December 2015
  
Onion plants undergo an interesting journey from the time they leave our farm, on through planting, growth, harvest, and the later enjoyment of the fruits of your labors. Here's what happens from the time we ship your plants right up to the time they become mature, ready-to-eat onions.
   
The Transplants Are Shipped
When we send you our healthy onion transplants, they are around pencil size, with beginning roots, bulbs, and tops. Pictured here are 60-plant bunches of Dixondale reds, whites, and yellow transplants ready to be packed. 
 
Planting and Growing
After you prep the soil, mix some Treflan Herbicide Granules into it before you plant to keep out weeds and grass. Our 10-20-10 fertilizer and All Natural Feed and Weed are also good choices for giving your young plants their best start. The seedlings will begin developing in the comfort of the cooler weather; the main growth at this stage will be in the roots and leaves. As the temperature becomes moderate (around 65-75ยบ F), they reach optimal leaf growth, which could be up to 13 leaves (though perfectly healthy onions can produce fewer leaves than that). Each leaf corresponds to a ring inside the onion.
 
When Your Plants Bulb, and What They Need
Warmer temperatures and longer daylight hours prompt your onion plants to begin bulbing and stop growing their leafy tops.  The plants are now putting all their energy into expanding their bulbs. Watering is critical during this period. Water every other day so the onions stay hydrated and the soil remains loose for easy bulb expansion. Take a look at our video to see what your plants may look like at this important growth stage. You can also o bserve the ground around the bottoms of the plants; if it's cracking, the bulbs are expanding.

Harvest Time
As onions mature, they stop storing carbohydrates and nutrients in their leaves, and move them into their bulbs. When the tops of the onions start to turn brown and fall over, they're ready to harvest. It's best to pull your onions early in the morning, and lay them out in rows with the tops of one row covering the bulbs of the other. This will prevent sunscald as they dry in the sun. If it's rainy, you can lay them out in a cool area with plenty of space between onions and good air flow. This is effective not just for the initial drying, but also for the curing that follows up if you store your onions. 
 
Journey's End
There are many ways you can help your onion transplants grow into large, delectable reds, whites, and yellows, just like the ones pictured here (that's a tennis ball in the center). It starts with careful planting, fertilizing, watering, and watching. Yes, you should watch them grow; that's part of the joy, and you will know you're near harvest time when you see leaves multiplying, the ground cracking, and bulbs pushing the earth aside. 

Enjoy!
 
Warm wishes for the holidays,
Bruce & Jeanie
Products for Healthy Onions 
The following growing aids include a fertilizer, a foliar feed, and fungicide. All will help you maximize your onion crop, protecting your plants and encouraging their growth throughout the season. 
 
For Established Plants.  Ammonium Sulfate Fertilizer 21-0-0: Your plants will need nitrogen to maximize growth and bulbing potential. This product helps onions generate more foliage and, therefore, more rings and larger bulbs. Our Ammonium Sulfate is actually good for all vegetables, so you can buy in bulk.  Apply the first application 3 weeks after planting, continue every 3 weeks until onions start to bulb. 

OmegaGrow Nitrogen for the Soil.  OmegaGrow: This exclusive, all-organic foliar feed has everything your onions need to grow big and strong. OmegaGrow provides a rich source of nutrients that slowly break down and release nitrogen into the soil, continually supporting root growth, top development, and yield, but never harming the environment.  Spray first application 2 weeks after planting and continue every 7-14 days until onions start to bulb. 
 
Disease Zapper (Organic).  OxiDate is a organic fungicide/bacteriacide. It's EPA registered, offers a great alternative to copper-based products, contains no chlorine or ammonia, and leaves no harmful residue. It will stop powdery and downy mildew, phytophthora, brown rot, blights, and bacterial wilt on contact, all without harming the environment or posing a risk to human health or safety. Apply at first sign of disease when tips of foliage turn brown. Spray every 5-7 days. OxiDate works best as preventative or "early curative" by applying spray when conditions are conducive to disease (but no symptoms to be seen yet).

Mancozeb Fungus Prevention.
  Mancozeb Flowable Fungicide with Zinc:This liquid fungicide contains zinc, iron, manganese, ethylene, and bisdithiocarbarmate, and does an excellent job of preventing fungus damage to plants. It protects against downy mildew, tip blight, stemphylium leaf blight, botrytis, white tip, and more. One bottle will treat 7 bunches for an entire season. Spray every 10-14 days after planting.

