Row by Row Episode 15: The Largest Onion Plant Grower in the U.S.

Special Guest: Brue Frasier

On this week’s episode, the guys air an interview with Bruce Frasier of Dixondale Farms. While at a meeting in Chattanooga, Bruce and Greg had a chance to sit down and record a conversation for the Row by Row Garden Show. Dixondale Farms is the largest onion plant producer in the United States. As Bruce explains, if you purchase onion plants for your garden, there’s a very high chance they were grown in Texas. Dixondale grows over 800 million onion plants per year, which include short-day, intermediate-day and long-day varieties. Bruce explains that the type of onion you grow will depend on your climate and daylength. When discussing fertilizer requirements for onions, Bruce likes to use 10-20-10 ratio that offers nitrogen. However, initially, phosphorous and potassium are what encourages root development in onions. Then they will take up the nitrogen and get growth and foliage. Bruce explains that a perfect onion has 13 rings. He explains how to grow the perfect onion in the garden. Greg mentions that the Texas Legend is his favorite variety to grow, and Bruce provides some other great variety suggestions for those living in northern climates. When discussing the red onion varieties his favorite is there exclusive Red Candy onion. According to Bruce producing red onion seeds are extremely difficult because they have a tendency to bolt easily. However, Red Candy is one of the most bolt-resistant varieties offered. So instead of a two-year process, they have to make it a three-year process which most other companies don’t like to do. Bruce also mentions that they’ve recently started carrying shallots and leeks which are more fun to grow and great in soups. Shallots and leeks are known more in northern climate gardening than in the South. However, they can grow in the southern climates. Greg and Travis look forward to testing those out in their southern climate garden in the future.

Show and Tell Segment

On the Show & Tell segment this week, Greg has some pickled beets that a friend gave him. The guys have been growing beets consistently for a couple of years now and they intend to try picking some this year. Travis explains that he prefers to transplant beets as opposed to direct seeding them into the garden. This is because he can control the germination easier and get more consistently-sized beets and greens. Greg has some heirloom corn varieties, Bloody Butcher and Jimmy Red, that he harvested about a week ago from his vegetable garden. The tool of the week is our high carbon steel, diamond hoe that has nice quality ash handle with a wax finish instead of the lacquer handles that wear off easily.

Viewer Questions Segment

On the question and answer segment, the guys answer questions about weeding slow-germinating crops like carrots and cover crops for clay soils. For slow-germinating crops like carrots, Travis suggests several techniques that can be used to control weeds until the plants are able to outpace the weed growth. These techniques include flame weeding and wire weeding in addition to ensuring the weed seed bank is reduced as possible. Carrots do a lot better direct seeding than transplanting. Travis suggests using the wheel hoe to get the weed seed bank depleted off and clean before starting to plant. For clay soils, the guys recommend rooted vegetable cover crops like purple top turnips and daikon radishes. Because their roots penetrate deep into the soil, they do a great job of making the soil more workable while adding quality organic matter in the garden.

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