26 June 2011


Onions and radishes are two vegetables that I cannot grow well, (except for one year.) School kids can grow radishes, but I can't. Every year I try and every year the result is a row of plants with red roots but no radishes.

This year's onion crop was ready for harvesting this weekend, when the onion tops stopped growing and wilted over. The largest "none-nion" was the size of a quarter (2 cm).

Several years of purchasing onion sets and planting in different conditions around the yard gave the same paltry results. Two years ago I bought some red onion plants at a local high school booster club spring plant sale. I grew in with the front flower garden and produced respectable onions, so I tried planting red onions from seed last year. I bought Red Burgundy, an heirloom onion that is a short day (100 days) variety suitable for southern states. They were planted in the same successful spot, but the largest onion was a ping-pong ball size (3 cm). Most were marbles.

This year, I started the seeds earlier, and planted earlier, thinking the hot weather previously did them in. They matured earlier and were smaller. It was suggested that I try direct sowing onion seeds in the fall, so I will try something new. How do the farmers at the farmers market do it?

I am about to give up on "30-day" radishes, or give seeds to the local school children to grow for me.

For The Record:
  • Rich soil amended with humus and peat
  • Full sun
  • Organic slow-release fertilizer
  • No pests or diseases

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: pink cosmos, rudbeckia, small poppy, liatris, cleome, cosmos, geranium, nicotiana, calendula, echinachea,
    daylily, salvia, daisy, spiderwort, loosestrife, bachelor buttons
  • Harvested: 14 onions, red leaf lettuce, red romain lettuce


Cherry Lane said...
I see I'm not the only one with quarter-sized onions. That's exactly like what my red onions looked like last year. If you find out the secret, please share!
Swimray said...
I am so glad you spoke up and glad to find that I am not the only one. I will keep trying things until I get onions to do me proud
Anonymous said...
i bet they taste just as good as the big ones.
tangledbranches said...
Onions and radishes are tricky, I think, because they're so finely tuned to seasons. For what it's worth, Johnny's Selected Seeds lists for each onion variety a range of latitudes at which it can be successfully grown. We're kind of stuck in the middle here in Virginia, not far north enough for the very long-day types and not far south enough for the very short-day types.

Radishes, I'm told, used to be grouped into spring, summer and fall varieties, but very few seed purveyors provide that information any more. I think the days-to-maturity is mostly bunk - it depends so much on the weather and season. My earliest planting this year took almost 2 months from seed-sowing to nice round red radishes. And this year I hope to actually plant some fall radishes instead of just thinking about it. :-)
Swimray said...
My Cherry Belle radishes took 2 months this spring too ... to go to seed. Someone suggested icicle radishes. Maybe I can try a fall crop this year, too. I am usually too "gardened out" by the time fall comes around to plant anything but bulbs, which sometimes don't get planted until December.