According to my planting schedule my onions were supposed to go in the ground on March 20th, but my trusty weatherman forecast lows in the teens so I waited. Those really low temperatures didn't quite materialize. We only had lows around 22°F (-8°C), but still too cold for my poor little onion seedlings. So I waited. Yesterday we started warming up and the weathermen (I actually look at several sites) agree that for the next week we would hover in the low 50°Fs (10-15°C) for about a week and rarely dip below freezing. We won't be quite as sunny as we have been, but we really need the rain right about now. We are way below our normal rainfall for March. We usually get over four inches of precipitation in March and have only gotten about one so far. We are in need of a good soaking.
Yes checking the weather several times a day is a rite of spring here at Daphne's Dandelions. Other rites include planting the first seed, which happened on St. Patrick's Day, and planting my first transplant. Yesterday that rite was lovely preformed. It started by me getting home from the store tired, but it was only 3:30pm so I wandered into the garden. I didn't change, but was wearing my skirt. I rarely wear anything that can't get garden dirty. This skirt was a stone washed grey peasent skirt made of cotton. I wasn't sure I really wanted to dig, so I just sat in my garden for a while enjoying the sun. I have no chair in my garden so when I say I sit in my garden, I'm right down in the dirt. I checked my spinach that still wasn't up. I put my hands in the dirt and broke up a few winter clods.
After a while I wasn't as tired. It was time. I took the onion packs out. Usually I would water them before planting, but somehow that was forgotten. I started preparing the soil. I forked it without turning it over, just to let a little air down to the root level. I put down a couple of handfuls of fertlizer and raked it over. The sea breeze was a tad nippy, but still it was warm and sunny enough that I took off my jacket while preparing the bed for my onions. The cool breeze felt wonderfully nice.
Then I planted out my onions, Copra, a storage onion, and Tropea, a red onion for fresh eating. I debated spacing. Both Mel Bartholomew and John Jeavons, masters of intensive planting, say to plant onions only 4" (10cm) apart. It seems so close to me. I buy onions that are 4" wide, but then they are the huge sweet onions. The onions I'm planting will probably only be 2-2 1/2" in diameter - 3" if I'm lucky. So I listened. Sort of. I have cells that have one onion in them and some cells that have two onions in them. If one onion needs 4", two need 6" to get about the same square footage. So the multiplanted onions were spaced 6".
I had one 6" space left over to finish a row, so I put a multiplanted soil block of bunching onions in. This had four bunching onions in the block. The blocks are so much easier to plant. The other onions you have to loosen the bottom and try to get the plant out without grabbing the stem (which is really bad for the plant). I've always found the process frustrating. Soil blocks are just plopped right in. No fuss at all.
There was one foot left in the bed. I wasn't going to plant leeks here, but I had them ready to go in and a leftover bed to put them in. I dug two small trenchs, then in the trenchs I dug holes and tried to bury about three inches of the stem. I wasn't perfect at it, but no big deal. I hope the leeks grow big enough before the rain washes all the soil back in. The rows are only 6" apart so there is not much room to put the extra soil.
I contemplated my pea and lettuce bed, but it was 4:45pm and it was starting to get chilly as the sun went down. I wasn't sure I'd finish in time. And as planting peas is also a rite of spring. I'll enjoy that another day.