Saturday, February 6, 2010

First Seeds Planted – Onions

It is actually earlier than my seed schedule, but I really wanted to plant something. I hope I have better self control in the weeks ahead. My seedling heating mat is on order and should arrive by the end of the week. Looks like I am going to need it for germinating. The temperature in the basement is around 50˚F/10C.

For those of you who plant according to the Farmer's Almanac Moon Calendar, February 6-7 is a good time to start onion seeds. I don’t follow the Moon Calendar, but came across this information and thought it was an interesting coincidence that I planted my onions on these dates.

I am planning on at least 130 onion plants in the SFG, plus 64 bunching onions to be seeded at a later date. It seems like a lot, but a MOFGA article titled, “Start Onions From Seed Now (February/March)” by Jean English, suggests that if you eat one onion per day, plant 400 seedlings, of you eat two onions per week, plan on growing a little over 100 onion plants.

There are many options to consider when planting onion seeds. Some plant mass seeds in an undivided flat and separate the seedlings at transplant time. Some plant one or two per cell in flats. At first, I wanted to plant one per 2-inch soil block, because I thought it would be easy to transplant into the Square Foot Gardens (SFGs). Then I realized how much space 130 onion seedlings would require and most of my seed shelves would then be occupied by just onions. I have a lot more seeds to plant so needed to conserve space.

In the book, Four Season Harvest, Elliot Colman describes a Dutch multiplant idea and used onions as an example. He suggests planting four onion seeds in a group then transplant to the garden as a unit, “The onions growing together push each other aside gently and at harvest time are lying in a series of small circles rather than single rows.” (p 100).

This multiplant idea is also echoed in MOFGA’s article, “Start Onions From Seed Now (February/March)” by Jean English, which also suggests grouping onion transplant seedlings and onion sets in four and plant 6-inches apart.

To conserve some space under the growing lights, I decided to plant four seeds per soil block requiring only 32 soil blocks. So in the SFG, instead of the recommended 16/sq ft spacing, I will plant four soil blocks/sq ft.

We will see how it goes. I can always thin if I find that the onions are looking a bit crowded.


  1. MAN, soil blocks are the way to go, aren't they? Good luck with those onions.

  2. Now I have to go redo my moon planting notes according to the FA information :-) I KNEW I should have written them in pencil.

  3. Seem like a great idea, GM !
    And thx for bringing the moon Calendar to my attention (I was going to start my onions tomorrow anyway, so perfect timing). Great !

  4. Ribbit: I'll reserve my judgement until I see how they grow, but they seem promising.

    AG: Whoops! So sorry, Granny :)

    Miss M: Thanks for the encouragement. I hope it is a good idea. At least it is fixable by thinning if the onions get too crowded.

  5. One can never have too many onions, carrots, or tomatoes. That is my philosophy anyhow! Doesn't it feel good to be able to plant things even though it is still too wintery outside to do any much in the garden proper?

  6. I was thinking the same way as you did - should I have 2 or 3 onion seeds per pot or should I plant 50 seeds in larger pot.
    At the end I did both. 50 small pots with 3 seeds per pot + 100 seeds in 2 pots.
    Your idea of 4 seeds is excellent, I hope it works.

  7. I think I'm going to up the amount of onions I'm growing this year. I'd like to harvest mine at varying stages of growth all throughout the summer. Since onion seeds only last for about a year, why let the seeds go to waste. Right???

    Do you know of any good links to any moon planting calenders?

  8. I multiplanted some of my onions last year. The ones that were in blocks of two did great. They grew as well as the individually planted ones. But the ones with three or more didn't fare as well. I'm thinking of starting a lot of onions this year too and I'm wondering where to put them all.

  9. kitsapFG: I agree that we can’t have too many onions, carrots, or tomatoes. I was so looking forward to planting my first seeds. Now I have to wait a while before planting any more.

    Vrtlarica: I may also plant 50 seeds in a larger pot too. I have some space in a flower garden that I can use for onions. I would like to compare how each way grows.

    Thomas: I use so many onions when I cook. I am also growing bunching onions that I can harvest sooner while the other onions mature for storage.

    I only have the Farmer’s Almanac link for Moon Planting that I posted, I know Dan and Granny are also interested in planting by the moon phases, so maybe they have some links?

    Daphne: Thanks so much for letting me know your experiences in multiplanting onions. I may have to rethink my plan.