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Beginnings

The dirt’s flying at the new Rainctcher’s Garden-into the new raised vegetable beds on the north field.

Straight rows of onions stand like little soldiers, the first vegetables planted at the new garden. We planted one bunch each of 1015y (yellow) and Southern Belle Red (red). Potatoes are next!

 Our First Onions Planted at The Raincatcher's Garden!

Our First Onions Planted at The Raincatcher’s Garden!

The top 12 inches of the beds have been filled with a generous gift of Vegetable Garden Mix from Living Earth Technology, made of compost, sandy loam, aged mulch, and other ingredients.  We topped it off with some of our homemade compost.

Living Earth, Sarah, and Judy!

Living Earth, Sarah, Tim, and Judy!

Last week the first of our trees, an urban forest demonstration was planted. Expect to see more about berm building and tree planting next week.

Ginko Tree Planted February 19, 2015

Ginkgo Tree Planted February 19, 2015

Pictures by Starla

Writing taken from Jim and Elizabeth emails

Onion Peelings here.

Onion Recipe

Ann

 

 

The Lowly Onion

Because of their circle within a circle anatomy, the Egyptians considered them to be the symbol of eternal life, and they buried them along with their dead.  The Greeks, on the other hand, used them to increase the strength and endurance of their athletes before the Olympic Games.  Throughout the ages they have served as food and medicine for both the poor and wealthy.  What is this ancient vegetable?  The lowly onion, of course.

Above: Dallas County Master Gardeners-Cindy, Tim, and Linda with our onions harvested in 2013

Above: Dallas County Master Gardeners-Cindy, Tim, and Linda with our onions harvested in 2013

Onions (Allium cepa or bulb onions) are thought to have first originated in Central Asia or perhaps Iran and Pakistan at least 5000 years ago.  Our earliest ancestors probably ate wild onions and gradually started cultivating and domesticating them since onions are portable, easy to grow, prevent thirst, and could be dried for times when food was scarce.  To the Romans, the onions’ medicinal qualities included to cure vision, induce sleep, and heal mouth sores, dog bites, toothaches, dysentery, and lumbago.  In the Middle Ages their antiseptic qualities were thought to cure snake bites, alleviate headaches and prevent hair loss.  In North America, despite the abundance of wild onions consumed by Native Americans, the Pilgrims in 1648 planted bulb onions as soon as the ground could be cleared.

Today it is estimated that the per capita consumption of onions in the United States is over 20 pounds a year.  The onion is also the official state vegetable of Texas.    If you want to grow onions in North Texas, Jan. 1-Feb. 15 is the time to plant them.  Onion varieties are generally divided into three major categories:  long day, short day and intermediate day onions.  Dixondale Onion Farm in Carrizo Springs, TX, stresses that when selecting onion varieties “the size of the onion bulb is dependent upon the number and size of the green leaves or tops at the time of bulbing.  For each leaf, there will be a ring of onion.  The larger the leaf, the larger the ring will be when the carbohydrates from the leaves are transferred to the rings of the bulb.  The triggering of this transfer or bulbing is dependent upon day length and temperature and not the size or age of the plants.  When selecting your onion varieties, remember that the further north you are, the more hours of daylight you have during the summer.”  The onions that can be grown in Dallas County are those varieties found in the short day and intermediate day category.  This, unfortunately, eliminates some of the “specialty” onions found in some seed catalogues; however there are still white, red and yellow onions that do well in here.  Most garden centers carry onion slips that are selected for our area or go to the Aggie-Horticulture website  to see a list of recommended varieties.

Onions prefer a loose, well drained soil and should be planted 4-6 weeks before the last spring freeze.  To grow larger onions, they can be fertilized with a synthetic or organic fertilizer that has a larger middle number, such as 10-20-10 when they are first planted.  After the original planting, they can be fertilized with ammonium fertilizer (21-0-0) in alkaline soils or calcium nitrate (15.5-0-0) in acidic soils about every 2-3 weeks, if desired.  Stop fertilizing once the onions start to bulb.

Above: Onions planted at The Demonstration Garden on Joe Field Road in 2014.

Above: Onions planted at The Demonstration Garden on Joe Field Road in 2014.

Plant the onions slips one inch deep and no deeper as their ability to form a bulb will be compromised.  Onions grown to maturity should be planted about 4 inches apart; however, if green onions are desired, the onion slips can be planted about 2 inches apart and every other one pulled for green onions.  Water thoroughly and regularly until the tops turn brown or yellow and fall over, then cut back on water.  At this point a fully mature onion should have about 13 leaves.

When they are harvested, dry them thoroughly for several days to avoid problems with rot.  The entire neck (where the onion meets the bulb) should be dry and not “slip.”  Once the onions are dry, clip the roots and clip the top to 1 inch.  Store them in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location if not consumed right away.  Any onion that shows signs of rot should be removed immediately.  In general, according to Dixondale, sweeter tasting onions do not store as long as the more pungent types.

So, plant yourself some onions—and Bon appetite !!

Carolyn

More about onions click here and for onion recipes click here!

Vegetable Planting in January

1015Y  Texas SuperSweet Onions planted January 8, At The Demonstration Garden

Brrr…it has been cold in Dallas, Texas since our snowy Christmas day.  My thoughts have not been about digging  in the garden.  Sitting by the fireplace with a hot cup of tea and garden catalogs spread at my feet seem right for January.

The gardening calendar has other thoughts.   Potatoes and onions are ready to be planted now!  Jim and Hans  planted our onion sets last week.  Jim likes to get an early start on onions and plants them just as soon as he can find them in Dallas garden centers. 

 To grow fist size onions, you need to select the right variety, plant between January 1st and February 15th, and maintain optimum moisture and fertility. We like the  famous 1015Y  Texas SuperSweet.  Other recommendations from Texas A&M include :  Bermuda, Southern Belle, White Granex, Yellow Granex and Burgundy.

Plant your onion sets about 4 inches apart in raised furrows.  Keep them moist not wet.  At the Demonstration Garden we  add  compost to provide the nutrients onions crave. 

And what’s the payoff for getting outside in January  to plant onions?   Remember the sweet and savory onion tarts we made last May! 

Ann

Next week we will be plant potatoes, and seeds of beets, lettuce, carrots, and radishes.

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