Spotlight on Longtime Customers
Robert Allison of Bellflower, CA has been a loyal customer since 1998. Due to his location, he grows Intermediate-Day onions -- which include some of our all-time favorites. This past year, he grew sweet Red Candy Apple and Super Star. Now those are some impressive mounds of huge onions!
 
 
 
Robert tells us, "This was my f irst year for the Super Star (White), and they came out great. I'm lookin g forward to next year." And we're looking forward to seeing more pictures, Robert!
 
Around the Farm
Budding Gardeners
The kiddos at our granddaughter Clementine's preschool keep a precious little garden. We think that's a great idea since it keeps kids close to the land and helps them gain a better understanding of where their food comes from.
 
In this photo, they're planting the Short Day Sampler we sent them. We can't wait to see how they grow!
From Our Friends
Here's a Dixondale newbie showing off some of his 2015 crop. Regina Cain of Arvada, WY, who just started with us this season, grew our Long Day Sampler. She tells us, "My grandson's name is David. He is my little farmer in training!


Send Us Photos of Your Award-Winning Onions!
If your Dixondale onions have won an award at a fair or festival, please send us your photos! They can be recent or from a while ago. We would love to publish the award photos in an upcoming newsletter. Mail them to customerservice@dixondalefarms.com.
Cooking with Onions

Slow Cooker Chili

  • 1 cup dried pinto beans, sorted and rinsed
  • 1 cup dried red kidney beans, sorted and rinsed
  • 1-1/2 pound beef sirloin or pork loin, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes (3-1/2 cups)
  • 1 pound yellow or white onions, coarsely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced (1-1/3 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 cups salsa
  • 5 cups water 
At least 6-8 hours before cooking (or overnight), soak dried beans in a bowl. Beans should be covered with enough water to stand 2-inches above beans. Drain beans and place in 5 to 6-quart slow cooker. Add meat, onion, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, salsa, and water. Cover slow cooker with lid. Turn on high setting for 7 to 9 hours, or until meat and beans are fork-tender. Serve in bowls topped with sour cream, cilantro, and extra onions, if desired.

For a vegetarian version, omit the meat. Instead, add 1 cup canned or frozen chopped mild green chiles (drained), 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice, and an additional cup of water. Cook as directed above.

Makes 2-1/2 quarts, or 6 servings.

Recipe and photo courtesy of the National Onion Association. If you have an onion recipe you'd like us to print, please email it to customerservice@dixondalefarms.com.
Q & A: Maximizing Soil Quality
Q. How do I provide my onion plants with the best soil?

A. The pH of your soil needs to be between 6.2 and 6.8 to get the best onions; this is pretty close to the neutral value of 7.0. You can test your soil either with a home test kit, or by taking it to your local Agricultural Extension Office. Use a trowel to dig about 4-6 inches down into the soil. Take at least one teaspoon from the bottom of this hole and bag it. If the soil tests alkaline (higher than 7.0) add some peat moss to lower the pH. If it's acidic (lower than 6.5) mix in ground limestone to raise the pH. Test your soil again after adding the amendments, to make sure it's now in the proper range.

In addition to having the right pH, the soil should be loose and well-drained. Be sure to till it thoroughly before planting.
Fun Onion Facts
Did you know that many Vidalia onions are Texas-born? Not only were the yellow onion varieties often grown as Vidalia developed mostly at Texas A&M University, Dixondale Farms sends tons of onion plants to Vidalia growers every year. The unique nature of the soil in the Vidalia region of Georgia combines with the superior quality of the Yellow Granex variety to produce the phenomenon known as the Vidalia onion.
All Your Questions Answered
We have answers to your frequently asked questions! Just click the link for information on what varieties to order, how many plants are in a bunch or bundle, and how to find your frost and freeze dates, as well as for tips on planting, caring, feeding, harvesting, and storing onions. 

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.
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 . 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 Facebook and Pinterest!
Join the community of friends and growers 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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Recently, the Dixondale Customer Service Staff planted their first onion patch together. Check it out!

We're on Pinterest too. Check out our pins , which cover every aspect of onion-growing -- including photos and stories from fellow growers, how-to articles, and a wide variety of guidance for growing the best onions ever.

You can also join us on Instagram, a global photo community where we share our favorite photographs of all things Dixondale