Gardening Articles


The usual spring-sown, summer-grown bulb onions and scallions only work with abundant irrigation. But the water-short, water-wise gardener can still supply the kitchen with onions or onion substitutes year-round. Leeks take care of November through early April. Overwintered bulb onions handle the rest of

the year. Scallions may also be harvested during winter. _Sowing date:_ Started too soon, overwintered or short-day bulbing onions (and sweet scallions) will bolt and form seed instead of bulbing. Started too late they'll be too small and possibly not hardy enough to survive winter. About August 15 at Elkton I sow thickly in a well-watered and very fertile nursery bed. If you have more than one nursery row, separate them about by 12 inches. Those who miss this window of opportunity can start transplants in early October and cover with a cloche immediately after germination, to accelerate seedling growth during fall and early winter. Start scallions in a nursery just like overwintered onions, but earlier so they're large enough for the table during winter, I sow them about mid-July. _Spacing:_ When seedlings are about pencil thick (December/January for overwintering bulb onions), transplant them about 4 or 5 inches apart in a single row with a couple of feet of elbow room on either side. I've found I get the best growth and largest bulbs if they follow potatoes. After the potatoes are dug in early October I immediately fertilize the area heavily and till, preparing the onion bed. Klamath Basin farmers usually grow a similar rotation: hay, potatoes, onions. Transplant scallions in October with the fall rains, about 1 inch apart in rows at least 2 feet apart. _Irrigation:_ Not necessary. However, side-dressing the transplants will result in much larger bulbs or scallions. Scallions will bolt in April; the bulbers go tops-down and begin drying down as the soil naturally dries out. _Varieties:_ I prefer the sweet and tender Lisbon (TSC) for scallions. For overwintered bulb onions, grow very mild but poorly keeping Walla Walla Sweet (JSS), Buffalo (TSC), a better keeper, or whatever Territorial is selling at present.

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