Onions Again

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Oxankle, Jul 14, 2005.

  1. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

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    Each year I plant a bunch or two of onion plants and a couple of pounds of green onion bulblets. Each year I get a few scrawny onions and lots of green onions that go to seed before we can eat them all (I always plant a lot of them)

    This year I got a nice short row of usable onions, and hardly any of the green onions went to seed so that I have a bushel or so of those big round, flat onions as well.

    Does anyone have a similar experience? Do you ever get an onion crop from green onion bulblets?
    Ox
     
  2. Nan

    Nan Well-Known Member

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    Are you talking about those baby onion looking things? Onion sets is what I think they call them? I plant those every year and have pretty good luck with them. Mine got big and I need to pull them already, but I haven't planted the onion plants in a while. They didn't get as large for me as the sets did. I have tried to plant them from seed too and those were pretty iffy! Only a few made it from seed out of the many that I planted! I have had GREAT success with the Egyptian walking onions! They are more dependable, but not much for producing a large onion...just the smaller green onion to cook with.
     

  3. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    The potential end results of planting sets is determined by the variety used. In most places, they are "generic" yellow, red, and white with no mention of the variety. All can be planted for 100% use as green onions and indeed many market growers may plant 100# at a time and don't really care which variety it is. The bulbs are never allowed to get very big. If allowed to develop into mature bulbs, the yellow ones are the best for both size and storage. Second comes the red set varieties. Many of the white ones are least desirable on the list. That's probably why Ox's were purchased as green onion sets.

    Martin
     
  4. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

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    No, Martin;
    The plants were put in to make storage onions and are the yellow ones.

    The seed company had both white and yellow bulbs for green onions, but I think the whites are generally milder and so chose those. The onions that developed from them are pretty, a bit smaller than a softball but thinner than they are across, somewhat disc shaped. Not over a half dozen of them developed a seed stalk so they are all good onions.

    I know they will not keep as well as the yellows, but they are milder and can be used first for cooking and whatever.

    I just thought it strange that they made onions instead of going to seed as the green onions usually do.

    By the way; a market gardener here told me that in this soil I should fertilize heavily before I plant onions. He says that this is the key to getting onions to grow fast and large. Next year I will do that. I suspect that I got some pretty decent onions this year because I did side dress a bit.
    Ox
     
  5. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    Ox, when buying set onions for bulbs, think of our coins. A nickel is bigger than a dime but the dime has double value. It's the same with onion sets. If one could find a pound bag with only dime size sets, he'd be almost guaranteed 100% bulbs and zero seed stalks. If the sets are the size of a nickel or bigger, the results would be virtually 100% setting seed stalks. Thus larger sets are indeed often sold just for green onions. Gardeners who know that fact don't care if they get a mixture of sizes. When onion sets only came in bulk, the frugal gardener would sort out two bags according to size and what was needed for the full season. Smaller sets were planted in one row and larger sets in another. One row for storage bulbs and one for scallions!

    Indeed, onions are heavy feeders, especially needing phosphorus. The best is 10-20-10 if you can find it. That's the standard onion fertilizer. 8-10-8 tomato fertilizer also is good for onions. Or you could use a basic 10-10-10 and add some 0-46-0 super phosphate.

    Martin
     
  6. Nan

    Nan Well-Known Member

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    I am kinda laughing to myself here Martin! What you just said must be why mine make large onions! :sing: I am soooooo cheap that I sit there and pick out all of the little onion sets out of the pile so that I will have more onions for my money! :) I just did that because you get more little onions per pound....and didn't have a clue that they made bigger onions! I always get a combination of the generic red, white, and yellow ones and use them mostly fresh and then dry the yellow ones up in the trees. I have also chopped up the red and white ones and frozen them for use in the winter. Either way...I am still chuckling over me being so cheap! My kids get really embarrassed over me picking through the sets....so I just go on my own now and sort away! Oh...I also get the medium to small spuds for the same reason...no need to get all of that middle if you have lots of good eyes on the outside! Learn something new every day...and sometimes I just dumb into it! Thanks for the info Martin! :happy:
     
  7. Oxankle

    Oxankle Well-Known Member

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    Martin!!!!!

    Thanks a whole bunch. I never had much experience with onions and always wondered why I could not do much with them. This is really useful information as onions are one of the more expensive purchases we make in the produce section and we use lots of them.

    Our onion sets here come in bulk, so sorting them is not a problem. The supplier also usually has a choice of white, yellow and reds.

    Better watch me next year; I'll have a couple of rows of yellows, a short one of whites and another of reds, all heavily fertilized with l0-20-10.

    I do not remember what size bulbs these were this year, but I did not sort them. We did not get much rain, but I flooded the row a couple of times so that they were not short of water.

    As a matter of interest; when the fellow told me to fertilize heavily I went back and side-dressed the onions, leaving a short stretch of the onion plants (as opposed to the sets) unfertilized. When it came time to harvest the unfertilized onions were about half as large as those fertilized.
    Ox
     
  8. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    In Nan's case, it is said that even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes! The thing with most onions is that they are biennials. That is, they bloom the second year. Of course, sets would already have had one growing season and gone dormant. When planted again, that is their second year according to their thinking. If they are too small to produce a flower stalk, they decide that the best thing to do is build up a lot of energy to try again the next year. And that is exactly why the smaller sets produce the largest bulbs!

    Again, the heavy feeder part comes in. Growing onions, and also garlic and shallots, do best with a side dressing of high nitrogen fertilizer every 21 days during their growing season. That may even be a lawn fertilizer such as 21-3-3. I've always used a concentrated compost tea from a tumbler since it is high in nitrogen from grass clippings and other green material. I've even mulched with fresh grass clippings with good results. This year, most of my good organic stuff has been used in a rented plot and my home onions are not nearly as impressive as in the past.

    Martin
     
  9. Nan

    Nan Well-Known Member

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    Hmmmmm....blind squirrel? Thanks a bunch Martin :nana: