Friday, January 22, 2010

The First Seeding Of The Season

Last night, Jan 21st, I started the first seeds of the season. First up was all my onions which were started on the same day I started them last year, creature of habit. This year I am planting by the sqf instead of in rows which caused a bit of confusion at first. Daphne was kind enough to message that an onion every 4" is 9 per sqf not the 16 I was thinking, I can be quite dense at times... I have allotted just under 11 sqf for storage onions & shallots this year. Given a 4" spacing I will have room for approx. 98 onions, I hope... The shallots I will space closure then 4" so extra of them were started.

This year I will be growing Armador F1 shallot, Prince F1 storage onion, Red Long of Tropea onion & Amish Bottle onion. All materials used were recycled from last year including the potting soil, cell packs, labels & tray. Most of my seed was from last year as well so I seeded five seeds per cell in hopes of growing two plants per cell. It is said that onion seed only last one year but I bet I will prove them wrong!

With the seeds all planted and watered I placed them on my heat mat under the grow light. Now to play the waiting game. Last year it took 5 days for the onions to start sprouting, this year with the older seed I am expecting it to take longer.

After the onions I decided to start an extra early tomato too. Last year I started an early tomato around Feb 14th and it produced an early crop. This year I am starting even earlier. It is another Siletz tomato, it is determinate and produces red slicers in just 52 days. Maybe I will have fruit indoors before it even goes outside.


  1. Dan, when do you plan on setting out your onion seedlings? And will you be transplanting them undercover. I was thinking of starting my onions this weekend as well but the seed packet said not to transplant until first frost free date.

  2. I'm jealous! I'm hoping my first seeds arrive the end of next week. They've all shipped but they tend to be held at the border for about 5 days or so. Oddly enough when I order them from Thailand they tend to get here sooner than from the States.

  3. Thomas - I will start putting the onions out in the cold frame when ever the weather is warm enough and then back in if it cools again. They will go in the garden some time from late march-mid april weather permitting. They can take cold so I will probably plant on the earlier side, they can always be covered with row cover if needed. I start onions a little earlier then most. They take so long to produce I think the added growth time results in bigger onions.

    Aerelonian - It does seem parcels from the states take longer then parcels arriving internationally. You could order from William Dam in Dundas, ON next time. They ship very quickly and offer a good selection.

  4. You're really getting a head start on things!I hope the earlier planting of tomatoes works out for you.

  5. I decided to do some ultra early Siletz tomatoes this year too. I have those four lovely big black containers that my sister gave me at Christmas time and want to put four Siletz tomato plants in them. Decided I would start them very early and get a bigger sized plant for ultimately potting up in those containers.

    You are inspirational in your frugal reuse supplies and in your "using up" items instead of letting them go to waste. Good work Dan!

  6. I keep thinking about the early tomato. Wintersown sent me some Siberian tomatoes that are perfect as an early tomato, but really bad as a main season one since they are determinate and quit producing by the end of July. I haven't done an early tomato in over a decade. They are so much work. Plus I don't have a real South facing window for it, just southeast or southwest, so I have to carry them back and forth if I want them to get sun all day.

  7. OOH, Mr. Early Tomato II! How exciting. I'm looking forward to trying to start my first tomatoes soon.

  8. It's always worth an early sowing of onions. Mine are nearly ready to transplant into modules. I'll put them in the unheated greenhouse. Haven't started any toms yet - I think I will sow my beefsteaks in Feb.

  9. I had to go check through my flickr photos to see how early I started onions and shallots last year. I have a photo of them just up through the soil taken on January 23rd and that worked out really well for me. It was my most successful onion crop ever. I have a little booklet/garden bulletin on onion growing and I found it very helpful in understanding how they grow. I watched them closely this year and I think their explanation is right on. They say it is important to get them in the garden as soon as possible because the onion puts all of it's energy into growing leaves until the summer solstice in June then when it detects the days shortening it starts to store the energy those leaves are making in the bulb so the larger the tops are on June 21st the larger your onion will be in the fall.

    The only problem that I had with starting things in the onion family too early was leeks. I started them the same time as the onions and they grew beautifully in the garden but they bolted and went to seed in September and I think that was because I grew them too early. I see you have some over wintering. I would suggest you use them up in July and August.

    Did you grow shallots last year? It was my first time and I grew a variety called Ambition. What surprised me was seeing them split and divide into several bulbs in the last past of the season. When I harvested them there was four plants in most locations where I had planted only one in the spring. You might want to keep that in mind when spacing them in the sqf garden. This will be my first year for a sqf garden I built six raised beds this fall and have them ready for spring planting. If you have extra seedlings left over and you like spring/green onions for salads etc you can always crowd them into a sqf and use them as you thin them out so the remainders will have room to grow.

    Really enjoy your blog.

  10. So nice to see a seed tray all prepped up and ready to go ! Didn't know onion seeds lasted only a year. Will put that to the test too.

    Starting Siletz even earlier this year, eh ? I hope this year's Mr. Early doesn't suffer the same fate as his predecessor. :P (Nom, nom, nom...)

    I think this year I'll start my earlies same time as the others and see how they compare.

  11. Reading this, I guess that I did not sow my onions too early. They have already sprouted, it took them 10 days. I’m looking forward to see how your onions will grow.

  12. I wish I could start my garden this early, but I would be overgrown by the time last frost rolls around.

    Good luck on the onions. The variety looks great.

  13. EG - I am hoping for a much warmer & dryer season then the last one. Should make the tom's and onions much happier.

    KitsapFG - I always saved the trays before but always disposed of the cells and soil. Now that I think of it, it is quite wasteful when they easily can be reused. Good luck with your early tom's!

    Daphne - I think you should give one a go, so nice to have early tomatoes. The southwest window should work well with some turning every few days.

    Ribbit - Yes, Mister Early Part II or maybe Miss Early... :-) Good luck with your tom's to come.

    Veg Heaven - Wish I had a greenhouse for my onions to move into! This year I am going to hold off on starting the main crop of tomatoes unlike last year. I will be starting the rest 6 weeks before outdoor planting.

    Dale - Thanks for all the info. Onions certainly can be a finicky crop. I think seeded onions perform much better the sets, worth the extra work.

    Miss M - I may put some caging around it this time! Pesky wildlife :-)

    vrtlarica - Onions are the one thing that benifit from an early start. Most other crops do not though, they just grow to be big monsters.

    Red - I will just have the onions and one tom growing for a while. The onions will start going in the cold frame as soon as possible. The peppers I will start in March and everything else will probably wait until 6-8 weeks before outdoor planting.