Onions and potatoes

slowpoke_gardenerFebruary 22, 2013

I have stated before that experimenting was half of the fun of garden, it is also where you get your greatest losses.

I was trying to push my onions and potatoes into planting early but the weather has not been cooperating.

I purchased Kennebec and Pontiac seed potatoes and different Bonnie and Dixiondale onion plants, also 6 different type of onion seed.

The Kennebec potatoes I started chitting early, hoping to get them to break through the soil, under a heavy mulch about the first of March, still having the mulch for protection.

Well my Kennebec are at that point now, but mother nature is not ready for them. The Pontiac potatoes are still being kept cool and progressing nicely. ( I have a flat of each)

I hope the picture will show the Bonnie onions to the left, which are a little older actually look better than the dixondale plants. The onion plants I started from seed on 1/16 and planted at 3 and 4 weeks of age have not survived the harsh weather.

The seed potatoes cost $.49 and .59 per pound and the Dixiondale onions costs $1.79 per bundle and had a count of about 100 per bundle, the Bonnie cost $2.25 and & $2.75 per bundle and had a count of about 65 per bundle,

As you can I did not buy top quality plants, but I still expect to get some produce this year.


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I love experimenting too. I do agree that a mad scientist gardener who experiments a lot has to be willing to put up with some losses incurred during the experimentation.

It is unfortunate that your onions raised from seed didn't survive, but then the weather seems like it has been particularly uncooperative lately.

I love the way you are getting the seed potatoes off to an early start. I have started almost everything under the sun in flats at some point, but I've never even considered doing it with seed potatoes. I don't know why. I think it will work and could be a way to get your potatoes off to a great head start when your garden plot is still too wet and too cold.

With onions, I prefer Dixondale plants shipped from the farm merely because they seem to bolt much less often than the ones sold at local nurseries and garden centers. I still get a good yield from locally-purchased plants whether they are from BP, Dixondale or Brown's Omaha,, but just get more bolting from the locally-purchaed ones some years. I suspect it may have more to do with the fact that the bulk onions sit out there in those crates for weeks or even months in less than ideal conditions.

I have nothing against BP except that they dominate the market too much. It isn't good for us consumers when any wholesaler or retailer grabs too big of a market share, so I try to actively seek out smaller local growers when their products are available.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 12:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am afraid I may have also jumped the gun on starting my peas. Some of them will be ready to go into the ground in a week. They are already 2-3" high and a bit spindlier than I like. Hope it won't be too early for them. The problem with starting early is that by the time you realize it's too early and you need to start over, it is a week too late.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 12:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Larry, I don't put my potatoes in soil until they go into the trench in the garden and although the eyes have turned into sprouts they don't break through the ground for a while after planting because they are six inches deep.

One year I still planted them a little too early and probably not deep enough and I had a little damage to the leaf tips but it didn't seem to hurt them any.

My potatoes would be perfect to put in the ground right now, but my weather is not ready. We hardly know from one day to the next what our weather is going to be like, and trying to guess 3-8 weeks early so we can get things ready, is just next to impossible.

Looking at my 10 day forecast, Feb 28 looks like the first possible day for me to plant potatoes and I may change my mind as that day approaches.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 12:37PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is the first time I have placed potting soil on potatoes. They were in the tray looking very nice and ready to plant, but the weather was, and still is terrible, so I just turned all the eyes up and tossed on some used potting soil to see what would happen.

I am not really fond of any Bonnie plants, mainly because of the reasons Dawn stated, but around here I dont have a lot to choose from. I had to buy the Dixondale plants out of town in a grocery store. I expect that some buyer may buy a lot of Dixondale plants and resales then to the smalled mom and pop stores in the smaller towns. That is one reason I want to learn to start my own plants. I feel if I can start my own plants I will be more in charge of the quality of plants I get.

I still have 4 kinds of onions that I have started in the house. One is a Spanish onion that I got from Carol that I have never grown before. It and another Spanish onion is getting special treatment. I wish I had started my onions sooner.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 1:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Y'all know all about my issues with very cold weather very late in spring and of all the cool-season plants, it seems to hurt the potatoes the most. I find potatoes quite vexing to keep happy in my cold microclimate.

