Tag Archives: onion plants

Day 2, Onions

Celebrating Ten Hours of Daylight in Everett, Washington

Still recovering and taking it easy. That and I’m TRYING to not do too much too soon in the Garden.

Onions 1
My tradition has always been to plant onion seed in mid January. By mid-February I am usually giving my onions their first “hair cut” but I am just getting started this year (2018). In addition to Torpedo (my favorite summer onion because it can be used at any stage) and New York (a storage onion that I am successful with in Everett, Washington), I thought I also had seed to start some Alisa Craig, a sweet onion that we grew for the first time last season (2017). LOVE! I am pretty sure I can pick them up downtown Everett at the Natural Foods Co-op… if they ever decide to put out their seed racks.

You can grow onion from seed! Here is what you need and what to do.

  1.  Find a 4-inch pot. Four inches is the minimum. Any pot will work, they are not going to live here very long.
  2.  Onion Seed: this is actually the fun part. Order from your favorite catalog, or find a packet on a seed rack. I am always amazed at all the different varieties. Try something new! The only onion I do not start in late winter is Washington’s famous Walla Walla. They need to be started in August, not February. Otherwise, go wild!
  3. Potting Soil: It really is ok to just scoop some from your healthy garden but you can also buy potting soil or special seed starting soil. Your onions will not care. What ever you choose, I find it helpful to wet it before planting in it.
  4.  Optional: If you have a heat mat (NOT a heating pad like you might use on your neck) your seeds will sprout as soon as 3 days. Vermiculite is nice to cover onion seed. It keeps moisture near the seeds and makes it easy to see those pretty green sprouts
  5. Plant your onion seed: Fill your pot (with moist soil) up to a half inch from the top. Sprinkle on your seed, cover with more soil or vermiculite (about a quarter inch deep). Label you pot. Wait for sprouts!

New York It was another beautiful afternoon. I lasted a little longer then yesterday AND I did not hurt as much when I did come in.

Artichokes are on the schedule for day 3, Monday the 12th. If you are doing the New Testament in 2018 (#NTin2018) with me, we will be reading Mark chapter 3

Debs, recovering in Everett, WA.


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February 13th, January check-list done

I hope doing January in February does not describe my season! Usually I am so anxious to get out and get dirty, but I’ve been hanging back a bit this year. FINALLY got things checked off of my list.

2february-14-2017-5 I did manage to get my onions started, even put up a video! They are doing what they do. Joy! What I am late on is moving them out to the green house. It isn’t horrible when onions stretch for the light of a window, I’m going to clip them off anyway. And it has been freezing the first couple of weeks of February. It will not be long before they stand up straight in the light of the green house.

2february-13-2017-1 Next on the list is Winter Sow. Pretty sure I missed that window. Instead I just started small trays of both curly and Italian leaf parsley. I also started a small tray of artichokes. My big, beautiful, three year old artichokes froze to the ground last season. Just in case it was more then just the tops, I started a new tray.

2february-13-2017-3 By this time of year I am usually looking for that first tiny radish or micro green for my bento. This year I am just introducing baby seed to soil.

There are scallions, spinach, mixed Asian greens, radishes and cilantro. C’mon spring!

I am ending with an older video on what to do with those onion plants once they are a little bigger then threads. By the way, I googled the nameless dandelion tool mentioned in the video. It is called a Fishtail Weeder. I find it useless for weeding. (I have a hand shovel with a “fishtail.” The curved blade provides leverage to lift up tap-roots) The video features leeks but leeks and onions are planted the same way. Hope you have some raisinettes on hand. This is too short for popping corn.

1january-30-217-journal-2 Next: It is already February 15 as I post this and I have started checking chores off of this list… but that is another post.

Now, get out and get muddy! …unless you have a greenhouse. February 15, 2017 in Everett: the few days of sun and warm weather disappear again. We are back to rain with occasional showers. 52/47 F, 100% chance of rain. If you need to go out, you WILL get wet. 10 hours, 17 minutes from sun up (7:14 AM) to sun down (5:32 PM) The Snow Moon is waning. Remember to pray for the farmers and families in the Sacramento Valley who may be loosing everything! Maybe we should all plant a bigger garden this year.

