In this issue...
Featured Products
From Our Friends
Around the Farm
Cooking with Onions
Onion Q&A: Shipping Dates
Fun Onion Facts
All Your Questions Answered
About Dixondale Farms
Join Us on Facebook!
Affiliations
DGA logo


NG logo
Four Easy Steps to Great Onions

March 2014
frasiers3

 

  

 

We hope you're eagerly anticipating spring as much as we are. Our farm continues to buzz with the harvesting, packing, and shipping of our onion plants. Planning ahead and staying organized is key for keeping our farm running smoothly.

 

Planning is also a recipe for successful growing. So in this issue, we provide a simple four-step guide to help you have a fantastic growing season, whether you're a veteran grower or just starting your first garden.

 

Step 1. Soil Preparation and Plant Arrival

Soil Preparation

Choose a nice, sunny location for your onion patch. Next, test your soil with a kit or electronic tester (which you can easily purchase online or in a garden or feed store), or ask your local agricultural extension agent to test it for you. If your soil is acidic (if the pH is below 7.0), you'll need to mix in some limestone. If it's alkaline (pH above 7.0), add peat moss.

 

Before you plant, make sure the soil is as loose and crumbly as you can make it. If necessary, work in some compost to improve drainage.

Prepare the beds. Your onions will grow best on raised soil beds, or raised rows at least four inches high and 20 inches wide (see the chart in Step 2, below).

 

Plant Arrival

When your plants arrive, you don't have to plant them immediately -- just take them out of the box right away. Lay them out in a well-ventilated, cool area; don't put them in soil or water. The roots or tips may be a little dry, which is normal, but the plants are dormant and can live off the bulb for a short time. Just get them in the ground within two weeks.

 

Step 2. Planting

Be sure to plant your onions 4-6 weeks before the last estimated spring freeze. If you're not sure when that is, check this frost chart or ask your agricultural extension agent.  

 

Follow these steps, referring to the chart below:

 

  • Dig a trench four inches deep and four inches wide. Sprinkle one-half cup fertilizer per 10 linear feet of row, and cover the fertilizer with two inches of soil.
  • Plant the onions six inches from the edge of the trench on both sides. DO NOT plant the onions in the trench! Leave a two-inch margin between the onions and the outside edge of the bed.
  • Plant the onions one inch deep and no deeper, as this will inhibit their ability to bulb.
  • If you want all the onions to grow to maturity, space them four inches apart. If you prefer to harvest some earlier as green onions, space them two inches apart and pull every other onion during the growing season, leaving the rest to grow to maturity.
  • When planting several rows of onions, leave 16 inches between the outside edge of one bed, and the outside edge of the next. The spacing from the center of one fertilizer trench to the center of the next should be 36 inches.
  • Water from the bottom ONLY as soon as the plants are in the soil; top watering may cause fungal problems later on.

 Planting Diagram

 

Step 3. Plant Care 

Water

Water your onion plants immediately after planting, and continue watering them regularly. The soil must remain moist at all times, but not soaked. If you can feel moisture up to your knuckle when you stick your finger in the ground, the soil is moist enough. If the leaves develop a yellow tint, cut back on watering.

 

The bigger your onions grow, the greater their need for water. When the onion tops start falling over, stop watering them and allow the soil to dry out before harvesting.

 

Fertilize

Fertilize your plants three weeks after planting, and then repeat every 2-3 weeks until your onions start to bulb. Start with a fertilizer with the middle number higher than the other two, such as 10-20-10, for essential micro-nutrients that onions crave, such as magnesium, zinc, boron, copper, iron, manganese, and molybdenum. Then fertilize with ammonium sulfate (21-0-0), a good source of nitrogen to maximize growth and bulbing potential. Water the onions after every application, and stop fertilizing when the onions start to bulb. Bulbing is when the ground starts to crack at the base of the plant. This is the expanding bulb pushing the dirt aside. 

 

Weed

Keep your onions free of weeds so they don't rob the soil of important nutrients. Dixondale Farms Feed and Weed 10-20-10 is a great option to start with: it's a fertilizer and organic pre-emergent herbicide all in one. An excellent organic option is our All Natural Feed and Weed 2-5-3, which combines an all-natural humus fertilizer with the pre-emergent weed control power of corn gluten meal.

 

Step 4. Harvest and Store

Harvesting

Before harvesting, look over your onions. Onions will occasionally bolt  (produce a flower stalk), as a reaction to cold weather stress. If you find that some of your onions have bolted, they should be eaten right away. They can't be stored.

 

The rest are ready for harvest when the tops of the onions turn yellow or brown and fall over. Ideally, by then each plant will have 13 leaves, although some may have fewer. Pull the plants out in the morning on a sunny day, and set out them out to dry for a few days. To prevent sunscald, cover the bulb of one onion with the top of another.

 

Store

After drying, clip the roots at the base and clip the tops as well, leaving �-inch of the neck to seal and protect the interior. Then store the onions in a cool, dry place with good ventilation; hanging them in mesh netting or pantyhose is very effective.  

 

Beginning to End

As you can see, the process of growing your onions is straightforward, from your soil preparation on through harvest and storage. In between, make sure they get plenty to eat and drink, but don't overdo it. What you do with them after the end of the season is up to you, but we offer a great onion-based recipe every month for you to try!

 

Happy growing,

signature

Bruce "Onionman" Frasier

Featured Products 
Fertilizers

 

We offer numerous products to help you fertilize and protect your produce. All our fertilizers and feed-and-weed products come in four-pound bags, as well as our new resealable 12-pound bags.  