The issue never is how cold the air or soil temps are at any given time around planting time. It is almost the opposite. We tend to have a lot of nice warm days in February and they heat up the soil temps. I can plant the potatoes and as long as 3-6" of rain do not immediately fall thereafter, they'll be fine. The trouble I have is when the potato plants are 1 to 3' tall in April and then we have a horrible late freeze and it freezes them back to the ground. That just irritates me like crazy. Sure, they'll regrow but they won't be as vigorous after they regrow, and they never produce as much after they've been frozen back as they do in a year when they didn't freeze back. I have not lost the potato plants to a late freeze since I started seriously using floating row cover (as opposed to just dabbling with it) a few years back, but the memories of year after year of frozen plants sure sticks in my memory.

Carol, I dragged my potatoes out of their storage spot in the back of the pantry a few mintutes ago to see how they are doing and am going to put them in flats in the shed for chitting tomorrow. They eyes are already starting to sprout, so it is time. I'd do it today, but tonight is going to be awfully cold. I hope to get them in the ground next week. We'll see. The weather has to be somewhat cooperative.

Dorothy, Instead of sprouting peas inside in the warm house this year, I am sprouting them in the greenhouse. I don't know if it makes a real difference. On the one hand, with the greenhouse nights being so cold, the peas have been slower to sprout and grow so they are staying more compact and I haven't felt like I need to hurry up and get them into the ground. On the other hand, even with the doors and vents open, the greenhouse still is easily 20 degrees warmer than the outdoor air on a cloudy day, and 30 degrees warmer on a sunny day, so they are just as warm...or warmer....in the greenhouse during the day than they would be if I was sprouting them inside the house. I cannot tell if the nighttime low temps are keeping them from getting bigger in the daytime high temps. I thought they'd sprout and grow slower, and maybe they have.....but it is a marginal difference. Isn't it crazy? We want to sprout them and get them growing but we don't want them too big too quickly.

For me, peas are like potatoes....they grow very well in February and March, but then they'll sometimes get slapped around by a very cold spell in April when they are blooming. Unlike the potatoes, though, they won't freeze back to the ground. They''ll just abort their flowers so you lose a week or so of progress while waiting for them to flower again.

Larry, If it is any comfort to you, no matter when I start anything and everything, with each item I almost always start wishing I had started it either earlier or later. I call it the Goldilocks syndrome.....with our highly erratic winter weather, it is hard to feel like we've gotten things just right.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 2:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

since we are talking potatoes may I ask a question

we are planning to do some in big containers, by big I mean upwards of 40-50 gallons. Our garden space is limited so this was next best. I had an idea to use screened mulch and compost/cow manure in a ratio of 50/50. Do you think that would work? Trying to lower the cost of filling 3 or 4 50 gallon pots.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 3:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Zone 7, plant your potatoes directly in the garden and plant them about six to eight inches deep.For spring taters, start planting in Dec and Jan. In zone six, I'd plant them eight inches deep and pack them in leaf litter, too.

Good success for spring potatoes for me (zone 7b) begins with planting a dozen or so in the middle or end of November and planting a dozen or so once every couple weeks through the first of Feb. The tops of the dozen earliest plantings have come up for me and are a bit frost burned, now, but otherwise looking healthy. (140 taters, total)

Planted onion sets in early February (150 ea.) Planted a bit deeper than normal (close to four inches deep). Just now poking up a wee bit here and there.

It worked for me last year. We had good results from the onions, and some tasty spring taters, too. The garlic was heavenly.

Planting anything in any kind of pot/tray and leaving it outside, this time of year? Yeah, you're planning for failure. There's not enough soil to insulate your roots, sets, the cuttings, seeds, etc.. Interesting experiment, though - trying to figure ways to keep the pots and trays from freezing solid while leaving them outside day and night...

Strawberries are planted in our garden, now, and looking healthy (40 ea.). Last year's asparagus seeds are growing like weeds (35 ea.). Rosemary is still green and healthy (one ea.). Basil doesn't like this weather at all. Snow peas look good (over 60 ea.). Garlic looks great (approx. 160 ea.).

Early spinach is up and still healthy and has already been thinned. Lettuce is poking up, now. Plus the radishes are showing up, too. A little early on some of this, but you gotta take some chances...and experiment a little. I may have to replant some of the lettuce. I'll give them a couple more weeks before I replant.

Yes, a week of sustained 24/7 freezing temps would just about wipe me out. But...we don't really get that around here this time of year. That means I can take some chances here and there. It also means that I get to grow veggies all year around and harvest them eight to ten months out of the year.

Oh...I also save seeds from the garden. iow, I can afford to take some chances. ...lots and lots of seeds to play with.

