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Why can I only grow Marbles? Want Big Onions!

Posted by swede1234 4 (My Page) on
Thu, Aug 14, 14 at 20:48

We LOVE onions, use them for everything... I've tried for YEARS to grow large onions (at least as large as average in stores), but all I grow is onions the size of MARBLES!

Over the years, I've tried sets, plants, seeds, but I get the same result.... I live in a shady area, and assumed it was just not enough sun or length of day in sun, but the past two years I've had a community plot where that is not a problem... still no luck. I obviously really don't know what the heck I'm doing!

I need help... Plants, sets, or seeds.... How deep should the sets be planted... Why do the tops dry up and fall over too soon... there is still almost 2 months of growing season here in MN, and I see neighboring garden plots with still green tops... My soil had been tested by U of M, and doesn't seem to be deficient... Do I need to use extra fertilizer? If so, how much?.... What about mulch? I plant them about 4 inches apart from each other, just wide enough to get small triangular hoe between for weeding.. What about varieties? What is short season, long season plants... How much watering?

Any help you Onion and Garlic lovers can give me will be appreciated... Thanks for any help! Gary

"The days are slipping by like golden beads on the necklace of the year...." Anne of Green Gables

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Why can I only grow Marbles? Want Big Onions!

Check out

I can not say enough about how good that company has been as far my experiences go.

They have all the info you will need to grow decent onions. Their catalog lists their product ship dates by zipcode - those dates are close enough to use as a guide for when you should be planting onions in your area. Skip onion sets - only good for harvesting as green onions IMO. Start your own plants from seed if you wish, but be sure to start them at the appropriate time using varieties suited for your daylength.

I used onion sets for 30 years and always had poor results. Tried starting from seed and got mixed results. I still start unique stuff from seed but generally got tired of the hassle starting hundreds of main crop onion plants. Now I just buy the plants, follow Dixondale Farm's foolproof guidelines, and harvest quality onions. Simple as that, for me anyway.

If you decide to buy plants for next season mail order from a company such as this one, try to get other people to go in on the order as quantity purchases can really reduce the cost per bundle. I have done this and have cut bundle prices almost in half for everyone in my group.

Good Luck!

RE: Why can I only grow Marbles? Want Big Onions!

...And if you want more specific information regarding exactly how I do it, I will be happy to explain in detail. I ask that you read the planting/growing information on Dixondale Farms' website first though, because I use their recommendations plus a few of my own ideas.

Hint: It ain't that hard to grow great onions (I learned this the hard way, to my chagrin). You just need to know what you are doing and be confident that what you are doing is correct. :-)


RE: Why can I only grow Marbles? Want Big Onions!

Hi, Tom!.... I am duly impressed!.... I visited your Dixondale site and watched their video....haven't had time to look further yet, but already I was astounded, just about picking a proper variety for my area!

I had no idea about such things, I just grabbed sets off a shelf that were on sale.... Didn't know whether they were short, intermediate, or long season onions. Of course that's just one problem, but it is likely a biggie!....

I'll explore some more, and get back to your own information later.... Thanks for your help and kindness!

Take care, Gary

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature -- the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”

― Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

RE: Why can I only grow Marbles? Want Big Onions!

Gary stated, "I had no idea about such things, I just grabbed sets off a shelf that were on sale...." - What I used to do as well. The problems are that 1.) Onion sets just do not work that well in concept. 2.) Bags of onion sets sit there all piled up on shelves in a heated, well lit store, causing sprouting, stunting, rot, and other growth issues that screws up the plants' cycles. Who knows if onions sets were stored properly before they even got to the store shelves. 3.) Corporate buyers have no clue about what they are buying, they just buy stuff and it goes out to all the chains' stores irrespective of whether they will work in an area/region or not. Customers just assume that what is on the shelves will work for them. Same thing occurs regarding varieties on seed racks.

When you start to think about it, it is amazing that onion sets do as well as they do with all the mishandling.

"Didn't know whether they were short, intermediate, or long season onions." - This is incorrect and very important to get straight. There are no such things as short, intermediate, or long season onions. Onion varieties are short, intermediate, or long day. Critical to get straight, a very important concept. Minnesota is long day, short growing season. It is easy to get these terms mixed up, I still do it occasionally. :-)

If you are interested there is a long running onion thread in the GW vegetable forum regarding onions. Some folks have some nice pics as well. A lot of those who posted purchase from Dixondale. I just recently posted an update in there myself if you want to read about my onion year so far. Just use the link I included below.


Here is a link that might be useful: Onions

RE: Why can I only grow Marbles? Want Big Onions!

These are the tricks to big onions: work in cow or horse manure (composted) into planting beds, lay several drip lines per bed, water, cover with black plastic and water again with a sprinkler. Poke in good quality plants, 8 inches apart. Weed a couple times. Do not plant too deeply. Get the right onions for your zone. Plant when the early bulbs are blooming. Don't wait until May.

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