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onions early demise

Posted by rokosz ny (My Page) on
Sat, Jul 27, 13 at 12:17

I planted onion sets in mid-April. Every one of 'em came up - even the soft iffy ones (~76). They flourished in freshly turned earth with a light cover of leaf mulch. Then the heat came. I did start regularly watering about 5 or 6 days before the end of the heat. I'm presuming I was too late to keep them going.

All this coincided with the 2 weeks or so of 90 deg days and about 80days since planting. I don't know the cultivar -- its some sort of German one maybe Stuttgarter.

I noticed first that nearly all the 'leaves' were beginning to lie down. The leaf mulch had incorporated and the soil had settled so that some crowns of the onions were exposed. I carefully added an inch or two of soil/compost to the bed, being very careful with the 'leaves'. They have continued to brown.

I'm guessing, during the heat I didn't water nearly enough. Combined with thin soil cover and hot sun that put the kabosh on 'em. A few, today, still have green tops and are almost trying to stand up. I pulled a "dead" one: it was about 2" diameter, firm and wet when chopped. In short, small but fine.

So, Will these puppies revive this season with better attention to watering and as the weather cools? Or should I pull whatevers there for harvest? If I left them, and mulch heavily -- could they stay in the ground dormant until next growing season? Or could I pull them and store the smallest ones now for next year?

I ask because:
I tried some onion seeds for scallions last year and that seemed a bust. Late in the year I found some stray "onion" sprouts, tended them this year and got baseball bat sized tops. I thought it was from onion sets I tried last year -- turns out they're monster scallions and probably from those seeds.

I have a great appreciation and wonder for the early settlers and their ability to survive without infrastructure!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: onions early demise

I don't think your onions are giving up early, because bulbing and withering of tops is triggered by long days. Your opportunties to increase bulb size ended about a month ago, when the plants were actively growing. Now all you can do is pull and cure them.

Bunching onions that get big eventually divide into a cluster.You can separate and replant them.

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