Planting Onions

Students measure out and plant onion starts

With frost on the ground, Eric and the students busily transplanted over 300 onions starts—almost twice as many as last year. Onions can be started from seed too, but it saves a lot of time and energy to mail-order some high-quality starts.

Students mulch around newly transplanted onions with hay
Students mulch around newly transplanted onions with hay

Once the onions are planted, the students then mulched around them with hay to suppress weeds, preserve water, and protect soil. Not only do onions need consistent moisture to grow well, but they are very susceptible to weed pressure, with one study finding that weeds slow onions growth by about 4% per day (50% in just two weeks).

After only one month (March 26, when this post was made), the onions have already grown tremendously. As they continue to grow, the onions can be harvested at various stages of maturity, from green onions to pearl onions and finally the mature globes in June. Quality onions, when cured properly, can be stored for six months or longer in the right conditions, so these will find their way into many future meals.

In addition to onion planting, students also continued to prepare beds for future transplanting. Eric also tested and compared the merits of the power harrow tractor attachment to the much lighter, cordless drill-powered tilther. The power harrow proved to be too heavy and cumbersome in such tightly packed and water-logged beds.