October 2015
  
The 2016 onion growing season is almost here! Our catalog is at the printer, the fields are ready to grow your transplants, and we'll be shipping before you know it.
 
As you may remember, last year Mother Nature threw some unexpected challenges to gardeners and farmers alike. While we can't control the weather, we have learned a lot of tricks for dealing with it, at least as far as growing onions goes.
 
For the four keys to growing your best onions yet, no matter what Mother Nature sends your way, read on.
 
Enjoy autumn!
 
Bruce & Jeanie
Four Keys to Onion Growing Success
Location
Full sun and good soil drainage are essential, so choose a location that gets plenty of direct sun. Orient the onion beds in the direction of the prevailing winds, so natural air circulation will keep the onion leaves dry. This helps protect the plants from fungal disease.
 
Soil Preparation
The best soil pH range for onions is between 6.2 and 6.8. Your agricultural extension service can test your soil for you, or you can buy a home test kit at your local garden center. If your soil is too acidic (pH below 6.2), mix in ground limestone, available at your garden center. If it's too alkaline (pH above 6.8), add peat moss.
 
Onions grow best on raised beds or raised rows at least 4 inches high and 20 inches wide. The soil should be loose and crumbly. If it's compacted, work in some compost to improve aeration and drainage.
 
Water
Onions need to be watered in when they get planted. They require about 20 to 22 inches of water per season to produce large bulbs. If they don't get as much water, they will still produce bulbs but won't get as big. Stop watering when the tops begin to fall over.

Water is key to completion of two growing cycles - when the plant takes up nutrients, and when the nutrients are converted to carbohydrates.

I like to use the "knuckle rule" to check the soil's moisture level. Stick your finger in the ground up to your middle knuckle, and if you don't find any moisture, water the plants thoroughly. This method of measuring soil moisture can be used throughout the growing process.

Always water your onion plants from below, rather than overhead. Overhead watering dampens the leaves and makes them vulnerable to fungus. It can also muddy the soil. Drip irrigation at the roots is an effective watering method, because it slowly provides water directly to the roots, keeping the leaves dry. Simple, reasonably priced drip irrigation kits are available at home supply stores.

Protection from the Start
Give your onions essential micronutrients to help them establish strong root systems at planting time with our 10-20-10 fertilizer. Regular applications of fungicide at the beginning of the growing process and every 10-14 days are essential to ward off diseases like downy mildew, white tip, botrytis, and other fungal issues. If you wait until problems appear, it's too late to treat them. An organic option is available as well. Keep weeds from invading your garden with  Treflan Granules
 
Visit our   Growing Aids page for more options
 
Maximum Onions
Onion plants have specific needs, which are easy to meet with a little planning. When you order your onion plants, take stock to ensure you have the necessary fertilizers and fungicide treatments, so you won't be caught short when the time comes to apply them. When your onions get what's best for them at planting time and throughout their growing process, they should thrive.
Remembering Sissy Martin, 1924-2015
We're sad to share with you that Jeanie's mother, Mary Louise McClendon Martin, passed away on September 26, 2015, surrounded by her loving family. "Sissy," as she was fondly known, was a native of Carrizo Springs, born here on August 4, 1924. She graduated Carrizo Springs High in 1941, then attended the University of Texas, where she acquired a BA in English. She returned to Carrizo Springs in 1948 after marrying Jeanie's father, Wallace, where they remained to raise their family and continue to grow Dixondale Farms. At the time of her death, she and Wallace had been married an amazing 70 years.
 
Sissy was a woman of strong faith and always taught her family the value of being involved in church and community. She was the first woman president of the Carrizo Springs School Board, as well as president of various organizations such as United Methodist Women, Christian Women's Club, and CSHS Band Boosters. She was a member of the Carrizo Springs Performing Arts Association, Eastern Star, and the Carrizo Springs Women's Golf Club. Sissy was born into a family of musicians and loved singing and playing the piano for church, Eastern Star, the nursing home, and performing arts functions. During years when farming was rough, Sissy went to work as a teacher in the Carrizo Springs School District to help provide for her family. She loved her students and especially loved teaching high school English. 
 
