Thursday, August 6, 2015

Onions and Shallots

Two weeks ago I put my onions on their storage rack to dry. A couple days ago we had a huge storm with driving rain, hail, and wind. It drove the water right in to the side. Some of the onions got wet which isn't good. Luckily now it is pretty dry. The humidity broke. The onions seem mostly dry. I sorted through them. It is really humid here and I don't have a good dry place to cure them. Some of the onions molded. So I tossed those. I also found that the red shallots had some that had split and some that didn't. The ones that split had trouble drying between the bulbs. So I broke them open to let them dry better. I'll use them up first.

Every year I braid them to hang them in my basement to store. I like the braids as they are pretty. I'm not sure if they are the best way to store them though. We have a lot of mold and diseases here and one onion touching another is probably a bad thing. Usually even long storing onions won't store past January here.

This is the harvest from the first onions that were ready to be cured. The next set have just started falling in that last storm. My subjective thought on the harvest was that it wasn't all that good. But it is hard to say until all the onions are harvested and weighed. Last year I used a 6" spacing and this year mostly a 5" spacing. I also had a small spot where I had 4", 5", and 6" spacings of the same onion to test to see how big they would get. The 5" and 6" were about the same, but the 4" spacing had really tiny onions. So 5" looks like a good choice for me from now on. But am I wrong? Are the onions smaller because of the spacing? Will I get a better total weight even though I have small onions? Once the last set are pulled I'll know.

Then again it could be the starts I used. I tried Dixondale for the first time. I found that their starts were in general smaller than mine (some much smaller)and they took a while to break dormancy, while mine were growing right away. The smaller bulbs could be because of that. Or the weather. I really should control my experiments better. But regardless I think next year I'll grow my own starts and I'll use a 5" spacing. For me that seems to work best.


  1. Hi Daphne, Too bad about your onions getting wet. I think maybe I am growing my onions too close as they weren't that big. I am growing them in pots and always trying to crowd things it seems! Nancy

  2. That's so true with experiments or even unusual results in the garden - I usually end up questioning if the myriad of other factors could have been the actual reason for the results I had. It's hard to control everything in the garden, so it really is a best guess. Last year I did test the spacing on the Rossa di Milano using 4" & 5" spacing. I did a few rows with the 5" spacing and at the end of the season, I didn't see much difference between any of the rows, so I decided that 4" spacing was fine. That's about as unscientific as you can get! I'll probably do another test at some point, specifically on the Copras, and I plan to be a bit more precise.

  3. Yesterday evening I had to dash out and cover my drying onions because we actually had thunderstorms and rain - an extremely rare event here. That was the second rain event this summer. Weird. I'm sorry to hear that some of your onions were spoiled. Do you plant your onions in rows or in squares? I plant mine 4 inches apart in rows that are 9 inches apart and a lot of my onions come out huge.

  4. Wow your onions look great! I love how you braid them. I totally put my onions too close together this year and ended up with a bunch of tiny ones. Oh well, live and learn right?

  5. Your onions do look nice, hope they measure up to your expectations. I think I used a 5 per square spacing this year, could use up to 9 per square (which is 4" spacing). I agree with the Dixondale plants, mine took a month to break dormancy, which made me wonder. But they seem to have caught up and produced medium large bulbs, which is what I wanted.