I started my first onions last Saturday, 1/23/2016, during the blizzard, and I started more onions and leeks today 1/30/2016. Onions and Leeks are both alliums and have very similar growing requirements. I started the leeks a little later, as if they are transplanted out in the garden too early, they can wind up bolting (going to flower), which results in a thick fiborous stem that isn't edible... at least, that's what they say -- last year, some of my leeks bolted, and harvested quickly they tasted just fine! Don't always believe the gloomy sentiments you read on websites, they don't always hold true! All the same, I would prefer them not to bolt and not have to be prematurely harvested. I was going to wait another week, but with the weather as it is, we can expect an early spring this year.
Last week I tried to sow some directly into a large tub. They started popping up a couple at a time on about the 4th day... here is a current photo:
I started them out next to a radiator, which made for fast germination. I really poured the seeds in there though -- there should be a lot more coming up.
Unfortunately as I suspected, the tub is staying way too wet for days after watering, and these seedlings could get damping off or root rot. I was trying to take a shortcut, just growing them in one tub and not trying to transplant tiny seedlings when I want them grown in a clump in the first place -- just like the bundles you buy from Dixondale or other sources. These are likely to be ok anyway, but today I decided to start seeds in a seed starting tray, and try to transplant them later. I would give them all lots of space -- but I just don't have it under my 4' long T5 Jump Start grow light, which was packed last year. I suspect without the grow light, growing onions indoors would be virtually impossible. They look like they get extremely leggy.
The varieties are Ailsa Craig for long-day large sweet onions, which are very popular, and Cabernet for a red variety (there were not many good options for long red day onions that were available on Johnny's where I got all my seeds this year and last year -- they all had a long DTM/days to maturity -- which is tough for onions as they may not get big enough to make big bulbs by the time bulbing is triggered by the long days, as onions are highly day-length sensitive.) The leeks are Megaton, which looks promising. Last year I grew a Dixondale long-day sampler, which had Walla Walla, Ringmaster, and Red Zeppelin. The Walla Walla did ok, the white Ringmaster did terrible -- they were tiny seedlings that didn't take off -- and the Red Zeppelin was so-so. This year I wanted to try growing from seed, but if you want to buy ready to go plants they are cheap and easy from Dixondale, who supply many resellers: http://www.dixondalefarms.com/product/long_day_sampler/long_day_onions
Here are my seeds sown today, about 5 seeds per cell.
Here is a cool video from Cornell of onions germinating:
You can read more here at Gardenweb:http://forums.gardenweb.com/discussions/3627591/seed-starting-time
I still have almost a month until my next sowing, which will be artichokes. The peppers are next, and that isn't until mid March.
About this site
My name is Peter and I am a gardener in the Lower Hudson Valley. This is my third year growing a very large garden, from seed. This is my journal.