onions

in my continuing learning about growing onions...
while going out this past week to collect onion tops/seeds to bring them in to dry (to prevent them from scatterings seeds all over the place) i was surprised (in a good way :) ) to find some of the onion stalks supporting decently good sized onions.
the stalks on some of them are offset to the side (similar to how tulips grow) and they can be cut off and left intact to dry or you can pull it all apart and use it as desired.
and of course, some of them are small and not much of anything other than the stalk for the flowers.
but i was surprised to pull up an onion flower stalk to find a five inch onion bulb attached.
this year was the first year i directly sowed onion seeds and while many of them sprouted and i thinned them as recommended i planted them too close to some other plants and they were over grown. i should have a pretty good supply now of both seeds and starts for next year's crop if i can decide where to put them soon and get them moved.
then i just need to make sure they do not get planted too closely to other plants.
in related news, i think i found out what i was doing wrong previous years for growing the onions. they were not bulbing out very well.
we plant three kinds of onions (red, yellow, white) along with some others that are supposed to get quite big (we've had some over 7 inches across). pretty much the biggest mistake seems to be planting them too deeply. the second mistake is probably putting the nutrient layer of worms/worm castings down too deep.
this year i did get the large yellow onions planted higher, but they started slow and are only now getting any bulb going on them. when i pull them out the roots do not go very deep at all so they are not getting the full benefit of the nutrient layer.
next year i will raise that nutrient layer up and see how they respond.
in other related news. when planting onion sets i come across a few that are questionable so i do not plant them in the main group and set them aside. these are ones that are very small, shrivelled, covered with fungus, or even too large. the best results come from a patch that is planted with sets of a certain size. too large and they flower, too small and they don't get very far along.
these questionable onions then get planted in some corner and some of them end up growing just fine. life is tenacious and bulbs are a great store of energy that gets used to start new roots and from those roots can be enough to keep the green shoots coming and if you can get a green shoot then you will later get a viable bulb (even if it isn't as large as the rest of them). this bulb can be planted out again the following season if you can store them. i just leave them in the ground the extra year. if they flower then i get more seeds. here and there around the gardens i have these various spots of onions.
and in yet another bit of fun news about onions that ties in nicely to the recent science article about garlic and virus transmission. apparently, plants which set seeds rid themselves of virus infections because the virus is rarely transmitted to the seeds. garlic, not setting seed often at all is thus a common vector of plant virus...
well, one of the onions that flowered had on top the kind of similar bulbul among the seeds as seen in the hard neck garlic. so i've set that flower top apart along with the small onions and will see how they progress. if this will self-perpetuate or not. if so this would be evidence of a mutation or devolution (reverting to simpler type).
songbird
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