[Market-farming] onions

Road's End Farm organic87 at frontiernet.net
Tue Oct 20 20:49:19 EDT 2009

I start onion seed indoors in mid to late February, several seed to a 
cell (plastic inserts, cell size is 72 to an 11" x 22" flat). I have 
trimmed the tops back and not trimmed the tops back, I'm not sure that 
it makes much difference; the plants do look a little sturdier with 
trimmed tops. I used to thin them to no more than 4 plants to a cell, 
but usually now don't bother; if I seed about 5 seed to a cell it comes 
out close enough. (Little pearl onions are seeded about 7 seed to a 
cell to give me 5 or 6 plants.)

Plant out in midApril, not dividing the plants, but setting one cell's 
worth each foot in the row.  (I have more land than hands or equipment, 
and plant rows on 36" spacing to  allow cultivation with rototiller.)

This doesn't give huge onions, but they do get a fair size, if I can 
keep the weeds down at least until mid-July; if they get weedy after 
that it doesn't seem to make much difference. And they're much faster 
to plant and weed with one clump every foot than with one plant every 
three or four inches.

You need strains suited to your day length; and the northern varieties, 
at least, will indeed bulb up starting after summer solstice whether or 
not the tops have any size to them; so they need to get their growing 
done early. I like Copra and Redwing.

-- Rivka; Finger Lakes NY, Zone 5 mostly
Fresh-market organic produce, small scale
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