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Onion Planting Guidelines:
Quite possibly one of the easiest veggies to grow, soil for onions requires just a little preparation for a successful harvest, but they don't like competition from weeds - especially grassy weeds, so a clear bed is best.
For detailed planting guide from the onion growers here in TX, follow this link. Keep in mind, these are not organic directions regarding the fertilization! But the soil prep and diagrams are helpful.
*The Texas onion growers suggest you plant your onions 4 to 6 weeks before the last estimated spring freeze - March 15th, which puts planting date at about Jan. 29th.
Organic directions with excerpts taken from the A&M website;
Care Of Transplant Instructions
When you bring your transplants home, they should be planted as soon as possible. The onions can live off the bulb for approximately three weeks. Keep them in a well-ventilated, cool area until you can plant them. Do not put them in soil or water.
The roots and tops may begin to dry out but do not be alarmed, the onion is a member of the lily family and as such will live for approximately three weeks off the bulb. The first thing that the onion will do after planting will be to shoot new roots.
Preparing the Soil
Onions are best grown on raised beds at least four inches high and 20 inches wide. Use some soft rock phosphate in the bed prior to planting, about 1" deep and spaced about 4" apart about 2 weeks prior to planting so it's avail for the plants right away.
Planting the slips
Use a pencil to poke your hole if soil isn't soft enough to just push the slip in with your fingers. Transplants should be set out 4 to 6 weeks prior to the date of the last average spring freeze. We usually use President's Day as a marker on the calendar.
Too much up and down with the freezing weather, can trick this biennial into thinking it's the 2nd spring too early - and forcing it to flower - instead of bulb. So you may want to plant some early to get a jump on things, but don't put all your eggs in one basket as they say.
Onions like nitrogen. We use fish emulsion, but you can also side dress with your favorite organic dry fertilizer, such as Texas T.
The first application should be about three weeks after planting and then continue with applications every 2 to 3 weeks. Once the neck starts feeling soft do not apply any more fertilizer. This should occur approximately 4 weeks prior to harvest.
Always water immediately after feeding and maintain moisture during the growing season. The closer to harvest the more water the onion will require.
(YES - this part is on the Aggie site!) For organic gardeners a rich compost high in Nitrogen should be incorporated into the soil. Unfortunately, there is not really any product available to assist in weed control during the winter besides heavy mulch, so the only method will be manual or tractor cultivation. While cultivating be careful not to damage the onion bulb. As the onion begins to bulb the soil around the bulb should be loose so the onion is free to expand. Do not move dirt on top of the onion since this will prevent the onion from forming its natural bulb. Start early with cultivation practices.
Please note that this grower is non-gmo, but is not all organic. They do not, however, just spray on a schedule. I've spoken to them and they only spray fungicides in the field as needed. I will check when our orders ship to see when/if they've sprayed last. (I can not find any local, (or national) organic short day onion slip growers, seeds need to be planted in the early fall.)
Potato Planting Guide:
We plant most of our potatoes on our farm in early to - March, you know, St. Patty's Day for Irish potatoes. Planting dates can vary by farmer's experience, soil type, and exact growing area, but keep in mind, the tops are tender to frost and freezes can kill them back down to the spud - causing them to have to re-grow all over again or spend too much time in too wet of soil and rot. So you're not always gaining any time. Maybe try a few early if you really have the itch, but I suggest you wait to do the bulk of your planting until early March. (Our area's last avg. frost date is March 15th or so, but watch out and be ready to cover for those late cold fronts around Good Friday!)
Prepare the potatoes for planting
Once you receive them, quarter the potatoes (or half the small ones), and dip the cut end into dusting sulfur to help prevent rotting and let "heel" over at least a few days. We store the cut pieces in 5 gallon buckets or boxes labeled with the variety name until we are ready to plant. Expect the cut ends to scab over after a few days. While handling, try not to break off any sprouting eyes, although you can still plant them if you do. It just gives them a bit of a head start if they're already sprouting.
Prepare well cultivated raised beds about 36 inches wide and 100 ft long.
Homegardeners can try growing potatoes in a 4 ft. wire cage and use hay for your mulch. Bags of leaves mixed with mulch and compost can work, too. I've even seen it done in old tires or hollowed out 55 gallon drums. There are lots of ways to grow potatoes on a small, home garden scale!
We drop a single small plow to dig a center trench in the bed, and apply rock phosphate at 10 lbs. per 100 ft into the open soil. Plant 10 lbs. of the prepared seed potatoes per 100 ft. After sowing the seed potatoes 12-18" apart, cover the seed 6-8" deep with soil or loose mulch.ON-GOING CARE;
Generally, the late winter rains will provide adequate irrigation, however, a back-up drip system could be useful. Do not over water!
When the potato plants reach 6-8" you can bury them deeper with soil and/or mulch, continuing as the plants grow to increase yields.WHEN TO HARVEST;
Mid spring you will see plants bloom, which will mark the time for baby potatoes. The longer you wait the larger the potato. Dig carefully with a single plow or shovel.
EAT EM UP!
Upon harvest, we don't wash ours, but rather just let them dry/cure, dust off the big dirt chunks if any, and store in a dark cool space until our CSA picks them up. They will store in the fridge for months. I am STILL nibbling on some from last summer. I keep them in an official "potato" bag - one that breathes - in my produce drawer.
More Potato Planting Tips:
Rule of thumb in the Dallas area, is to plant no earlier than Valentines Day. Some farmers plant at St. Patty's Day. It's not real critical, but the tops are tender if it freezes.
Soil preparation is pretty easy, but you do need a loose soil for best results. Dig and loosen to about a foot or so, or prepare to plant shallow and build up your beds with hay or other loose mixture such as compost.
Fertilize with 1 lb. Colloidal Rock Phosphate per 10 ft. row. Then, some say, fertilize again when first blooms appear. (Let me know if you need this, I'll be sure to have extra on hand!)
You can cut the seed potatoes into pieces, making sure there is at least 1 "eye" per piece, or drop whole potatoes in. Plant 10 to 12 inches apart and cover in a furrow between 1 and 3 inches deep. Space rows 24 to 36 inches apart.
(NOTE: If you cut into pieces, it is suggested you dust them with sulfur to help protect from molding in the ground.)
We spray with compost tea and fish/seaweed foliar about twice a month and side dress with partially finished compost and mulch.
Plants will start to emerge after what may seem like forever, but then you "hill" up mulch or loose soil/compost up the sides to help increase yields. Once plants bloom, you can start to dig around and find the tubers forming - harvest at the size you want! Some people like to store potatoes, we dig em' up and cook em' fresh! You can store unwashed "Irish" potatoes for several months in a cool and dry place. (I don't typically wash mine till I'm ready to eat them.)
Yield is roughly estimated at 10 lbs per 1 lb of seed potato planted.
Here is an article about growing potatoes in hay from Mother Earth News.
And sadly, I had to turn from our own state to find non chemical suggestions for growing them. Here is a good reference page from my home state of IL on potato growing tips.
We can start planting onions anytime now, and yet, I've planted them as late as March with good results. You can plant onions at various times - but a very experienced local farmer tells me, with our crazy winters - the weather goes warm/cold too many times - your onions, which are biennials, can be fooled into thinking they are in their 2nd year and may go to seed before they bulb. (so there is no need to rush.)
At Eden's we can also bring in a variety of drought tolerant, native or otherwise well adapted ornamental plants for your home landscape. We can help you decide what to plant where and, best of all, we can tell you how to take care of what you buy so it lives! We will help you choose the best plants for your situation, order the plants fresh from a local grower and help make sure you get the right soil amendments to assure a good start!