing.

Second is that your red (not purple) variety is not one that often gets to big size up here. (There should be a disclaimer, when sold, telling the buyer to plant them for scallions.) I do have a nice bag of them hanging in my garden shed right now but maybe only 5 or 6 are pushing 2". Most barely made it beyond golf ball size despite rich loose soil. The good thing is that we'll still be eating them next May.

If you want big storage onions next year, buy the yellow ones. I've never ever seen those disappoint many Wisconsin gardeners. Second choice would be the whites.

Martin

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Old 09/08/10, 08:13 PM
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the red ones I planted last year (same variety, same store)
grew great. they probably were around 3 inches.
the reason I choose those, is because the white ones are yucky.
the yellow ones are eehhh.

when I said dig, I was speaking as removing from soil. they werent deep at all. I popped them out with my fingers.

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Old 09/08/10, 09:04 PM
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Your month of allowing competition from weeds is another size factor. No allium can stand competition for nutrients and sunlight. They were probably doing OK until you let the weeds take over. When you should have been side dressing with extra nitrogen, the more efficient weeds were using up all of whatever nitrogen was available.

Martin

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  #7  
Old 09/09/10, 05:39 AM
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Were these sets or plants?
I have found more often than not the sets bolt. I will only plant plants from now on. Try here
http://www.dixondalefarms.com/

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Old 09/09/10, 10:15 AM
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You know, all my onions did great last year (similar weather--cold and wet). I had bushels of large red, white, and yellow. This year most died and the others did not thrive. I planted plants from Dixondale Farms even. The only ones I have for storing are the Zeplins and they are medium sized.

I guess, don't give up. If they did good for you in previous years, try them again, as this was an odd year weather wise. Do rotate them though. I try for three to four year rotation.

My garlic was wonderful this year, espeically the Slovenian and Martin's Heirloom.

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  #9  
Old 09/09/10, 12:18 PM
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have you ever grown from seed? how would that work?

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Old 09/10/10, 05:50 AM
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I have tried from seed. I would have to start now for next year and I do not have the space for that.

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Old 09/10/10, 06:46 AM
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I started from seed in the greenhouse. My onions did not do as well as other years. It just seems to be an off year for some things. It was dry here but I water the garden.

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Old 09/10/10, 08:51 AM
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so you would start them in the fall? from seed?

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Old 09/10/10, 10:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lonelyfarmgirl View Post
so you would start them in the fall? from seed?
No, if starting from seed, mid-February would be the suggested time here. However, that also has the effect of having the bulbs mature a lot earlier. That's a good thing if you need them for cooking or selling but a bad thing if you want them for storage. The only one I started early this year was Cippolini and they were already done by the first of August. A friend gave me some Rosa di Milano plants which she started in April and I just pulled them last week.

Martin
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Old 09/10/10, 10:44 PM
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should I start them from seed in april then? I would prefer them for storage. what would be the best ones for here, martin? I really would prefer red ones, unless you know of a really sweet, mild yellow one. I dont like the bite you get from the whites.

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Old 09/11/10, 01:25 AM
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Originally Posted by lonelyfarmgirl View Post
should I start them from seed in april then? I would prefer them for storage. what would be the best ones for here, martin? I really would prefer red ones, unless you know of a really sweet, mild yellow one. I dont like the bite you get from the whites.
This is the wrong time of year for having a tutorial on starting onions but I'll rip the above apart as gently as possible. February or April starting depends a lot upon the variety. Pro and con already mentioned. Switching to storage and red throws a big wrench into the works. That combination isn't often in the same venue of seed started any time before July 1. Rosa di Milano might be considered but finding the seed is another matter. And it's a strong one to the end which may come 9 months after harvest.

Sweet and mild yellow is common but you need a 7---- Zip Code instead of a 5----. Means that your best bet is to move to Texas. And none of those would result in a storing onion. Two best ones with good storage would be Copra and First Edition but they are neither sweet nor mild. Both should be available as plants from any reputable garden center and thus avoid the usual risks with starting your own.

The easiest and more reliable will always be from sets. They are usually Ebenezer and Stuttgarter varieties. Given the right conditions, they will never disappoint you. The reds and yellows can't be beat for storage while the whites are my favorites for cheddar cheese, mayo, and onion sandwiches when I feel a sinus problem coming on.

Or, throw out all of the above and try the Amish bottle onions. One type is yellow, somewhat mild, and store 10 months. Not a big slicer but super as a cooker. I've got a supermarket shopping basket full of them and looking forward to enjoying them yet next May. That's in addition to the Rosa di Milano, Cippolini, and some huge yellow Stuttgarters that a friend grew from sets.

Martin
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Old 09/11/10, 01:29 AM
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Can you grow Walla Walla's there? They are a wonderful sweet white onion, not a long storage life, but are very tasty dehydrated! I grow my onions from seeds, plant in early Spring here. I like the Perennial onions the best due to how much of the year they grow here. I use my Egyptian Walking Onions for their greens, but the onion bulbs, stronger flavored best for cooking, can be harvested, too. My red ones didn't do well last year, might give them another try.

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  #17  
Old 09/11/10, 02:27 AM
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We can grow Walla Wallas here in Wisconsin but we don't usually get big size or storage capability. I was first introduced to them in 1983 and bought a plug tray of them from a tailgate street corner marketeer. Got a lot of 2"-2½" bulbs of which any not used by Thanksgiving were rotten. Tried them again 15 or so years later and under better conditions. Got lots of 3" bulbs but again little after Thanksgiving. I suspect that the ideal situation to supply all of the benefits of onions would be to have a wide variety of types and varieties so that one onion form or another would be part of one's daily intake 365 days a year. I can almost surely say that we do!

Martin

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Old 09/11/10, 11:52 AM
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Walla Walla's can be overwintered here, haven't researched other zones & I got monster sized ones (overwintered are the largest, usually). I plant mine in the Fall from seed or start with sets early Spring.

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