Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Onion Harvest Time: Learn How And When To Harvest Onions

The use of onions for food goes back over 4,000 years. Onions are popular cool season vegetables that can becultivated from seed, sets or transplants. Onions are an easy-to-grow and manage crop that, when properly harvested, can provide a kitchen staple through the fall and winter.
Success in Harvesting Onions
Your success in harvesting onions will depend onproper planting and care throughout the growing season. Plant onions as soon as the garden can be worked. Rich soil, consistent moisture and cool temperatures help bulb development. It is best to create hills for onions that are to be used for green onions but do not hill those to be used for bulbs.
When to Harvest Onions
In addition to good planting, you need to know when to harvest onions for the best flavor. Harvest tops for green onions as soon as they reach 6 inches in height. The longer you wait to harvest the green tops, the stronger they become.
Any bulbs that have bolted, or formed flower stalks, should be pulled and used right away; they are not good for storage.
Bulb onion harvest time can begin with onion tops naturally fall over and brown. This is usually 100 to 120 days after planting, depending on the cultivar. Onion harvest time should be early in the morning when temperatures are not too hot.
How to Harvest Onions
Knowing how to harvest onions is also important, as you do not want to damage the plants or onion bulbs. Carefully pull or dig onions up from the ground with the tops intact. Gently shake the soil from around the bulbs.
Drying and Storing Onion Bulbs
Once harvested, storing onion bulbs becomes necessary. Onions must first be dried before they can be stored. To dry onions, spread them out on a clean and dry surface in a well-ventilated location, such as a garage or a shed.
Onions should be cured for at least two to three weeks or until the tops necks are completely dry, and the outer skin on the onion becomes slightly crisp. Cut tops off to within one inch after drying is complete.
Store dried onions in a wire basket, crate or nylon bag in a place where the temperature is between 32 to 40 degrees F. Humidity levels should be between 65 and 70 percent for best results. If the location is too damp, rotting may occur. Most onions can keep for up to three months if dried and stored properly.

Growing Primrose – Primrose Plants In Your Garden

Primrose flowers (Primula polyantha) bloom in early spring, offering a variety of form, size, and color. They are suitable for use in garden beds and borders as well as in containers or for naturalizing areas of the lawn. In fact, when given the proper growing conditions, these vigorous plants will multiply each year, adding stunning colors to the landscape.
Blooming often lasts throughout summer and in some areas, they will continue to delight the fall season with their outstanding colors. Most primrose flowers seen in gardens are Polyanthus hybrids, which range in color from white, cream and yellow to orange, red and pink. There are also purple and blue primrose flowers. These perennial plants prefer damp, woodland-like conditions.
Growing Primrose Plants
Growing primrose is easy, as these plants are quite hardy and adaptable. You can find primrose perennials at most garden centers and nurseries. Look for primroses that are healthy in appearance, preferably with unopened buds.
Primroses can also be grown from seeds with an equal mixture of soil, sand and peat moss. This can be done indoors or out depending on the time of year and the climate in your area. Generally, seeds are sown indoors (outdoors in cold frame) during winter. Once seedlings have obtained their second or third leaves, they can be transplanted into the garden.
Cuttings can also be taken from some varieties during summer.
Primrose Care
Primrose perennials should be planted in lightly shaded areas with well-drained soil, preferably amended with organic matter. Set primrose plants about 6 to 12 inches apart and 4 to 6 inches deep. Water thoroughly after planting. Add a layer of mulch around the plants to help retain moisture. Continue to give your primroses thorough watering throughout the summer months, about once a week or more during periods of drought, but let off once fall approaches.
The primrose flower also appreciates light applications of organic fertilizer throughout the growing season. Keep primrose plants looking their best with regular pruning of dead leaves and spent blooms. If you want to collect the seeds of your primroses, wait until late summer or early fall before taking them. Store them in a cool, dry place until the following planting season or sow them in a cold frame.
Problems with Primrose Perennials
Slugs and snails are common pests affecting primrose plants. These can be controlled with nontoxic slug bait placed around the garden. Spider mites and aphids may also attack primroses but can be sprayed with soapy water.
If primrose plants are not getting enough drainage, they may also be prone to crown rot and root rot. This can be easily fixed by amending the soil with compost or relocating the plants to a well-drained site.
Too much moisture can also make the primrose flower susceptible to fungal infections. This can often be prevented by using good watering habits and adequate spacing between plants.
Growing primroses is easy when given the proper growing conditions and following primrose care guidelines.

