Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Suuuuuwheet!

Today I will place an order for my favorite Texas Sweet Onion bulbs from Dixondale Farms. As you can see, they did quite well in the garden last year. I also grew the Candy Apple version of the Texas Sweets and they were a gorgeous dark burgundy color. These onions were introduced to me by a friend who claimed his onions were as big as a plate. He actually brought me one and they were huge (larger than a saucer but not quite a plate.) My friend proceeded to bet me that I couldn't grow them bigger than his....I'm always up for a challenge...especially that of the gardening nature. (I ordered 50 Texas Sweets and 50 Candy Apples) I believe I came pretty darn close to beating his "plate-sized" onions. Looking back on the blog, it appears that we got them in the ground on April 18th along with the potatoes. If the weather holds I suspect we can plant them even earlier this year.

Since bulb onions mature in response to changing amounts of daylight there are varieties that work best depending on what part of the county you live. Short-day varieties grow best in the South. Intermediate-day varieties are grown best in the northern Arizona to Washington D.C. area, and Long-day varieties are best suited for the North. However, there are exceptions to the rules: The Intermediate-day varieties can be grown as early onions in the North....which is what we did.

The best soil for these guys is slightly acidic and well-drained. When the tops start to lay over (by themselves) as in the 2nd photo, then you know they are ready to harvest. Then to cure the onions you just place them in a warm, dry place and away from direct sunlight. Short-day varieties cure for a few days before you clip off the tops and roots. Intermediate-day and Long-day varieties cure for up to three weeks. Most properly cured onions should store up to 8 months in a cool basement or root cellar. Using a mesh bag or other "breathable" material to store them is advisable. Be warned that sweet onions do have a shorter storage life than most.

A bit of trivia to leave you with: Did you know the sweet onion became the Texas state vegetable in 1997?

8 comments:

  1. I want bulb onions this year. Last October, I purchased sets from my local Lowes, and they've been in the garden ever since. I'm really not sure what to expect, as I really need to be educated in growing them! It is just a plain white variety, but I don't know if they're short-day like is recommended. Any input? Thanks for all suggestions!

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  2. EG: did you pull any onions to check the progress? I have read where extended cold periods (longer than a week or so) below freezing can kill them. I know that I have the best success when I purchase the sets from a seed company rather than the store...maybe some of those bulbs sit around too long. Also, since onions have such a shallow root system, they do require lots of water for optimal growth. Anyone have further suggestions?

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  3. That is one prized onion you have there. I have always wanted to grow big onions but have yet to have any luck. I grow the right variety, start them early, water well, fertilize well and all I get is tennis balls at best. Maybe this year I will have better luck... Good luck with you competition.

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  4. Sunny, i've pulled about 6 - but no bulbs to speak of. They get watered and fertilized pretty well, and are hardy down to a temp of around -20. I'll just wait 'em out, I guess.

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  5. Good luck EG...I'm sure your patience will pay off :)

    Thanks Dan...I entered them in the fair and accidentally labeled them as white onions when they should have been yellows :( Needless to say, I didn't place because of it...details, details... I have learned my lesson :)

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  6. I like your post.It is full of learnings that are very useful.

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  7. The thing that has stopped me from growing bulb onions is that they are photo sensitive. That is when the days get so long, they start to bulb. That's swhy most onions, like texas sweets, Walla Walla etc grow in hot climates, where they get a great big head start in the spring. If grown outside a greenhouse up here, they stay small, then when bulbing produce small bulbs. Are u growing them in a greenhouse?

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  8. Thanks Hydro!

    BV: I didn't grow them in the greenhouse...rather we started the bulbs in the garden in April of last year and harvested them this past summer.

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