Market Garden Update: Planting Onion Seed

It’s October and the time to sow the onion seed is right now. I’ve put it off long enough. Not that I’m lazy or have been too busy, but that I’m not looking forward to discovering more critter activity; as well as the feeling of defeat that comes afterwards. I went out there the other day and saw that the garlic has begun to sprout and that’s exactly what was needed to get me motivated to get to work. Let’s go.

I used string (this time) to help keep the row straight and grabbed the hoe to pull back the bark. This method of gardening is on a trial basis and hopefully will work out good since it’s so much easier than I imagined farming would be.

I easily pulled back the bark to see that the compost is moist and beautiful… and so easy to work with.

For the most part, the original soil beneath the compost is unseen. This is about a 3-4 inch layer that I spread directly onto the (tilled) ground and everything has pretty much stayed put.

But on occasion, a spot like this will turn up where I didn’t level out the OG (‘original ground’ to the younger folks) and so this is what you get. I sure hope the veggies don’t hate me for it. The weeds are loving it though… if I see any weeds at all, they usually get started in the bark layer or a tiny spot of exposed compost, which makes them a breeze to pull out. But these came up from the OG and are pretty well-rooted. I can see this spot is going to be a source of frustration for sure!

Oops! What is this? Another gopher path right across the rows. So I stopped the row and then started it again to try and avoid giving them a free meal. We found one path already and this is the second… please let this be the last one! But I have to say that I’m happy that it cuts across the rows and doesn’t go underneath the entire length of them.

Their tunnel crosses the walkway, just like the first one did. This should be easy to gas out. I’ll just mark where the garlic was planted above it and take the cloves out later.

Next, I took the same hoe and turned it on an angle and dug through the soil to loosen it up and make it easier to trench with my hand tool. I really should find a pointed hoe which would do both jobs at once, but this method worked for now.

A little seed goes a long way, so I was trying to be careful not to dump too much in one spot. This is red “Ruby” onion and it is going to be yummy for sure. When it comes time to thin them, I’ll leave two bulbs every two inches (instead of the typical four-inch spacing) then let the bulbs continue growing until they get large enough to transplant to another row. That’s the cool thing about anything in the onion family; transplanting is not a problem because even if the bulb goes dry, it can still be planted and grown later. I’ll wait until the bulbs get to be about an inch round, dry them out a bit and then start another row. The dry, tiny bulb is typically called a “set” and produces an onion that can be on the dry side. There is also the concern that the plant tends to flower faster. But I think the onions should still do well at the market.

I loosely covered the trench back over and watered the seeds really good. I’ll water them the next day and the next day after that, before going to every other day. When onions are young, they should receive an inch of water a week and they actually require more the closer they get to being harvested. (Of course, it all depends on the weather.) By early summer, all the way up to a week before harvest, they’ll still need plenty of water so watch them carefully. And I won’t side-dress them with the mulch until later on. They may not even need it, so we’ll see.

Next, I need to get this pathway cleared out and cover the next section for planting the yellow “Walla Walla” onion seed. Yes, this should have been done a long time ago. No, I assure you I have not been lazy or too busy. I actually like doing things at the last minute… uh, are you buying that..?