Sunday, January 10, 2010

Prepping for onions

With all the talk of GMO foods and the constant inflation of our money supply, I have a serious desire to start growing our own produce. I've dabbled with gardening in the past, mostly ornamentals, but I have tried my hand at vegetables, fruits and herbs in the past with minor success. I usually plant everything in my flower beds around the house or in pots, and I have no problem getting seeds to germinate, but once the plant has developed and becomes more hardy, I tend to lose things in June when the temperatures start to rise above 90.

At Christmas I sat down and talked to my mother-in-law about starting a real vegetable garden especially now that she is retiring hers. She recommended starting small with something like 3' x 3', and that I'm welcome to take her cinder blocks to use as a border.

Then last week when I stopped by the local feed store to get dog food, a couple of local old timers were hanging out to chat and keep out of the cold, so I asked for their advice. As a newbie gardener, what would be an easy crop to grow? Overwhelmingly, they responded "onions".

In Texas, onions are planted in January and are considered a short day crop since the amount of sunlight required for bulb development is less than required for long day varieties, and the length of daylight in the south has less variation than lengths in the north.

Over the next couple of weeks I will be prepping the garden area. I started a compost pile a couple of years ago and have just let it set while I continue to add materials on top, so I will be checking the lower layers for soil to add to the vegetable bed. I will also head down to my mother-in-law's to take some of the cinder blocks off her hands and also get some horse manure for a fertilizer. Once I have the materials, I will need to pick a spot for the garden, and I am thinking the northwest corner of the yard will be best since it has the most direct sunlight available. We do have a problem with stickers (sand burrs), so this is something else I need to tackle and will be a good blog entry.

Since I didn't plan for this sooner, I'm hoping the ground will be nutrient rich enough without my having fertilized it in the fall. I should have weeded the area and applied a high phosphorus (10-20-10) fertilizer. Instead, I'm planning to have hubby do a controlled burn of the grass in the area (since the sand burrs and other weeds are so out of control) to kill the weeds, then I'll till the area by hand and mix the soil with some of the compost soil. The soil on our property is a mixture of sand and clay, so it should do well on it's own to support the onions, but given I've never planted anything like this before I think the compost soil will only help things further.

As for the onions I will be planting, here is what I ordered:

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