The year 2011 was my first attempt to grow a fall and winter garden. Having had trouble growing white bulbing onions on more than one occasion, I finally went to the internet to research the subject. Oh my, that was a mistake. I stumbled on a chart of alternative onions at Mother Earth News http://www.motherearthnews.com/Growing-Leeks-Shallots-Scallions.aspx that raised both eyebrows. I had grown the bunching onions, leeks and shallots in their chart but the Egyptian/Walking onions and Potato onions were new to me. I was immediately seized by the Had To Have It Syndrome which you gardeners will most certainly recognize.
I ordered the Egyptian and Potato onions from Ebay and planted them. I also planted a cup of red and white onion sets from the local nursery, some red cipollini onion seeds going by the name Flat of Italy, and some of the shallots I had grown in the spring. My garden started to look like I had one idea – onions. They were everywhere. Mostly because I planted them all over the garden to make it harder for onion pests to stamp an address on my onions.
Only after all these onions were planted did I happen to take a class on growing onions with Mary Puckett through the Extension Agent Office.
She stressed two things. Do not plant your onions too deep and water consistently. I suspect that I have planted my onions too deep but the idea of scratching the dirt away from so many onions has thus far proved overwhelming.
Ms. Puckett also had a neat tip about watering. If you want to know how much water your garden is getting from an overhead sprinkler, put an empty tuna fish can in the garden. Run the sprinkler for 5 minutes and check the depth of water in the can then calibrate how long you need to run your sprinkler to give the garden a good inch of water. Generally speaking, a gallon of water gives you an inch per square foot.
This was another one of those well-attended, worthwhile garden classes. In addition to the above, we learned about fertilizing, harvesting and curing onions. After completing the classroom portion of our instruction, Mary herded us out back to physically demonstrate how to plant the onions at the proper depth. Most of us toured the demonstration gardens and left with our very own ribbon-tied bouquet of Vidalia onions to plant. Like I needed any more onions in my plot of paradise. Sigh.