Planting Onions in East Texas
February is a month in which many people begin planting onions, potatoes, and greens in their garden. Soil preparation is important and it is recommended to turn the soil to a depth of 8-12 inches. We like to add compost and manure as we till.
Onions are a cool-season crop and can withstand temperatures well below freezing. The yellow, white, red, and purple onion varieties grow well in Texas home gardens. Onions are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and are most commonly used to flavor food dishes. Onions are planted from seeds, small bulb sets or transplants. Transplants are the most common. With transplants, it is recommended to plant at a depth of ¾ of an inch deep and 3 inches apart. Do not plant onions more than 1 inch deep. Onions grow best in full sun and in well-drained soils.
It is recommended to spread a layer of fertilizer high in phosphorus under the onions, and then to fertilize with high nitrogen. Our personal preference is to use rabbit manure and soft rock phosphate(0-3-0) or bone meal (0-10-0) for the phosphorus layer, and we like to use corn gluten meal (9-0-0)as our high nitrogen source once per month to fertilize as well as to keep weeds from growing between the rows.
Your onions will be ready to harvest when the top of the onions fall over. Pull them out of the ground, then allow them to dry 2-3 days in the sun. However, if the sun is particularly hot that day, one day may be sufficient enough. Last, store your onions in a cool place until you are ready to use them.
Red Potatoes grow especially well in the warm climate of Texas. As the potato is a sun-loving plant, the mix of our sun and cooler evening temperatures make for a healthy crop.
It’s best to plant the potatoes in mid– to late-February, 3 to 4 weeks before the last frost. To start, prepare the soil with a tiller to break up, loosen, and aerate the soil. We like to add compost and rabbit manure to the soil. After tilling, place a potato eye on the dirt, spacing each eye about 1 foot apart from another. You can find potato eyes either at garden centers, online seed stores, or even from potatoes in your own kitchen. Build mounds about 6 inches high over the eyes with a mixture of dirt, compost, and straw. This keeps the roots cool during the sweltering summers around here.
Be sure to water thoroughly. It’s best to water the potatoes each morning to give the leaves a chance to dry before nightfall. Be sure to make sure the soil drains properly. Also, your mounds may start to diminish in size over time. Therefore it is best to rebuild them each week. This is crucial! When the potatoes are exposed to the sunlight, they produce a toxin that is poisonous to eat. Discard any green potatoes,