Gardening|Modern Homesteading|Self-Sufficient Country Living
“I literally just closed the cover on the last page of the Chairside Reader. I totally enjoyed it and much of it parallels my own childhood memories of my country relatives. Good job, Bud!” S.T. Fitch
Planting Onions – A How-To
I live in zone 8b so it’s time to plant some onions in my garden. This year I purchased onion sets from Dixondale Farms in South Texas. I bought a total of four bunches of Texas Legend onions. These are a sweet bulbing type and I have always had terrific success growing large onions from this variety. Four bunches netted about 300 onion sets this year from Dixondale which will cover two double rows about 30ft. long and planted 4″ apart.
First thing was to prepare the row beds. I tilled my soil and added in some composted cow manure and then tilled again till the manure was well mixed with the soil. Dixondale has a great planting diagram that they send with the onions sets and I followed their instructions. I dug a small trench down the center of each row and laid my drip tape tubing and added some 13-13-13 fertilizer in the trench. After that I raked soil over the top of the trench and leveled everything out again.
Next, I connect my drip tape to the header tubing and hooked up the water hose to check for leaks. After a few minutes, the drip tape marks a nice wet line down the center of the rows to aid in planting the onions, which is the next step.
I am rather anal about getting my rows and plants as straight as possible in my garden. I suppose this stems from the story I mentioned in my latest book The Gardner’s Chairside Reader in which I talk about trying to get straight garden rows with my Dad when I was a kid. To help getting the onion sets perfectly straight and spaced at 4″, I built a quick planting template from some scrap wood. This has 4″ marks drawn on each side.
Dixondale recommends a maximum planting depth of 1″ deep for their onion sets, so I marked a wood dowel 1″. After placing my template centered on the row, I simply walked along and pressed in the dowel to the 1″ mark to make a small impression in the soil at the proper spot. The template makes all of this very simple and consistent.
Next I removed the template and set it aside and planted my onion sets in each hole in the soil. I firmly pressed the soil tight around each set and then used the template again down the row till I had a perfectly straight and spaced double row of onions.
Onions are heavy feeders which means that they require a lot of fertilizer to grow into large bulbs. By using the drip tape, I am able to inject liquid fertilizer to the onion roots by using my fertilizer injector. These will grow throughout the winter months and will be ready to harvest around late March or early April of next year.
I hope that I have gave you some ideas on how to adapt my planting method to fit your garden and I wish you much success and big juicy and sweet onions!