Question from Kenny:
I have several thousand short-day sets from DVG for my first trial planting. Would you like 60 or so (about 8oz’s to trial in your S-CAL garden? I would be glad to share these few with you. More if you need more
Answer from Pat:
Yes I remember you and many thanks for your kind offer but I have already planted my vegetable garden and it is full up. It is small-space now—just a raised bed— and filled with my winter crops: cole crops including broccoli, cauliflower, and collards, (parsley and sage left from summer) 1 white and two red potatoes, and Sugar Snap Peas—all of which I planted over three weeks ago just before leaving on vacation. In January I will purchase a few bare-root Texas Grano from one of our local nurseries. January is the right month for planting bare-root, short-day onions here and November is the time to plant them from seeds. If we plant short-day onions now in November we must plant from seed, I am not sure sets will work the same, and anyway I don’t have room for this right now. The reason we plant from seeds now is that the temperature and day-length will stimulate leafy growth throughout winter and then later will stimulate the plants to make a big bulb in June with a thin top that will fall over. Then we stop watering, the bulbs dry off and they will keep well. I will put the bare-root Texas Grano or Granex in at the correct time for bareroot—which is January— as soon as I harvest out the cauliflowers. I love home-grown cauliflower, but as you know it’s just a one-time thing and then one must pull out the root and compost it but this will give me space for planting the onions at just the right time. With brocolli you can harvest out the center and then continue harvesting side sprouts all winter until time to plant the summer crops. Collards also continue bearing leaves all winter. I like homegrown mustard too but had no room for it this year.
Regarding the correct timing for planting short-day onions here I learned this many years ago from a smart ex-farmer who watched what they do in the onion fields adjacent to his Vista, California garden and then he did the same in his own garden. By learning things like this from experts I have been able to put many little-known facts into my books and thus help many home gardeners enjoy success instead of failure.
Being a farmer yourself I am sure you agree with me that timing is half the battle in growing vegetables. We must adhere to the correct timing for our state or region and obey the planting dates. Since the temperatures in northeast Texas are different than here, so are the planting dates. Also, I do not believe that sets of short-day onions would mature correctly here. These are as you know biennial plants. If they have already made a bulb one year (this year) I think they will not do that again but instead will flower and go to seed next year or in other words bolt. Nonetheless, if you want to send me just 1 (no more!) sets, I can plant that one and see what happens as an experiment. As you know, before you straightened me out I thought it was impossible to make a set of a short-day onion because they grow all winter when planted from seeds here in fall and they don’t ever go naturally dormant here as long-day or medium-day length onions will do in cold-winter climates. You explained to me that farmers can force short-day onions to make sets by growing them with tight spacing, but I didn’t know this before and I am not sure what effect it will have on the growth of the big bulb.
What are your average winter temperatures? How much rain falls in winter where you live? And when do you plan to plant? I live in a frost-free climate here where cool-season crops continue to grow all winter long, so I think conditions are different. Thanks so much for writing.
No related articles.