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Root Division of Tarragon

Spring at The Toy Box Suburban Farm means dividing Tarragon.

So many tarragon lovers take cuttings of mature stems. Honestly I’ve never tried that because early in February, when there isn’t much to do on a NorthWestern urban farm, dividing up a pot of Tarragon is a pleasant way to count down the days until Spring. It is a simple, no fuss way to spend a chilly day in an (almost) warm greenhouse.

The video starts with the onions getting their first hair cut… hang in there for the Tarragon.

February 6, 2016 Weather February Garden To-Do’s

  • Make a tray of “soil-blocks”
  • Start blocks of broccoli, cauliflower and peas
  • Plant Fava Beans
  • Start a mini tray of lettuces
  • Finish (or start) garden plan

In Everett, Washington we are less then 15 minutes shy of the “ten hours of daylight” time. Assuming the weather co-operates, things start growing in ten hours of daylight! Whoot!

Debs…. off to make a Leek Tart with a few of those fat leeks standing proud in the garden and the eggs the chickens are still laying (Thanks Foodie Laura).

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Last weekend of January

January 30, 2016 (2)
January was good for a weekend farmer, bring on February.

Actually it is nice to only have to sweat over my journal. This last weekend in January is cold. Not back east cold, but I’m not back east. It has been raining buckets. The ground is squishy and the chicken run, usually low maintenance with a thick layer of straw to turn into spring compost, stinks because of the mild weather and rain. I’m going to need to take care of that well before spring. Fava beans are here and waiting for the crocus to show, broccoli, cauliflower and peas are all ready to plant!

From the Winter Garden

January 29, 2016 (2)

Flowering Brussels Sprouts a.k.a Kalette

Did I mention that the local gang of thug deer have been eating my winter crops? They knocked down an artichoke and topped all of the leeks. Not a huge deal, but it still gets my goat!

Those spicy winter greens have been growing in the mild PNW. A good poppy-seed-balsamic dressing seems perfect for their winter heat.

We have kalette… now what? The seed was very expensive and it took forever to grow. Now I need to do something with it. Any ideas?

January 29, 2016 (4) Garlic on purpose! I do not remember what happened in 2014. School I think. But if it had not been for forgotten, unharvested garlic, left in the ground, there would not have been any garlic for 2015. It got planted on purpose and I have neat rows of our favorite seasoning for 2016. Whoo-hoo!

In the Green House

January 29, 2016 (8) It is starting to look like a sanctuary again. It also smells better. No matter what the weather, Ray’s potting bench is pleasant to work at. The weather has been so mild that the onions are already living in the greenhouse. Every day I make at least two trips out there to carry the chamomilelobelia, and alyssum out and back in again at night. I grow most of my chamomile as winter sown plants, but I thought I’d try some on the heat mat… no difference, might as well save some energy and winter sow them.

January 29, 2016 (5) The onions are ready for their first hair cut. They look cute with their little black seed caps but if they are cut (a little less then half… do not go below any visible brackets) then they put more energy into girth rather then height. Trust me, they will do more then survive if you trim them back. Thicker onions are easier to transplant then threads.

January 29, 2016 (7) This pot of tarragon is about the perfect size to divide into more plants. I just need to collect and wash the pots they will go into. Like mint, tarragon spreads underground. It is not as aggressive as mint and it will not survive really cold temperatures. About April there will be a handful of stone pots filled with graceful boughs of licorice scented tarragon. What happens to it after that is up to me… or you if you happen to get one of them.

January 29, 2016 (6) Every year I worry that the seed that I have saved is not going to do well. Seed companies always talk about superior viability. I don’t know what makes them superior. All I know is that the pods of seed heads that I leave in the greenhouse to finish drying before I thresh them always do well for us. This is the little greenhouse bed I planted earlier in January. The French Breakfast radishes and the red (beaujolais) spinach from seed that I saved shot right up. I’ll take it! By the way, that is not mildew or mold on the bed, it is slug bait.

January 30, 2016 weather The farm is still looking seriously bleak. We have our bright spots and tend to focus on them but April-May still seems like a long way away.  After the “River of Rain” that invaded Everett, we have already had to empty the rain gauge. On this last weekend of January we have measured about 7.5-inches of rain and 0 of snow. Very unusual. The Almighty bless you!


