Starting with onions

[slickr-flickr tag=”onionflat01″]

The vegetable gardening season has begun! Onions require a long growing season to mature. If we’re growing them from seed in a northern climate it means we have to start them in February. This is not necessary for green or bunching onions, which can be sown later outdoors, but I would like to have some bulb onions by the fall.

We purchased a bunch of organic and heritage vegetable seeds from Urban Harvest. I have two onion varieties: Cipolinni yellow, which is sweet and good for storage, and red baron. Today I planted the seeds in these Jiffy seed starters (click on photo above). I would have preferred to start them in open flats, but this was all I could find at Canadian Tire. A few seedlings can start in each cell, to be separated when I transplant them to the garden. That should happen as soon as I can work the soil in April or May.

I’ve set the tray on boards to raise it above the floor over a furnace vent to provide some bottom heat. I don’t know whether onions need this, but it stimulates germination of warm-weather crops like tomatoes. Now is too early to start most of the other seeds, but probably not perennial herbs like thyme, sage and lavender. Tender vegetables like tomatoes, peppers and squash should be started four to six weeks before the average last frost date. That is May 11, according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

I intend to use permaculture principles in establishing the garden; more on this later. To bad we don’t have chickens (Guelph is one of the few cities in Canada where it is legal to keep backyard chickens, but I don’t think we’ll try that since we’re only tenants).

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