Planting Onions and Taters

Yesterday was a busy planting day here, and I managed to get both onions and potatoes in the ground. This year I got my onions from Dixondale Farms. I ordered 5 varieties: Candy, Super Star, Red Candy Apple, Red Torpedo Tropea, and Red Marble Cippolini. Their pricing structure is such that the more you order, the cheaper each variety gets, and compared with prices from many other mail order sources I think they are a great bargain. I wish we had a good source locally but all I usually see are dried up plants of varieties I don’t want to grow.

The soil temperature here has warmed up to 45°F (at 10am), which is perfect for planting things like onions, potatoes, peas, spinach and lettuce. Before planting, I amended the bed and used the Mantis tiller to work it in the top few inches of soil. Dixondale has an informative page on Fertilizer Requirements for Onions and I followed that as best I could. I also added amendments as indicated on my recent soil tests.

onion planting

onion planting

I set the onions out 4 inches apart in rows that were 12 inches apart. In the past I have planted them a bit more intensively, but then they haven’t done as well as they should either. This year I am hoping to find the sweet spot for soil fertility and planting density that will make for some good onions, plus I hope to have selected appropriate varieties for our intermediate day length area. I had plants leftover, and set them more closely together in another area for use as scallions. I set out about 200 plants for full sized onions, and if they do well they will more than pay for the cost of the planting stock.

onions set closely for scallions

onions set closely for scallions

Dixondale seems to be generous with their onions. Since I still had plants left, I set more for scallions in a little window box planter. Then I moved on to the potatoes.

onions in window box planter

onions in window box planter

Over the years I’ve planted potatoes using several different methods. When I was working on large gardening projects and had hundreds to plant we often used what I call the ‘punch it in’ method. That’s when you put the potato piece on top of loose soil and press it down into the soil, then cover with more soil. I’ve also tried using straw as a mulch, without much success since the slugs usually wind up doing a lot of damage. These days I use a hoe or rake to make a shallow trench (about 3 inches deep) then set the potato pieces along the trench. To finish I cover the potatoes with soil that came from the trench. This year I am growing Yukon Gold, German Butterball, Purple Majesty and French Fingerling potatoes.

shallow trench for planting potatoes

shallow trench for planting potatoes

It was a great day to be working outside, sunny and with temperatures near 70°F, so I took advantage of the conditions and did as much as I could. I worked up a spot in one of the cold frame beds and set out some lettuce transplants that needed a home. I use the cold frames not only as season extenders, but also to protect the plants from hungry deer, groundhogs and rabbits.

lettuce plants in cold frame bed

lettuce plants in cold frame bed

The lettuce varieties are Baby Oakleaf, Simpson Elite and Red Sails. I plant them all fairly close together, and since the Baby Oakleaf won’t get as big as the others I set them even closer and in a staggered fashion.

overhead view of lettuce

overhead view of lettuce

Next up on my to-do list is sowing some carrots. I hope to get that done before rain comes tomorrow afternoon. And then I need to get broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi and kale planted. The recommended planting dates here are from 3/15 to 4/15, but I generally wait until nearer the end of that time frame and let my plants get a little bigger before setting out. I seem to get less bird damage that way. I also want the soil temp to warm up to at least 50°F before setting these brassicas out. So I will see how things look next week.

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8 Responses to Planting Onions and Taters

  1. Daphne says:

    I’ve ordered from Dixondale too this year. They are supposed to be shipped next week. I’m not sure my ground will be frozen. I’m going to check to see how it is doing and probably call them about rescheduling the delivery.
    Daphne recently posted…The First Day of SpringMy Profile

  2. Margaret says:

    You are way ahead of us – onions aren’t supposed to go into the ground until mid-April although, like Daphne, I’m not sure if our ground will be ready yet.

    Those are some pretty huge onion transplants! There are no suppliers of onion seedlings north of the border, so if you want anything other than “red onions” & “white onions”, you have to grow our own.
    Margaret recently posted…Experimenting with SpinachMy Profile

  3. Michelle says:

    Dixondale does provide a generous bunch. This is the second year that I’ve ordered from them and I had plenty extra for growing scallions and spring onions both times. I set them out 4 inches apart last year and by the time the tops started to flop the onions were literally touching one another, shoulder to shoulder in a row. I hope they do as well this year for both of us!
    Michelle recently posted…Harvest Monday – March 30, 2015My Profile

  4. Susan Klein says:

    Hi Dave,
    I’m going to get my onions in tomorrow. I have a question for you. Last year I grew parsnips for the first time. I didn’t get them dug up before the ground was frozen. I didn’t cover them with any mulch either. This was my first year trying to grow them and I was surprised they grew. My friend was sick and I forgot all about them and before I knew it winter was upon us. Now I see some green foliage coming up that seems to be them! This is where I was planning to put the onions. Would you recommend leaving the parsnips in the ground to go to seed? Or, should I dig them and see how they taste?
    Thanks,
    Sue

    • Dave says:

      Hi Sue! I would dig those parsnips and see how they taste. I haven’t grown them, but I know they are supposed to taste even better after they have been through frosts and freezes.

      • Susan Klein says:

        Hi Dave,
        I dug the parsnips and they are delicious! They were very easy to grow too. I’ll be growing them again. Got the onions in too.
        Thanks,
        Sue

  5. Norma Chang says:

    My ground is still too soggy for any planting, and rain is in the forecast for most of the week, will be a while before anything gets planted out.
    Norma Chang recently posted…The Delacorte Music Clock at Central Park, NYCMy Profile

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