Weekend Gardener

Blog based on my best-selling ebook "The Weekend Gardener"- The Busy Persons' Guide To A Beautiful Backyard Garden by Victor K. Pryles

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Shedding Some Light On Onions

Onion plants switch from making green tops to making fat bulbs in response to the length of daylight, so for best success it is important to choose varieties appropriate to your location: lond-day types for Northern gardens, short-day onions for Southern gardens.

* Short Day Onions- Most of the sweet onions like Vidalia, Texas Sweet, and Maui fall into this class. They not only form bulbs in the shorter days of the South, they also prefer the low-sulfer soils more typical there than elsewhere. Short-day onions do not keep as well as long-day types; and although they seem sweeter, they aren't. What they are is mild. Long-day onions have more sugar, but it is masked by thier greater pungency.

* Long-Day Onions- Most storage onions like Yellow Spanish and Stuttgarter belong here. They have denser flesh and a higher sulfer content than short-day onions, both qaulities that help them keep longer. Walla Walla, the sweet onion from Washington State, is an exception that proves the rule. It is a long-day onion that grows large and remains mild, but it does not keep any better than Southern onions do. Long-day onions mellow over time, so they are usually sweetest right before they come to the end of thier storage life.

* Don't Care Onions- There is only one so far, a hybrid called 'Super Star'. It is day nuetral (not sensitive to day length) and can be grown wherever it can be planted in spring, which is to say anywhere except the Deep South. 'Super Star' is a mild white onion, similar to the old standby 'White Sweet Spanish' but larger, milder, and earlier to mature.