March 2016
 
  
Want to add some easy-to-grow onion cousins to your garden? Try some leeks! They're frost tolerant, and can be grown almost any time of the year because they aren't dependent on daylength the way onions are.
 
Leeks add beauty to the garden,  and  don't take up much space. The tasty greens and white stems will enhance everything from soups and sides to entrees. In fact, this month's recipe is for a delicious leek dip.  Best of all, you'll have fresh leeks at a fraction of the cost of supermarket varieties. 
 
Read on to find out how easy it is to get started!
 
A Little About Leeks
Rather than produce bulbs, leeks store their energy in thick stems. Their leaves tend to grow in a tight cluster rather than spread out, making for an efficient, space-saving plant. They thrive in cool weather, and can survive freezes down to 5 ° F! 

What We Offer
Lancelot leeks are the easiest leeks to grow, and the most widely adaptable variety you can get. That's why they're the only leeks we provide. Each bunch of leeks contains approximately 60 plants. If that's too many, we also offer leeks by the half bunch (25 plants). All are available now through mid-May, and are shipped with a free growing guide.
 
When Your Plants Arrive
Remove the leeks from the box immediately. Don't put them in soil or water before planting; keep them cool and dry until you can plant. They'll be fine for up to 2-3 weeks because they're dormant and living off the food reserves in their stems.
 
Soil Preparation
Leeks grow best in direct sunlight, in temperatures ranging from  55°-75° F. Plant them in  well-drained soil that is neither too acid nor too alkaline. Work a balanced fertilizer (10-20-10) and a  pre-emergent herbicide  into the soil before planting

Planting
Using the handle of a hoe, poke holes in the soil 6-8 inches deep,  4-6 inches apart, in rows 6-12 inches apart.  Place the plants one to a hole, so the youngest leaf protrudes just above the soil surface.

Then water gently with a sprinkler. This will settle the soil in the hole around the roots at the bottom, and provide automatic blanching for the lower part of the stem. Blanching refers to mounding the soil around the plant shaft to keep it white. 
 
After you plant the leeks, mulch the bed with straw or a similar organic material to help the soil retain moisture. As your leeks grow, continue to toss soil up on the shaft to protect it and keep it a bright white.
 
Fertilization and Watering
Leeks need to be kept moist, just like onions. They require an inch of water per week for best results; any less, and you're likely to end up with tough leeks. They also need a good deal of nitrogen
 
Harvest
When mature, leeks measure about an inch thick, but you can pull younger leeks to eat them like green onions. They're easiest to pull when the soil is moist; if they resist, use a potato fork to loosen the soil, and then grasp the base of the leek and gently pull upward.  Wash the stems thoroughly after harvest, and then let them cool down in th e  refrigerator before use. Put them in plastic bags or re-sealable containers to keep them from drying out.
 
Storage
You can keep fresh leeks in your refrigerator's crisper drawer for up to a week. You can also freeze them for up to three months. Just add the frozen leeks to your recipe as you're cooking; there's no need to thaw them. 
 
For handy tips on the best way to freeze leeks, visit this page   
 
Add Some Leeks to Your Life!
Leeks don't need much room in the garden, they're hardy, and they provide delicious produce in return for a little TLC. You can use them in many dishes, though they're probably best known for the Scottish dish cock-a-leekie soup, where they take center stage with chicken, barley, and thyme. But you can also cook them like asparagus or roast them in your oven . Enjoy!

Happy gardening,
Jeanie and Bruce
The Highlander Is a Big Hit!
We've had great reviews for this long-day variety we introduced in 2014!  Highlanders are yellow onions with slightly flat, globe-shaped bulbs that are lighter in color than most long-day varieties, but the bulbs are very firm, with thin necks.
 

Highlander is the main variety of onion planted by large onion farmers in the northeastern United States for early marketing. Since it's an extra-early maturing variety, it can be planted in all the intermediate-day areas as well as the long-day areas. It will store up to four months, and with its tight, thin neck, it's easy to cure. In addition, Highlander is resistant to botrytis and downy mildew, the two most common diseases in onions.
 
Here's a note from one of our successful Highlander growers,  Hudson England :
 
"The Highlander onion is storing very well. We pulled our onions in late August, five months ago, and they look better than what we find at the grocery store! They average about a pound each in weight. We cut up six to see how they were storing, and to freeze them in bags so my wife can just pull out a bag from the freezer when she is cooking. We will cut up more in a few weeks. We also use them fresh for cooking...  Thanks!"
 