    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 5:50PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would not want to give anyone the idea that I am leaving my flats out side in this kind of weather. I just carried the flat outside and sit it on the ice so I could get the onions and potatoes in the same picture. I have not put anything in the ground this year except onions. I do however have some potatoes that I planted last fall that have not come up yet. I dug down and found one about a week ago and it looked good, the others may, or may not have rotted because it has been very wet here most of the winter.


    Bookmark   February 22, 2013 at 6:49PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Just a side note. A couple of years ago about this time of year at the nursery we decided to see if we could sell started potato plants so we made up several flats in 4 inch container. Later in the year we had a lot of them to throw out. I was amazed at the amount of quarter to one inch size potatoes that were produced in those small containers. Enough that is was worth while to pull them instead of just pitching the whole plants.

    Bookmark   February 23, 2013 at 2:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I dont know if it is true, but i thought i had read that potatoes will not produce on any of the vine that has turned green.

If that is in fact true then you are limiting yourself to a very small root area that will produce potatoes.

I may be totally wrong, might try to find more info.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 3:17AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I will cut some of the green vines off and see what happens. This is more of an experiment anyway. I have got to do something with these potatoes anyway, because I only have room for 4 flats in the house and something has to go to make room for plants that will be potting up soon.

Robert, thanks for bring that up. I hope the Oil Patch does not keep you so busy this year that you cant garden a little.


    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 9:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

MK Don't think anyone answered your question about filling your pots. I think the mix you mentioned will work fine. I have also mentioned here that although you're not "supposed to" add plain garden dirt to containers, I have done it for years, as much as 25%. Good garden soil, not clay. I always look for earthworms to add to the pots. The earthworms help prevent the settling that garden soil can do. In a pot with potatoes, you'll be digging into it anyway so you will be mixing it up. Come back and let us know how it works.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 10:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

MK - Have you considered buying a bag of mulch to add to the bottom of the container first. That would take up some of the space, hold moisture, and the mix would work down in between to give the roots a place to go. I think as long as you have 10 inches of potting mix on top, you should be OK, and a bag of pine mulch is a lot cheaper than potting soil.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 3:45PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

mul and sooner

thanks for the advice. that for sure gives us some ideas.

thank you so much


    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 7:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I thought I post an up-date on my attempt to plant early.

Nothing has gone well so far. My onions are still hanging in there, but not growing, maybe growing a few roots.

It stopped raining late yesterday but it is cold, it looks as though the snow will go to the north on us, which makes me glad.

In a very light mist I went ahead and planted the flat of potatoes that I had placed the potting soil on. I have made at least two mistakes, first, it was too cold to try to start anything. Second, I was experimenting with mixing composted cow manure, compost, two different types of potting soil, and two other things that I dont even know what they are. I got the texture very good, it takes and holds water just the way I wanted it to,(a little too heavy) it even takes water well when the soil is dry. I think one of the down sides is that the manure and damp soil helps to create mold.

I will show a picture of the bottom of potatoes from the flat. I will not be n a hurry to try this again, and if do I will place one potato in one newspaper tube and have the tube approx. 6" deep.(it is really not worth the extra work)

P.S. I did not use any sulfur

    Bookmark   February 26, 2013 at 11:36AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Starting a small pecan orchard
Hello all, Wanted to say thanks for all the good info...
check in, all ok? sure was windy and lots of hail
All quiet here now, near NW 14 and Villa. Sure hope,...
Gogi berry bush
3 years ago I was gifted a tiny gogi berry plant. ...
Organic straw
Anyone know of a source for organic straw? I want to...
Need straw
I checked with Ellison's and K&K Nursery (both...
Sponsored Products
Progress Lighting Outdoor Lighting. Onion Lantern Collection Textured Black 4-li
Home Depot
Glomar Wall Mounted 1-Light Outdoor Old Bronze Onion Wall Lantern with Clear
$33.99 | Home Depot
Small,Medium,Large Onion Jars (Set of 3)
Wusthof 2-pc. Mincing Set
$39.95 | FRONTGATE
Cape Cod Large Sienna Bronze Outdoor Wall Mount
$299.00 | Bellacor
Traditional Cornbread Dressing
$72.00 | Horchow
Cape Cod Small Sienna Bronze Outdoor Wall Mount
$149.00 | Bellacor
Trans Globe 69901 Coach Lantern - 9W in. - 69901 BK
$112.10 | Hayneedle
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™