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planting onions and Perlite

Brainerd, MN

i have no experience with vegetable gardening other than tomatoes and peppers I've grown successfully in containers. On a whim I bought some onion (bulbs?) at a box store to plant in an abandoned raised bed at the side of the house. The onions claim to be "famous Georgia 'type' onions (whatever thos may be). The bulbs are fairly slender and vertical and each has about a 3-4" stem coming from its top. The rather limited directions say not to plant it too deep, about 1". I assume they mean the bulb, so does this mean there should be an inch from the top of the bulb to the soil surface, or what?

The soil here (lakefront) in Zone 3b is VERY sandy and drains very rapidly . The bed contains about a four inch layer of discarded potting soil that was used last year for container gardening (mostly Schultz brand potting soil with Perlite and spag peat added). I read somewhere on this site that onions like a high pH, fast draining but rich soil? I haven't checked the pH yet but I HOPE the recycled potting soil plus sandy ground will be the right medium for them. What do you think.

I'm also wondering if anyone knows if Perlite is perfectly safe, environmentall. I understand it is a natural, blasted lava rock. A friend said she didn;t think it was environmentally sound. Now I'M wondering.

Lakeland, FL(Zone 9a)

I dunno any of the answers except.... those famous Georgia onions I would bet are vidalia. Vidalia is a town in Georgia.... something special about the soil, but I think those famous onions are some sort of hybrid also. I've not seen vidalia onions sets sold by the name "vidalia".I'm guess that's because there's only one vidalia Georgia and the same onion might not be as sweet grown some place other than there. I bet FarmerDill would know.

I've eaten them since childhood. I hope I'm not being snookered, but I look forward to seeing those onions at the market every year.

Best wishes on your onion endeavors. I think you only cover up the bulb part when planting. Dad says they don't need as much water as many other things, but they do like to feed often.

Kind Regards,

This message was edited May 7, 2007 11:29 AM

Brainerd, MN

Hi Lexie
thanks for the reply and yes, when I bought the bulbs the sign actually said "We're not allowed to call these Vidalia onions but they are the same thing". I just got them on a whim and have no idea what I'm doing. Maybe you could ask dad WHAT they like to feed on - meaning the mix proportion. I have some vegetable fertilizer (4-7-10) and wonder if onions like the same thing as tomatoes.

Augusta, GA(Zone 8a)

There are currently some 20+ cultivars approved for growing as Vidalia onions. They are all versions of Yellow Granex and yes they are hybrids. They are also short day onions designed for growing in the winter. In Minnesota, you would need a long day onion, for growing in the summer. Fortunately almost all sets are long day onions. Short day onions don't keep well and are consequently sold as plants..

With sets, you just poke them into the the ground with about half the bulblet exposed. That is if you want bulbing onions, bunching onions you can cover. If the whole bulb is below ground level, they don't size up. You did not mention, a feeding program, onions are fairly heavy feeders.

This message was edited May 7, 2007 11:46 AM

Brainerd, MN

Farmerdill,thanks for adding this (and i feel like I am talking directly to authority, seeing that you are from Georgia). I mentioned that I am by no means a vegetable gardener (or otherwise informed about onions) so i need a little addidional help here. Are you saying these onions (which were just planted yesterday) won't grow here in Minnesota? I'm not even sure i understand what bunching onions or scullions are but... I haven't planted all that many, have no intention of storing them, but rather would like to have them on hand thru the summer. Do they develop to a point where they can be picked early and used before they really become a full bulb/ Is this the same as a scullion?

As for feeding, i have no idea what to feed them. For my container tomatoes and peppers I've used 4-7-10.

Any additional infor that you or others could provide would be much appreciated. Thanks

Augusta, GA(Zone 8a)

The 4-7-10 should work fine, We use 5-10-15 which is a similar ratio. They will grow, but probably not bulb properly. Good for green onions, scallions. Bunching onions are designed to grow thick stalks, with out bulbing. The Vidalia crop is just about all harvested now. Usually starts in march and finishes in May, but is running a little late this year.

Thumbnail by Farmerdill
Brainerd, MN

Thanks Farmerdill!!! It sounds like I'm going to have some fresh scallions this summer. And of course, one question leads to another. The minimal info on the bundle said it took 90-120 days to harvest, but I assume they mean into fully bulbed onions(?). Basically if in a month or two i pull one up and it looks ediable, it should be fine as a scallion? I hope that's right.

Augusta, GA(Zone 8a)

Yep, you can start eating them as soon as they get enough size to make it worthwhile. It seems that you got a bundle of plants. Sets come in a bag and are essentially small dried onion bulblets.

Brainerd, MN

much appreciated farmer

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