Row by Row Episode 27: Best Practices for Growing Onions

Growing Onions in the Vegetable Garden

On this week’s episode, the guys talk about planting and growing onions. They talk about the difference between short-day, intermediate-day, and long-day onions and how you can determine which type is best for your area. The short-day onions are between 10 to 12 hours daylength. The intermediate-day is 12 to 14 hours daylength. Then, long-day are between 14 to 16 hours daylength. The ones that they can grow are short day onions because of where they live in the south. They also discuss the varieties that have worked well for them which include Texas Legend, Yellow Granex, Southern Belle Red and Red Creole. Greg and Travis discuss how they like to plant their onions thick and thin later when harvesting some as green onions. Travis mentions that growing onions can be broken into two phases — the foliage stage and the bulb stage. He explains that you want to grow as much foliage as you can, which in turn will create nice, large bulbs during the latter stages of the plant growth. They also talk about fertilizer needs for onions. They mention that onions need a complete fertilizer with phosphorous and potassium initially, but then mostly nitrogen throughout the rest of the foliage stage. Travis will give the onions 20-20-20 to start off then lay off with that fertilizer and sometimes top dress or sprinkle some Chilean Nitrate. They recommend to stop adding fertilizer when the onions get to the bulbing stage. According to Bruce at Steele Plant Company, the sweetness of the onion is completely dependent on the amount of water it receives. When it comes to harvesting onions you should wait till the tops fall over. Steele Plant Company is also sending Greg and Travis some shallots, leeks, and elephant garlic to trial out in the garden this year.

Show and Tell Segment

On the show and tell segment this week, the guys talk about some radishes that were just harvested from Travis’ garden. Greg mentions that he recently planted several rows but is concerned about the heavy rains affecting the germination. Travis also explains the difference between multiform and monogram beet seed, and the need for thinning when using multiform beet seed. He prefers to grow beets from transplants because he can thin in the greenhouse versus thinning in the field. Greg has got carrots, English peas, cilantro, radishes, and beets all planted in the garden. The tool of the week is our dibble wheel attachment that can attach to our Single, Double, and High Arch Wheel Hoes. This is a great tool that makes indentions in the soil for transplants or seeding.

Viewer Questions Segment

On the question and answer segment, the guys answer questions about adding phosphorous to the soil and will glyphosate kill weed seeds. The first step when wanting to add phosphorous is you should do a soil test to check where your levels are in the soil. Greg explains there are many different organic sources for adding phosphorous to garden soils, which include soft rock phosphate, hard rock phosphate, bone meal, and triple phosphate. He mentions that soft rock phosphate would be his preferred organic solution, but that the inorganic forms work very well also. Greg also states that if you have too much phosphorous in the soil you can use a crop like corn to pull away some of that phosphorous from the soil. Travis explains that glyphosate or commonly known as Roundup will not kill mature weed seeds and is only engineered to kill the plant. He says the best way to control weed seeds on your dirt is to incorporate them in or kill the plant before it seeds.

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