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Tag Archives: Vegetable Gardening In Dallas

Confused ?


Confused by the weather this year?  One minute you are wearing your winter clothes and the next day it’s almost 90 degrees, with it feels like the same amount of humidity.  Then Dallas suffered through a severe drought, only to be drowned by flash floods.  Even the dogs and cats can’t decide whether to shed their winter coats or curl up into a warm ball in their beds. — And just think about the plants.  If we are having difficulty adjusting, what must they “feel.”

Many of our native plants have evolved to handle Texas’ “if-you-don’t-like-the-weather, just-wait-a-minute” fluctuations.  However this year’s drastic changes in temperature and moisture have been particularly hard on onions.  Jim Dempsey reported that after the last hard freeze, at least one fourth of the Demonstration Garden’s onions were lost.  Now many onions are beginning to bolt (i.e. go to seed).  Other vegetable gardeners throughout Dallas are reporting that more than the usual numbers of their onions are bolting.  Why is this happening?


An Onion in Full Bolt!

An Onion in Full Bolt!

According to Dixondale Onion Farm ( in Carrizo Springs, Texas, there are several causes for onions bolting.  Bolting in onions is a survival mechanism in response to stress.  The onion “thinks” it is dying and sends up a flower stalk in order to reproduce to insure its survival into the next generation.  Temperature fluctuations and cold weather stress are the most common cause of this.  Dixondale’s website says that “when the temperature is below 45 degrees Fahrenheit for a prolonged period, the plant becomes dormant. When the temperature rises, the plant grows. If cold weather returns, the plant goes dormant again, and with returning warmth, it will grow again. Two or more dormant/growth cycles will likely result in bolting.”  This certainly sounds like our winter/spring!!

Other factors that contribute to bolting in onions are: (1) Too loose a soil:  if onion roots are too disturbed, the onion may react by thinking that it is starving and begin to prematurely go to seed; and (2) Over-fertilization which results in the onion’s growing too quickly.  Though both of these causes may be prevented by correct onion planting practices, there isn’t much that can be done about the weather.

If your onions are bolting however, don’t despair.  Though bolted onions have stopped growing and cannot be stored for a long period of time, they are perfectly edible.  So go ahead, pick them, and enjoy them in your salads, soups and casseroles.  Yum,,,,,,,,,,


Onions, onions, onions here.

Picture by Starla

More About February Garden Chores

Garden chores never really stop just because it’s winter.  Even though the garden “sleeps” during these colder months, there’s always something to do – trimming frost-bitten plants, removing those that have been winter-killed, composting, mulching – the list of chores go on.  For the volunteers at the Demonstration Garden, January and February have us looking forward to the Spring garden – what should we plant, when is the best time to plant, what do we need to do to get ready? 

 ILPS Students Preparing Vegetable Beds For Spring

Independence Life Preparatory School students Myron and Bradley worked in one of the many raised beds to thin out fava beans which they planted a month ago.  Ever the recyclers, rather than composting, they potted up the 12 plants they removed for transplanting.  Myron added a wheelbarrow load of compost, then, he & Bradley prepped the entire 4’x 12′ raised bed for planting bush beans next month.   

Bradley couldn’t think of a better place to take a break than to sit on the edge of the raised bed he’d so carefully tended.  On a beautiful sunny February day, who could ask for more?

Student Helper At The Demonstration Garden on Joe Field Road


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