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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.