Sissy was part of the soul of Dixondale Farms, and the matriarch of our family. She will be sorely missed.
Spotlight on Longtime Customers
This month, we spotlight longtime customer Gwenn Leveque, of Port Wing, Wisconsin. Gwenn grows Long Day onions, including signature varieties like the enormous Ailsa Craig, Yellow Spanish, and Red River. She's been a loyal customer since 1998. 
 
 

Take a look at these huge onions! Gwenn, thank you for your support, and for sharing the photos of your fabulous onion crop with us!
Around the Farm
Our Hard-working Customer Service Staff
Every fall, we introduce our hard-working customer service representatives to you. Here they are in all their glory!
 
 
Back Row: Emily Lord, Abigail Samaniego, Janice Carrillo, Sydney Jaime, Melissa Romo, Alicia Diaz, and Rose Hernandez

Front Row: Bonnie Hernandez and Mary Caddell
 
Our Customer Service Staff wants you to know, "We always look forward to the beginning of a new year, and to hearing how your onions did during the past season. We'll work very hard to make sure all your orders are in and ready to ship the week you've requested. We wish you a great onion growing season!"
From Our Friends
Bill Slack of Colfax, CA sends this photo and tells us, " That is my granddaughter, Chloe Slack. The yellow onions are Highlander Thought you would like to know that your starts have done very well here in the Sierra Nevada foothills.  

"We are at the 2,200 foot level and planted Candy, Highlander, and Red Candy in January.  I'm very pleased with my onions, and everybody that comes in the garden is impressed."
 


Visiting a Fair or Festival?
Share Your Onion Award Photos!
There are many state, county, and local fairs held in the fall. Are you planning to attend one?  
 
If you are, please take some of your Dixondale onions and a camera with you, in case you enter a competition. We would love to publish photos of you and your prize-winning onions in an upcoming newsletter.
Cooking with Onions

Baked Onions

  • 2 large yellow or white onions, peeled
  • 2 tablespoon tomato juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika

Cut onions in half crosswise and place, cut side up, in a baking dish. Combine remaining ingredients in saucepan on low until butter is melted; stir well. Pour over center of each onion half and bake at 350 degrees for one hour.


Recipe courtesy of Dixondale Farms; click here for more delicious recipes. If you have an onion recipe you'd like us to print, email it to customerservice@dixondalefarms.com.
Q & A: Onion  Transplants  vs.  Sets
Q. What is the difference between an onion transplant and a set?     

A. Onion transplants are plants that are started by commercial growers as seeds in winter, pulled when they have four or five leaves, and shipped at the appropriate time for planting. That's how we operate. The seeds can be started in a greenhouse or are field-grown by onion plant growers in southern states.

Onion sets are produced by commercial growers by planting seeds and letting the onions produce small bulbs. The bulbs are stored over winter, and sold to gardeners to plant in their gardens in spring. Almost all onions sold as sets are extremely Long Day varieties, and when planted in short- or intermediate-day areas, they will produce only green onions.

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 Facebook, on topics ranging from fertilizing and dealing with cold weather, to how onion plants are harvested. You may need a Facebook account to view the videos.
Fun Onion Facts
The Cajuns of Louisiana take their food seriously. They consider onions a part of a "Holy Trinity" consisting of onions, celery, and bell peppers. As most are dedicated Catholics, this is considered a respectful label for the dish, which is part of a tradition that includes meals consisting of three pots. One pot contains the main dish, the other rice or a similar cereal crop, and the third a spicy mix of seasonal vegetables, often the "Holy Trinity." 
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. We're also available from 8:15 AM to 5:00 PM CT at 877-367-1015, or e-mail us at customerservice@dixondalefarms.com.

 

Whether you're planting one bunch or thousands of acres, we're committed to your success.

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