onion and garlic newbie questions
I am sure my newbie questions have been asked before and I apologize for the repetition. I tried searching but couldn't find my exact questions very easily. So, here goes, some onion and garlic questions I hope you'll help me out with. And I apologize for the length of this post also, I have lots of questions.
First, I am located in North Dakota, zone 3-4, long summer days, cold winters. My vegetable garden is in full sun, good soil. Space is not an issue.
Onions first. Last year I grew onions for the first time. I bought some "sets" from the local nursery, I don't even know what variety they were. The onions I harvested were pretty good, but quite strong. I am assuming that if I grow some different varieties, I can get sweeter onions, is that correct? Is it mostly a matter of variety or is it partly my growing conditions (soil, etc). I saw on this forum that many of you recommend Dixondale Farms, so I looked at their web site. I learned about long day versus short day varieties (obviously I am long day) and about storage onions. So, I will probably order a couple yellows and a couple reds, both sweeter varieties and storage varieties.
The Dixondale web site says they will ship to my zip code April 23. Wow! Our soil will barely be thawed. Is that when I want to put them in the ground? As soon as the ground is thawed? It won't have warmed up yet.
Are the plants that they will send the same as the "sets" that I bought last year? If I wanted to grow onions from seed, how would I do that? How far ahead of time do I need to start seeds? Is there any advantage other than price to starting from seed versus sets?
Next is garlic. I've never grown garlic but would like to. I understand I will plant it in the fall and harvest the next summer, right? Does anyone have web sites or catalogs to recommend or varieties to suggest? I did go to one web site mentioned here (http://www.virtualseeds.com/garlicgrowing.html), and learned about hardneck and softneck, but I really know nothing about how to grow garlic. All I need is a good starting point and some pointers.
Thanks so much for any advice. I'm looking forward to my home-grown onions and garlic!