Tag Archives: onions

Sputtering towards Spring

Organized workshop

In between the unusual arctic blasts that continue to pummel the area I’ve been quietly preparing for the inevitable coming thaw. We’re now back in another round of near record-low temperatures, but before that happened I got some much needed clean-up done as well as set up a really simple coldframe/mini-greenhouse for seed starting.

Ever since I brought my first load of stuff out to the property there’s essentially been an amorphous pile of stuff including everything from private affects and clothes to tools and materials all piled together with little rhyme or reason. It was under tarps strung between trees for the first 3 years, and then about a year ago it moved underneath the protection of the new shed.

Organized shed

Well, I finally went through ALL of the boxes of stuff and organized at least roughly. I can’t tell you how many things I found that I’d spent crazy amounts of time looking for.

The shed is a long way from done, and I’ll have to move some of the stuff again to work on the root cellar, but it’s so wonderful to easily find the tools and materials for projects and then know exactly where they go when I’m done. There’s an actual place for that kind of object now!  Also, I finally have space to pull in a vehicle to work on it when I need to.  Will wonders never cease!

Simple Coldframe

Hay and straw bale cold frame mini-greenhouseI made a rectangle from 8 old hay bales someone gave me and then stacked another 3 bales on the north wall of it.  Then I put down about 6″ of straw within a rectangle to insulate the floor and then draped a clear plastic drop cloth over a few 2×2 boards.  I secured the drop cloth with some of the scrap chunks of granite I have for various projects, mainly the footing around the straw bale buildings.

I also put a couple of the bigger dark pieces of granite inside of it, propped up against the back wall.  These chunks of granite are thermal mass that moderate the temperature, absorbing heat and keeping it from getting too hot during the day, and then re-radiating that heat back out at night.

Opened coldframe with onion trays

Today the outside temperature topped out at 26F, but inside the bale greenhouse it was 80F.  I’ve been bringing the seedlings inside at night since it’s been getting into the single digits and it gets below freezing inside the greenhouse, but soon it’ll protect against mild frosts and I can start getting tomato and pepper soil blocks started in there along with the onion trays I’ve already got growing.

Eventually there will be a greenhouse attached to the front of the common house and I won’t need to set a variation of this up every year.


Starting Onions

I started some onions from seed today.  I used some of the peat pots instead of the soil blocks.  Soil blocks aren’t ideal just because of the way onions grow and how many we’d like to grow.  Each of the pots here have 20-30 seeds in them and will be pulled apart for planting when it’s time.

We haven’t gotten very large bulbs the last few years, and since we eat a lot of them I’d really like to solve the problem.  I originally tried starting from seeds without much luck, and the last couple years I grew from sets.  Unfortunately I picked the largest sets to start with thinking they had the most stored energy and would make the largest bulbs, but the opposite is true because the biggest sets go to flower instead of making bulbs.

I also read that onions were light feeders and did not need especially good soil, but other things I’ve read since say that to get good-sized bulbs they do need good soil.  We did get plenty of green onions in the poorer soil.  I tried inter-planting them with other crops previously, but this time I will give them their own space and make sure they stay well-watered.