Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Operation Onion Planting Complete!

Halfway prepared raised bed

Yellow, white, and red oinons ready to be covered with soil. (No reason to pull up the volunteer garlic plants.)

My faithful gardening companion wasn't quite as helpful as when we planted the garlic together last fall.

On Saturday (as planned!) I prepared and then planted one of my 4'x8' raised beds with onion sets. For more about planting onions, click here to read my previously published article on Farmgirl Fare, "Onions In The Garden."

This bed was covered with a thick layer of sheep manure last winter which I worked into the soil with my hoe. This is some beautiful dirt, but it may be a bit too fertile. Instead of large and luscious onions, I may end up with lots of greens and little bulbs. We'll see. A good lesson either way.

And yes, the onions are planted much too close together, but I do that every year. This time I managed to cram in all but about four or five little onions. I'll be thinning and enjoying early spring onions soon!

Usually as soon as the onion sprouts emerge, I mulch between the rows with a thick layer of grass clippings, pretty much effectively smothering all but a few easily plucked out weeds for the entire growing season. But after doing some reading on using companion plants to help block out weeds (and then writing about it as a viable option in the above mentioned article), I figured maybe I should give it a try.

So after covering the onions with soil and tamping it down with my trusty hoe, I marked the five rows with bamboo stakes and then scattered four rows of seeds between the onion rows. Here's what I planted:

Standing on south side of plot looking north:

--Red Onions
--Beets, Detroit, (from Pinetree Garden Seeds '06, 63 days) left half & Bull's Blood (Baker's Creek Heirloom Seeds '05) right half
--Red, Yellow, & White Onions
--Beets, Lutz Winter Keeper (Pinetree '05, 80 days)
--White Onions
--Lettuce, Amish Deer Tongue (BC '04)
--Yellow Onions
--Lettuce, Dark Lollo Rossa (BC '04--didn't have great germination with these when started in containers so sowed thickly just to use them up)
--Yellow Onions

Using my watering can, I soaked the plot with several gallons of water. Then we had a heavy downpour Saturday night--perfect. The ground should be nice and wet.

This will be an interesting experiment. I figure the worst that will happen is that so many weeds will sprout along with the beets and lettuce that I will end up pulling them all up, feeding them to the chickens, and mulching with grass clippings as usual. But the best case scenario? Tender lettuce in a few weeks, baby beet greens not long after that, and three kinds of beets in a couple of months, all from space that usually goes unplanted.

© FarmgirlFare.com


  1. It will be fun watch the development & your garden log this year. I have more beds to create in the pasture that is the garden area. As I cannot decide exactly how the beds will be laid out, it may be another year before I get borders around them. That is how I started with blogs...looking for veg garden layout ideas. I like our cool climate, but it takes forever to get warm weather veg. as happy as they want. Thanks for visiting our garden too.

  2. Susan,

    Just wanted to let you know this blog is on my daily hit list.

    Kevin -- Master Garden Spectator

  3. So too-fertile soil makes for poor onions? In that case, I should be in great shape with my red clay. ;-)

    Seriously, it seems as though red clay can devour tons of compost without even blinking an eye. You work and you work and...you still have red clay. It defies physics.

    Are those Lutz Winter Keeper beets nice? I've never tried that variety.

  4. Following your blog from Holland!
    Please, could you tell us more about raised beds? I'm would like to make them, but am not sure how...

  5. I really enjoy your blog, and it's a huge help in a beginner's gardening adventures! A question, how often do you water your veggies with manure tea? Your blog is the first read of my day.

  6. Hi P's Gardener,
    It can be so difficult deciding how to lay out a permanent garden. I've been known to agonize for hours over what to plant in each raised bed!

    Oh I do envy your cool climate. Besides not being a warm weather person in general, I have found that it is so much easier to "warm plants up" than to cool them down. I once read about a woman who was such a serious gardener (and so determined to win over the blazing sun) that she literally built a 2-acre covered garden. That's my kind of gal!

    Hi Kevin,
    And yet another title added after his name. : )

    Hi Jamie,
    Oh, I feel for you and your red clay soil. The very first time I tried to create a little garden plot on my own I made the mistake of doing it in the yard of a rental house that was made of solid clay. Talk about a challenge. Have you tried mixing in a whole bunch of sand into the soil? That might help open it up some.

    Re Lutz Winter Keeper beets. Um, besides the Bull's Blood beets (which I know by their distinctive purple leaves), I always seem to lose track of which beets are which in the garden (reason #74 for starting this blog journal!). I'll do better this year, really. And then I will report back to you. I also am looking forward to growing some golden beets. The color in the seed catalogs just looks divine.

    Hi Eveline,
    Welcome to my garden! I will definitely write about raised beds in the very near future. In the meantime, did you read my review of The Vegetable Gardener's Bible? He is all for raised beds and gives tons of information about starting them. Don't know if you can find a copy in Holland, but it might be worth a try. In my opinion, raised beds are definitely the way to go.

    Hi Anonymous,
    Welcome to the garden! How often do I water my veggies with manure tea? Good question. I have been using a diluted llama pellet manure tea every couple of days on the seedlings that are in flats and individual containers. Before I bought the llamas last fall, I always made sheep manure tea and usually diluted it, too. This also assures that you aren't over-fertilizing the plants.

    In the garden and greenhouse beds, many of the plants are mulched with llama pellets or a mixture of hay/sheep manure from the barn, so I don't use manure tea on them. This is actually one of the best things I do in the garden--the mulch keeps weeds from growing and the plants basically get a "slow release" totally natural fertilizer every time it rains or I water them.

    Hope this helps. Feel free to keep the questions coming. So glad you're enjoying my new blog! : )


March 2013 update: My apologies for the inconvenience - I know word verification is a pain - but I've had to turn it on to help stop the ridiculous number of anonymous spam comments I've been getting every day. Thanks for your understanding.

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