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Growing Onions, Leeks, and Shallots

October 3, 2014 - GrowOrganic
Growing Onions, Leeks, and Shallots Fall Perennial Vegetable Care Fruit Trees - A Selection Guide Winter Garden Tips Planting Bulbs Getting Rid of Aphids Growing Radishes How to Dehydrate Food Seed Saving Cover Crops for the Garden Indoor Citrus Growing Carrots Mushroom Plugs Grasshoppers Tomato Hornworm Growing Broccoli

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Soil Preparation Onions prefer loose, well-drained soils that are high in fertility, slightly acidic (pH between 6.2-6.8), adequately irrigated and in full sun. The looser the composition of your soil, the larger your onion bulbs will grow. Prepare your bed by turning under animal manure or compost, making sure that it is fully broken down before planting. Compost composed of cedar or redwood is not an acceptable substitute for high quality compost. Onions are heavy feeders, so provide plenty of…
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They’re a big family, those alliums. From the familiar onions and softneck garlics, to the less famous but intriguing shallots, leeks, and hardneck garlics. Some gardeners even use alliums just for their flowers, like Allium giganteum with 3 foot stems and purple flower heads the size of softballs. Gardeners agree that for superior flavor in onions, garlic, shallots, and leeks there is no substitute for growing your own. They are easy crops, planted in fall and growing until mid-summer harvest.…
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Growing Guide
Onion Planting & Growing Guide (pdf)
Video Transcript
Hi I'm Tricia a California organic gardener. Onions, leeks and shallots are all staples in the kitchen and there good for you healthy for your heart.

Today we're gonna be fall planting onions and leeks from transplants and shallots and onion sets from bulbs. Onions can be grown a few different ways either from transplants, from onions sets or you can start your own onion seeds. Onion sets are mini dormant onion bulbs which will grow into big onions. Onion transplants are live onion plants that look like scallions and finally there's onion seed that you can plant and grow your own transplants.

Onions are classified as long day, short day or intermediate day this is less confusing than it sounds the closer to the earth poles you live the more your hours of daylight vary throughout the year. Long day onions need daylight reaching fourteen to sixteen hours in order to bulb short day onions start to bulb when they get about ten hours a day light intermediate day variates bulb up when the light is between twelve and fourteen hours, long story short if you live in the north, plant long day in the south short day and immediate day just about everywhere the only places intermediate day wont do well are south florida or south texas. These tasty alliums can be planted in the spring or the fall but between October and December is a great time to plant onions and leeks in just about everywhere in the US. Gophers love onions, shallots, garlic and leeks and I have gopher wire installed at the bottom of all of my raised beds if you don't i suggest that you start with gopher wire as a first step use wire meant for gophers it has smaller holes than chicken wire and is stronger than aviary wire the wire is also galvanized to prevent it from rotting in the ground.

All of these plants are heavy feeders so I'm going to be sure to add compost, blood meal for nitrogen and bone meal for phosphorus. I add one cup of equal parts blood meal and bone meal to every ten feet of row. Rows should be at least eight inches apart for onions and twenty-four to thirty-six inches apart for leeks. Organic matter is important loose soil will help size up the bulbs so I'm going to add some organic matter like compost.

Onions can live up to three weeks from their bulb so it doesn't matter what the tops look like if the bulbs are nice and firm the onions are viable. I'm ready to plant the onion transplants, before i plant I'm just going to trim the tops a little back to the healthy green part, plant your onions about four to six inches apart and about one to two inches deep to plant your onion sets you want to do the same spacing as the transplants but you want to plant a little bit shallower make sure that the little root hairs are pointed down. In colder climates it's a good idea to use some mulch I'm going to use straw for the leeks. I'm going to dig a six inch deep trench as the leeks start to grow i'm gonna start heeling them in order to blanch the stems, plant the leeks about two to six inches apart. Leeks send their leaves up exactly opposite one another so you wanna plant the leeks so that the leaves grow into the aisles rather than into each other the leaks will be ready to harvest when they are about two inches in diameter there very cold hardy but you want to make sure and harvest them before it gets too hot or they might bolt. For shallots we are going to plant each individual bulb which means we may need to separate the bulbs from one another. I'm going to plant the shallots about seven to nine inches apart plant them blunt or hairy root side down and make sure that the tops are just touching the surface of the soil. Shallots will grow more bulbs from the central bulbs so make sure you give them adequate space also since the tops are showing, some birds like pigeons get curious and might try to pull them up, if you have those kinds of birds in your area i recommend putting down some bird netting.

Make sure you give your beds adequate water but don't over water because that can cause the bulbs to rot also make sure your alliums are well weeded, you can grow weeds or you can grow alliums but you can't grow both, your onions should be ready to harvest about midsummer when about half the leaves start to turn yellow, then you just want to cure them for a couple of days in a partially shaded area and they'll be ready to store. So enjoy your organic vegetables and grow organic for life!

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Categories: Seed Garlic, Organic Seed Shallots, Onions, Live Onion Transplants, Onion Sets, Seed Garlic, Organic Seed Shallots


Mitch Soboleski Says:
Nov 5th, 2011 at 5:08 pm

Patricia, do have any videos on your raised beds?  Any tips?  I like the looks.  Is it hard to replace soil as its fertility diminishes?
Thanks,
Mitch

Anita Flanigan Says:
Oct 5th, 2013 at 10:58 am

I just love your garden Patricia and have been looking for the video that shows how you planned and built it.
Any help finding it would be appreciated.

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Oct 10th, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Mitch, Glad you like the raised beds! Tricia does not replace the soil but uses cover crops in the fall, and fertilizer during the growing season. If you have compacted soil then Daikon Radish would be a clod-busting cover crop to try.

Charlotte from Peaceful Valley Says:
Oct 10th, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Anita,

Happy to know you enjoy Tricia’s garden! We don’t have any raised beds plans available right now, but will have them in the future. Tricia talks about the history of her garden in her lectures at events. Perhaps someday we’ll film her doing that?

Christina Says:
Oct 19th, 2013 at 6:01 am

Thank you so much for this video - we live in southern Maine and have cold winters.  I’ve been hesitant to plant onions in the fall thinking they would not survive the cold temps.  We’ll give it a try this year!  Happy gardening!

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