Care Of Watercress: Growing Watercress Plants In Gardens

If you are a salad lover, as I am, it is more than likely that you are familiar with watercress. Because watercress thrives in clear, slow moving water, many gardeners refrain from planting it. The fact is that the plant is very adaptable and watercress cultivation can be attained in a number of different ways at home. So, how to grow watercress in the home garden? Read on to learn more.
Watercress Cultivation
Watercress is a perennial cultivated for its clean, slightly peppery tasting leaves and stems. Seen wild, it grows partially submerged in running water and flooded areas in moderately cool climates. If you have awater feature in your landscape, this is a great place to cultivate watercress, but don’t despair if not.
Watercress can also be grown in consistently wet soil with a pH of 6.5-7.5 in full sun, or you can mimic natural conditions by growing watercress plants in a bucket or other container. In the garden proper, you can dig out a 6-inch furrow, line it with 4-6 mil polyethylene and then fill with 2 inches of composted soil or peat moss. Of course, if you have a running stream on your property, watercress cultivation is about as simple as it gets.
Growing Watercress Plants
Watercress can be grown from seed, transplants or cuttings. Watercress varieties abound, but the most common home grown variety is Nasturtium officinale. Prior to planting, choose a sunny location and amend the garden soil with 4-6 inches of composted organic matter down to a depth of 6-8 inches.
Seeds are tiny, so they need to be lightly broadcast over the prepared sight. Sow three weeks before the frost free date for your area. This plant germinates best in cool conditions (50-60 degrees F. or 10-15 C.) but not frigid. Keep the planting area moist but not covered with water. Container grown plants can be placed in a saucer filled with water to retain moisture.
Seedlings will appear in about five days. If you are transplanting, space the plants 8 inches apart once all chance of frost has passed.
Care of Watercress
Consistent moisture is the number one concern in the care of watercress; after all, water is its milieu. Container grown plants can be placed in a bucket filled with 2-3 inches of water so the roots stay submerged.
Although the plant does not have high nutrient requirements, cultivated cress may show signs ofpotassium, iron or phosphorus deficiencies. A complete soluble fertilizer applied at the recommended rate should mitigate any of these issues.
In the garden, keep the area around the plants free from weeds and mulch to aid in water retention. Snailslove watercress and should be removed by hand or trapped. Whiteflies also like the plant and can be controlled with soapy water or insecticidal soap. Spider mites cause leaf discoloration and general deterioration of the plant. Natural predators such as lady beetles, predatory mites or thrips can eradicate these pests.
Watercress Harvestin
The flavor of watercress is best during the cool months of the year. Once the plant blossoms, the flavor is compromised. Watercress harvesting can commence about 3 weeks after emergence. Cutting or pruning the plants will encourage them to be thicker and lush. Cut the plants to a height of about 4 inches. Wash the cuttings thoroughly and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for as long as week.
Harvesting can continue year round, adding a boost of vitamins A and C, along with niacin, ascorbic acid, thiamine, riboflavin and iron to your ho-hum salad or an added zing to compound butters or sauces.

Onion Bulb Formation: Why Onions Do Not Form Bulbs

Many onion varieties are available to the home gardener and most are relatively easy to grow. That said, onions do have their fare share of issues with onion bulb formation; either the onions do not form bulbs, or they may be small and/or misshapen.
Reasons for No Onion Bulbs
One possible reason for a lack of onion bulb formation is the selection of the wrong type of onion for your area. In their natural environment, onions are biennials that have a two year life cycle. The first year, the plant bulbs and the second year it flowers. Cultivators of onions grow them as an annual and harvest at the end of the first growing season.
Onions are categorized as “long day” or “short day” varieties, with some intermediate varieties available as well. The terms are in reference to the length of daylight during the growing season in a particular area.
  • A “long day” onion variety quits forming leaves and begins to bulb when the length of daylight is 14-16 hours.
  • “Short day” cultivars make bulbs much earlier in the season when daylight is only 10-12 hours long.
“Long day” onions should be planted north of the 40th parallel (San Francisco on the west coast and Washington D.C. on the east) while “short day” onions do best south of the 28th parallel (New Orleans, Miami).
The newest kids on the block are the day neutral varieties of onion which can be planted without regard to latitude. A big boon to gardeners between the 28th and 40th parallel.
Bulb size is in direct correlation to the number and size of leaves (tops) of the onion at the time of bulb maturity. Each leaf corresponds to a ring of the onion and the larger the leaf, the larger the ring.
How to Get Onions to Form a Bulb
Choosing an appropriate onion variety for your region and following the correct planting time is an important factor in getting healthy onion bulbs to form. “Long day” varieties are planted in the early spring. Either start seeds indoors and transplant or plant onion sets directly outdoors. “Short day” cultivars should be planted mid fall either directly sown or with onion sets.
Grow onions in raised beds about 4 inches high and 20 inches across. Dig a four inch trench in the bed and distribute a phosphorus rich fertilizer (10-20-10) 2 or 3 inches below the transplants, cover with a couple of inches of soil and plant the onion sets.
Maintain some space between the plants, one inch deep and four inches apart. For direct sown onion, thinning is the key to bulb size. Obviously, if there is not room for it to grow, you will get onions that do not form adequate bulbs.
Lastly, while this may not be directly related to a lack of bulbing, temperature will most certainly affect the size and quality of the onion. Cooler temps below 70 degrees F. (21 C.) may retard bulbing in some varieties. In late spring, fluctuation between warm days alternating with cool days may cause the plant to bolt, or flower.Flowering in onions results in a lighter weight bulb with an increased risk of decay and a lower storage life.


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