Planting out onions March 2?

tammyinwv(z6/WV)February 21, 2013

On Feb 9, I sowed indoors salad scallions "Parade', and Ailsa Craig Exhibition onions.

On this pic it shows them a few days later. They are now all up, and about double in height of what they are here. Approx 1.5", some a little more.

According to my county extension agency it says to "PLANT Onion sets" Feb 2. They seem awfully small, and that seems pretty early, unless they tolorate snow, cause I know we will get more till about end of March thru end of April. Our last frost date in May 10.

This is the first time I have sown them indoors first, and never did them outsid until after May. I need some tips from the experts.

Here is a link that might be useful:

This post was edited by tammyinwv on Thu, Feb 21, 13 at 11:26

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Make sure you and your extension agent are speaking the same language. Planting sets is quite different from setting plants. Plants should be set when they are big enough. If you sowed the seeds February 9, that should be a minimum of 6 weeks later and 8 weeks would be preferable.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 4:29PM
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Thanks farmerdill, i was wondering if there was a difference. I didnt talk with the agent, I was going by an online calender for my area. I will wait the 8 weeks, and I read on here it was recommended to keep them trimmed, so will also do that. But i figure i am going to have to transplant since I just have these in seed starting soil, and in those shallow seed starting trays.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2013 at 4:59PM
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Your seedlings are on schedule, but they are crowded and you definitely need to thin them now, and then transplant them to roomier digs in a couple of weeks.

I would never transplant my seedlings in early March -- too much wind and cold. April, or 3-4 weeks before last frost date is perfect.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 9:22AM
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Thanks planatus. I always hated thinning, seemed like such a waste of materials. but I seen this morning where somone took the thinnings and replanted just those into another flat. Dont know why i didnt think of that,lol.
You answered my questions, I wasnt sure when to transplant into larger pots/cups.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 12:21PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Tammy, I don't see any reason to thin your onions and certainly not the scallions (those grow perfectly in bunches). Planatus's advice is excellent as always, but he likes to give his onions a lot of room which I personally don't think they need. You can certainly do what you feel is best.
I'd suggest you wait a few weeks for them to grow a little more and then take out each cell and pot them up intact into their own 3-4 inch pot with good soil. They'll grow just fine like that and in another 6 weeks each group will be easy to separate into single plants and transplant into the garden.
Scallions, as I say above grow great in clumps. I seed 15 seeds into 6 pack sized cells, and transplant just like that. I then harvest the bunch, as a whole, put a twist tie on it and sell lots and lots of them.

This is how tight I seed my onions and grow them till transplanting outside. (sorry, no pics of the scallions)

This is how they look in the field.

This post was edited by madroneb on Fri, Feb 22, 13 at 22:49

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 9:13PM
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Thanks a lot madroneb, for all the great tips an pics. I would have thought even the scallions would need to be separated more after planting out. Since I am using raised beds, thats good to know.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 6:30AM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

As long as the fertility is good, scallions grow great in a bunch. This is what happens naturally if they are left to go to seed. The flower falls over and the seeds grow in a clump.
The natural scenario doesn't work so well with bulbing onions. If you don't give them room to grow after they're about 1/4" diameter, you end up with small onions.
I know of growers that transplant them in groups of 3 and they just push away from each other and make great big onions but this only works If your soil is fertile and loamy .
I don't have that kind of soil so I transplant them 4-6 inches apart and they do fine.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 9:17AM
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Mark..what size cells did you seed the onions in? Could they be sown in trays without cells and then transplanted in the ground?

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 9:15PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

If you take a close look at the pictures above you'll see there are no cells in those trays. Those are just open flats, about 16x20x3. I seed about 1000 bulbing onions in each of them and they grow that way till they transplant into the field.

I feed them a little fish emulsion every week or so once they get large and are close to transplant time.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 12:22AM
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Thanks Mark, I wasn't sure because the plants were in such nice straight lines in the flats. This is my first year growing onions. Hoping I'm not to late starting them from seed. I'm going to try Copra, I did some research and I thought this would be a good variety to grow for the first year. I liked the fact that they stored well. I'm trying to decide if I should plant them on black plastic or not. It's hard to find time to weed in the summer. It looks like onions do not shade out many of the weeds. I see that you do not have yours on plastic, do you find it hard to keep up with the weeds?

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 3:59PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

I use as little plastic mulch as I can and I never use it solely for weed control, only for a few earlier crops.

I find that if i'm on top of weeds when they are small, they rarely become a serious problem. Also, the shape of onion plants make them easy to hoe around.

Copra is an excellent variety. You should really get on the seeding soon. I'm not sure where you're located but you want to have them dry down while it's still warm and mostly dry. Rainy fall harvests make for poor keeping onions.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 1:00AM
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Thank you for your advice. I am in zone 7a. Another idea I had is to use would chips since I can get them for free and they would help retain the moisture from the drip tape.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 2:35PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

Wood chips may work well as mulch the first season, but keep in mind of a few things.
They break down slowly, even when turned under the soil. Because of this it makes that area difficult to direct seed into for a few years.
Also, they tend to pull nitrogen from the soil in their decomposition process which could result in deficient plants. If your soil is abundant in N. this may not be a problem.

There are other pros and cons to using wood chip in/on the soil but thats another discussion....

    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 2:55PM
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