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hay    Posted 09-26-2003 at 05:20:46       [Reply]  [No Email]
does anyone have any growing tips for onions in east texas? i started some onion seed (texas grano 502) and most came up quickley, but then a lot of the sprouts started dying back before i could transplant them. this is the first year i ever started from seed. always just bought plants/sets before. i transplanted the remaining good sprouts in the garden last evening. hope they do well. any help would be greatly appreciated.

Ron,Ar    Posted 09-26-2003 at 13:54:46       [Reply]  [No Email]
Call,write or e-mail Texas AM, they should have all the answers you need about those onions. JMHO-plant 501's instead

hay    Posted 09-27-2003 at 03:25:35       [Reply]  [No Email]
thanx, but been there, done that. i was looking for some "backwoods country wisdom" that others might have had with onions. the state universities and "factory" farmers don't seem to have much real "country wisdom". BTW, never heard of "501" except for levi jeans.

Tom A    Posted 09-29-2003 at 04:23:21       [Reply]  [No Email]

No wisdom here, but I'll tell you what I do here in western Maryland. I've grown onions here for quite a few years, but only started growing from seed about 4-5 years ago so I'm still learning.

Every year I plant one or two of my "old reliable" varieties, along with one or two "new to me" varieties. Seems that few varieties are productive every year, depending on the a rainy cool year one will do better, in a hot drought another so I hedge my bets. You need to watch for "day length" of varieties, as that is a biggy if you want to produce big bulbs.

I start my seed in shallow plastic flats (about 1.5" of soil deep) in seed starter mix. I have tried mixing my own, but it never seems to do as well. I plant them about 3/4 or 1 inch apart in little rows, with about 1-2" between rows in the flat. I can get about 100 seeds per flat this way. Onions grow slow (not like tomatoes) so I start them early...end of January or early February here. I keep em good and damp til they sprout in about a week. I use flourescent grow lights, and always keep them as close to the plants as I can get, maybe an inch or two. Have to move them as the plants grow.

Once the weather stabilizes a little, so there aren't hard freezes at night, I move the plants (now maybe 10 or 12 inches high) to my cold frame. About once a week I'll fertilize with a really really watered-down mix of miracle grow...don't want to give them too much at this stage, but don't want to let them die either. If they're "searching" for food, they'll build a huge root system, which lets them really take off when they get into the garden.

Once the soil in the garden can be worked, I plant. I use a middlebuster plow as my garden is very long and narrow, and lay out the rows. I plant the plants (usually very very strong roots by then!) about 6" apart in rows. I am usually really good about weeding for the first month or two and then get overwhelmed, but the better you can weed them the bigger they'll get.

that's what I do. Hope there's something helpful in this mess!

Tom A

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