 

product of the monthStart your plants with a 10-20-10 fertilizer to help establish their root systems. We recommend Dixondale Farms Onion Special 10-20-10. Once your plants are established, feed them Ammonium Sulfate Fertilizer 21-0-0 to maximize growth and bulbing potential. This will help your onions generate more foliage and, therefore, more rings and larger bulbs.

 

OmegaGrow Keep the soil nutrient-rich for robust onions. OmegaGrow, our exclusive, all-organic foliar feed, has everything your onions need to grow big and strong, and is gentle on the environment. To feed and weed your plants at the same time, try Dixondale Farms Feed and Weed 10-20-10. This is a unique fertilizer and organic pre-emergent herbicide all in one.

 

For all-organic feeding and weeding, All Natural Feed and Weed 2-5-3 is ideal. This purely organic product combines an all-natural fertilizer with the pre-emergent weed control power of corn gluten meal.

From Our Friends 

Oklahoma Onions

  

A customer from Oklahoma writes,

 

 "Here are my uncles Charlie and Richard planting onions from Dixondale Farms. This past year we planted Candy, Candy Apple, and Texas 1015. We have planted onions for years, and there are no other onions that grow as well as these. We sell them at the farmer's market -- as many as we can grow."

  
Got some onion-related photos to share? Click here for submission tips. You just might see your photo in a future newsletter!
Around the Farm   
A Day in the Life of a Farming CEO

 

When Bruce isn't busy tending to onions, he's attending meetings about the business of growing onions.

 

He recently attended the National Council of Agricultural Employers meeting in Washington, D.C., where he spoke to members of Congress and their staffs about some pressing issues. Among other things, Bruce discussed the need for a "guest worker program" for agricultural employers, in which "guests" from other countries work in U.S. agricultural jobs that can't be filled by American citizens. He says the key benefit is that this program would provide more labor options for farmers and others. Bruce also raised serious concerns for the well-being of residents in border communities, as well as for the safety of workers who cross the Mexican border to work in the States.

 

Bruce also recently spoke to a group of Agriculture Broadcasters and Media about how Dixondale has grown over the past 20 years, and the changing roles of a CEO in today's agricultural industry. Highlights included the fact that Dixondale has moved from contract-growing just for farmers to marketing directly to consumers and retail outlets. This has resulted in higher production costs. Few companies can manage the expenses, so Dixondale has garnered a great majority of the business in the area. Bruce also noted that every aspect of running a farm has become more complex, including marketing, customer service, logistics, production, and technology.

 

As you can see, Bruce keeps himself busy traveling, speaking, and learning. It's an integral part of Dixondale's success.

Cooking with Onions
Creamy Parmesan Risotto
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup button mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup sweet white wine
  • 4 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped  

Saute the rice in the olive oil in a large pan for two minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the onion, mushrooms, bay leaf and wine. As the rice cooks, add the chicken broth one cup at a time, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid before adding more. Add a little more broth, if needed, before the rice is tender, a total of about 25 minutes. When the rice is cooked, just prior to serving, stir in the cheese and sprinkle with parsley. Serve right away. Serves 6.

 

Recipe courtesy of the National Onion Association. If you have a recipe you'd like us to print, email it to customerservice@dixondalefarms.com.

Q&A: Shipping Dates

 

Q.  When will you ship my onions?

 

A. If you order in advance, your onions will be shipped by a date established for your postal Zip Code, when it should be safe to plant them. Here's the shipping chart. Scroll down to either use the Zip Code search engine, or refer to the chart at the bottom of the page.

 

We provide this chart as a guideline on when you should plant your onions. However, we'll ship your order whenever you'd like us to. With this winter we're having, many customers are planning on planting later than usual, and we understand completely. If you want to change the planting date after placing your order, just contact us at least the Tuesday before your order is scheduled to be shipped.

Fun Onion Facts

 

Have you ever wondered how the Ailsa Craig onion got its name? It's named after an island ten miles off the west coast of Scotland in the Firth of Clyde. Apparently the onion was named after the picturesque 216-acre rock because it was developed and introduced by David Murray, the gardener for the Marquis of Ailsa, in 1887.

 

Besides its scenic beauty, the island of Ailsa Craig (which means "fairy rock" in Gaelic) is best known as a source of granite used to make stones for the sport of curling. As for the onion, it's best eaten fresh; it's not a storage type.

All Your Questions Answered 

 

We have answers to your frequently asked questions! Just click the link for information on when to order your onions and how to find your frost and freeze dates, as well as for tips on planting, caring, feeding, harvesting, and storing them.  

 

You can also print our electronic Planting Guide, or download a PDF version for easy reference.

 

And be sure to review our short videos, on topics ranging from bolting and fertilizing to how onion plants are harvested and how they deal with cold weather. 

About Dixondale Farms


As the largest and oldest onion plant farm in the U.S., Dixondale Farms offers a wide selection of top-quality, disease-free, ready-to-plant onion plants. To see our complete product line, request a catalog, or for growing tips and cultural information, visit our Web site.

 

Whether you're planting one bunch or thousands of acres, we're committed to your success. We've posted answers to frequently asked questions about growing onions on our FAQ page. You can also go to the Learn section of our Web site for growing guides. And of course, we're also available from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM CT at 877-367-1015, or e-mail us any time at customerservice@dixondalefarms.com.

Facebook Icon Join Us on Facebook!

 

Join the community of friends and growers on our Facebook page! You can connect with us and fellow growers to share stories, photos, recipes, and even weather information and other tips.

 

One of our long-time customers and Facebook friend recently wrote a wonderful blog about his Dixondale onion growing experiences.  He discusses the benefit of growing from our starter plants vs. growing bulbs, and includes photos of his "just opened" box of Dixondale plants! Click here to read the post.

e-mail:
phone: 877-367-1015