Our pleasure, Hudson. Folks, we're eager to hear about your experiences with all our onion varieties. You can add your reviews to the individual onion pages on our Web site.
Products for Healthy Onions
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 re-sealable 12-pound bags. 

 

product of the month Start your plants with a 10-20-10 fertilizer to help establish their root systems. We recommend using Dixondale Farms Onion Special 10-20-10 first. 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.

 

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.

 

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.
 
For 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.
 
Around the Farm
Our Staff's Onion Garden
Several of our staff members started a little onion garden in a raised bed in December. Since then they've tended it carefully, taking notes on its progress. As our Emily Lord (pictured here) reports, the plants are doing very well. 

"The onion plants that we planted back in December have really taken off in the past few weeks! With this season's unusually warm weather, the plants have been busy sprouting many new leaves.

"We have stayed on top of watering, and making sure the onion plants receive a good source of nitrogen by applying ammonium sulfate

"This has been a great hands-on experience for us so far, and we look forward to continuing to expand our knowledge so that we can better assist our customers with their growing needs!"
      
From Our Friends
Susan of Gladwin, MI has been a customer since 2010. "We have been ordering and growing your onions for years. In the photo, my eight-year-old son Harvey is selling our Ailsa Craig onions. He has a produce stand every summer, and sells these nice Texas onions at the stand. The onions were 14 inches in diameter!"
  


Send Us Your Photos
We enjoy receiving photos from our customers, including those of award-winning Dixondale onions. We'd love to publish yours in an upcoming newsletter. Just mail your onion photos to  customerservice@dixondalefarms.com along with a description and your city. You may see one or more of your photos in a future newsletter, or even in our print catalog next year!
Cooking with Leeks
Leek Dip
  • 3/4 cup chopped leeks
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup creamy salad dressing (Miracle Whip or Mayonnaise)
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/2 (12 ounce) jar bacon bits
  • Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium bowl, mix together the leeks, cream cheese, creamy salad dressing, vinegar, sugar, bacon bits, salt, and pepper. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours, until well chilled.

This is a mild, creamy dip that puts leeks in the spotlight. Serve with buttery, round crackers, or vegetables. It's great for parties!


Recipe and photo courtesy of AllRecipes.com. If you have an onion recipe you'd like us to print, please email it to customerservice@dixondalefarms.com.
Onion Plant Variety Chart
Here's an easy way to compare Dixondale onion plant varieties in your day area. You can use this reference chart to make growing decisions based on size and storage potential, onion color, and days to harvest. This table also includes specialty varieties and leeks.  
March Shipping Zip Codes 
Time to Order. Plants Ship Soon!
Are the first three digits of your zip code on the list below? If they are, then your onions will be shipping soon. If you haven't ordered them yet, now is the time. For more information, check out our shipping page.


Q & A: Applying Ammonium Sulfate
Q. H ow do I apply ammonium sulfate to give my onion and leek plants nitrogen?  
 
A. Just follow the directions in this video, and they'll get all the nitrogen they need. 
All Your Questions Answered
We have answers to your frequently asked questions! Just click the link for information on which varieties to order, how many plants are in a bunch or bundle, and how to find your frost and freeze dates. We also have tips on planting, caring, feeding, harvesting, and storing onions. 

You can also read our electronic Planting Guide or download and print a PDF guide (which includes leeks). 

And be sure to review our short videos on Facebook. Topics range from fertilizing and dealing with cold weather, to how onion plants are harvested. You can view these videos even if you don't have a Facebook account.
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 get growing tips and cultural information, visit our Web site . You can also view our online catalog We're 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.
Join Us on Social Media!
We invite you to join the community on our  Facebook page . You can connect with us and fellow growers to share stories, photos, recipes, weather information, and other tips. 
 
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And don't forget to find us on  YouTube and subscribe to our videos, where Bruce will guide you through every step of our onion growing process, from planting to harvesting, shipping, and beyond.  
 
 
We're on Pinterest too. Check out our Pins , which include photos covering every aspect of onion growing .
 

You can also join us on Instagram, a photo community where we're sharing even more Dixondale photos.