A zone 8/9 onion growing thread

Meadowlark

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For decades I've always grown my table onions from plants. Here in Texas we grow short day onions and of these the 1015 derived varieties have proven to be superior. The onion plants are started from seed by commercial growers in mid-October in the RIO Grand Valley of Texas and harvested for sale to customers all over in early November.

This year for a number of reasons, I've decided to grow some from seed myself to compare to the commercially grown plants. I planted some 1015 super sweet, Texas Grano, and vidalia onions from seed back in mid-Oct...shown below:

1015 super sweet

10 15 super sweet.JPG




Texas Grano

texas grano.JPG


Vidalia

vadalia onions.jpg



Side by side with my seed started on the right vs the commercially grown transplants center:

seeded vs commercial.JPG



The commercial transplants are pretty sad now but soon they will perk up and grow. I have to believe, however, the seeded onions will fare much better without being harvested, starved for soil nutrients and water, and transplanted. Bothe will be harvested next May and I'll update this thread for those interested.
 
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I grew some Texas Grano transplants early this year and whatever lived grew very well/big but I lost a lot of plants to the transplanting process for some reason. They are very good tasting onions.
 

Meadowlark

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I grew some Texas Grano transplants early this year and whatever lived grew very well/big but I lost a lot of plants to the transplanting process for some reason. They are very good tasting onions.
Yes they are very good...but if you liked those try some 1015y super sweet. Amazing tasting big onion.
 
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They reckon south east England where I live is 7-8, with the provisio that we have an offshore weather system.

I have grown from both sets and seed in the past. When I grew from seed I started them between Nov and Jan in the greenhouse, planting them out end of feb-march. The earlier planted ones did better.
A favourite from seed is Red Baron, I have not come across red onions from sets, though I expect they are there if you look.
This year I came across some Japanese onion sets, which overwinter and harvest early, they are looking good so far.
 
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Are you anywhere near us Oliver in Kent, between Dover and Canterbury?
 
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No, if I understand your question. Perhaps you could elaborate a bit, please.
I wondered myself when I first looked at the pictures, then when I looked closely I realised they were all too regularly spaced to be scattered seed. When I have done it I used a 12x12 block of seed cells. Looking at your dates for commercial growers I also realised that they are selling actual, growing plants. When I talk about growing from sets these are onions sowed in situ close together so they only produce small bulbs about an inch across. These are then heat treated to stop them running to seed and sold as 'sets' to be planted out in early Spring.
 

Meadowlark

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... when I looked closely I realised they were all too regularly spaced to be scattered seed. ...
That would be completely incorrect. The seeded onions pictured have all been thinned more than once from the original planting and those "thinnings" were replanted in empty space. I will be thinning again perhaps multiple times in order to allow space for these anticipated 6-inch dia. onions to have room to expand.

The commercial plants do offer an advantage in that no thinning is required assuming you plant them with correct spacing initially.

... Looking at your dates for commercial growers I also realised that they are selling actual, growing plants. ...

That is correct. The commercial plants are sold in bundles of about 60-70 plants each. The harvesting process cuts off most of the plant roots with just a little remaining. That and being out of the ground for water and nutrients for several weeks tends to "set" the plants back.

...When I talk about growing from sets these are onions sowed in situ close together so they only produce small bulbs about an inch across. These are then heat treated to stop them running to seed and sold as 'sets' to be planted out in early Spring.
Sets are far inferior to plants in my experience in terms of growing large super sweet onions. The sets are also prone to rapid bolting which significantly hurts bulb size, taste, and storability.

My little experiment will tell me which is best... "seeds" or "plants" ... as I long ago ruled out sets. So far, it has been more work with the "seeds" option because of the labor of thinning. However, the result thus far has been spectacular with the seeded onions far superior in health to the "plants" at this point. Next spring will give me the final answer I seek.
 

Meadowlark

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Boxing Day here is the traditional time to start giant onion seeds in England.
That would be the day after Christmas?

Here these short-day onions which reach 6-inch diameter and can weigh over 2 pounds are "bred" to be started from seed in mid-Oct. Thus, the name 1015 onions.

If I waited until box day to plant, the harvest would be significantly reduced due to bolting...I know this from experience. The early start date enables a strong root system to be developed which can better tolerate our rapidly increasing temps in spring.

People here are always complaining that their onions bolt and/or do not make big bulbs, and it is almost always due to late planting.
 

Meadowlark

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Did you saw seeds directly where onions are today?
On further review, perhaps yes is the answer. I sowed the onion seeds in mid-Oct and that is where those onions are today.... where the seeds landed. I did perform several thinnings but the vast majority of the seeded ones haven't been transplanted. I hope that answers the question.
 

zigs

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That would be the day after Christmas?

Yes, sorry, didn't think.

Boxing day (26th December) was traditionally the day the churches opened the poor boxes (charity boxes) and gave the money to the poor people of the parish like us 😁

They don't do it anymore.
 

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