The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Starting onions inside

Stump dirt Based on last year's onion experiments, I've decided to start my storage onions inside this winter.  The other option that worked well was to grow the onions under quick hoops in soil doctored with biochar, but I only have one bucket of the precious amendment and am not sure I want to "waste" it on onions.  (My quick hoops are all full of overwintering greens anyway.)

So I headed out to the old apple tree for some stump dirt to use as potting soil.  I put the stump dirt directly into my seed starting flats, wet it down, then lightly compressed the organic matter with my fingers.  After sprinkling seeds on top, I added a thin layer of composted horse manure ---  sometimes I use stump dirt alone as potting soil, but the apple tree's rotted center didn't seem quite as dark and rich as the organic matter I mine out of the beech tree further away.

Assuming they come up and grow, I'll transplant tiny onion sets at the beginning of March.  Although it seems rough to throw them into unprotected ground so early, last year's transplants did find even without a quick hoop.  Maybe 2012 will be the year we finally delete the last storebought vegetable from our diet?

Our chicken waterer never spills or fills with POOP.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Why do you start onions from seed when you have egyptian onions?
Comment by Errol Sat Feb 4 10:21:42 2012

Great question. Part of it is just that I'm lazy --- Egyptian onion bulbs rarely get more than an inch in diameter, and that's a lot of work to peel a cup or two of onions that I use in most dishes.

But it's also a matter of taste. I think Egyptian onions don't taste like storage onions. They're a little less sweet and a little more bitey --- a bit like a mix between onions and garlic. So I like the sweet storage onions when cooking certain dishes.

I hope that potato onions may one day fill that niche, but I'm still experimenting with getting them bigger than Egyptian onions....

Comment by anna Sat Feb 4 10:31:41 2012

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