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Scratch the Gardening Itch; January

The Maritime Garden in January…

You cannot just look at all the seed catalogs showing up at the house and not want to start SOMETHING. The sun always comes out between “systems” to call us out to the garden. It is really too cold to do much but here is what we can do in January (Everett, Washington)

  1. Start onions, shallots and leeks from seed. If you have seed, 4-inch plastic pots, potting soil (I use what I find in last years flower pots) and a heat mat for seeds, then you can grow any kind of onion you want. At The Toy Box  we usually grow New York Early for winter storage and the pretty red Italian Tropea for a summer onion. I usually try something new every year.
  2. Winter Sow herbs, artichokes and any “difficult to grow from seed” plants. The only difficult thing about winter sowing is patience.
  3. Grow a pot or three of micro greens. 
  4. Scallions, radishes, and Asian greens will be slow but they will grow in a pot or box in the green house. I love picking something bright and fresh for my bentos and winter dishes. We have also grown lettuces but tender lettuce suffers from extreme cold and radiant heat of an unheated green house. The slugs come to clean them up, which always makes me madder then a hatter. I start spinach in the same box but it is hit or miss because of how hot it can get in a small green house. Give them a try if you have the space, by March you will be happy that you did.
  5. Keep harvesting winter vegetables from the garden. We have leeks, beets, herbs, kale and some broccoli that is hanging on. We also have turnips, and various greens. Neither my  celeriac or carrots survived past August because of the heat and drought of summer 2015
  6. ….what’s that you say? You do not have any winter veggies in your garden? Now is the time to start planning your 2016 garden, make room for them.

Debs…. who really wants to apologize for the quality of this first video in over two years. But I am laughing too hard. We will get better!

January 9, 2015 (1)

The Garden Journal

January 16, 2016 and I am glad we got out while it was pretty out to make the video last weekend. Today it is raining…. cold, bone chilling rain. After all, it is January.  50/44 F but it is so damp it feels much colder. Sunrise at 7:53; sunset at 4:44 giving us 8 hours and 9 minutes of day light. It looks like it will be cold and wet for the rest of the week.

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The Toy Box has produced beautiful onions every season. Confidence with growing onion seed does not belong to me. I know I can get inexpensive onion plants but I like the harder to find onions, which means expensive.  Since Ray put up the green house I am going to try growing my own transplants this year.

Mixed bed of onions and broccoli in the Toy Box.

Mixed bed of onions and broccoli in the Toy Box.

I do have some older seed but due to my lack of confidence I want to start fresh.

Tiny Cipollini Onions, part of the 2012 harvest last September

Tiny Cipollini Onions, part of the 2012 harvest last September

Ray and I are in love with the tiny cippolini onions we have always got as plants. To buy this type of onion from a grocery store makes them seem like a silly indulgence. Then again, paying a premium price for plants is an indulgence we can no longer afford. They are wonderful with roast beef or chicken. TSC suggests using them as part of the vegetable mix for shish-kabob. Simply roasted in the oven with herbs and olive oil alongside a nice bean soup is fantastic!

Personally, my favorite onion in summer is the light red torpedo, also sold as Tropea. I once saw Lidia use one on her show just as I was reading about them in a garden catalog. Not too sweet, they have just enough bite in salads and summer food to remind me why I love to cook garden food. I use them at all stages through the summer. They store ok but the flavor is best right out of the ground.

For winter I have always favored leeks, the fatter the better. Now that I am back to school I have not been using vegetables that are still in the ground. The taste of Leeks are better than cold storage onions but if they are still buried in frozen soil where I am not likely to go dig them on a icy winter day after school, then maybe I should re think them?

Tiny onion sprouts

Tiny onion sprouts

Too cold to start any seed today. There is a new moon tonight with the ominous name, Wolf Moon. (The Hebrew name is a less frightening Shvat.) We are getting up before the sun and ending our days early. All the while bundling up against the icy cold. Sunrise at 7:55 AM only to set 8 hours and 44 minutes later at 4:39 PM

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