Garden Daybook 6/20/12

Shortening days mean that onion plants begin to slow leaf growth and give their energy to bulb making. Today’s summer solstice is the longest day of the year, today will be 15 hours, 11 minutes and 4 seconds long!, and it is the signal for onions to begin to grow bulbs. Until now, the plants have been giving all of their energy to developing leaves. They will spend the next month developing big bulbs supported by those leaves.

I baby my onions all through the spring to encourage leaf growth. I keep the bed carefully weeded so the roots will not have to compete for nutrients, water, or space. I water often so they are never stressed. I mulch the rows with grass clippings for a nutrient boost, to control weeds, and keep moisture even. I sweet talk them every evening so they know they are beautiful.

Here are my onions as of today. I pulled back the mulch so you can see that the sets of leaves are good sized and that the stems are solid and have a good sized girth. I have high hopes for good sized bulbs. Click on the picture for a close up of the stem girth and to see the mere beginnings of a bulb.

To give the onions a nutrition boost for growing bulbs I spent this morning carefully mulching the entire onion bed with bag after bag of two year old rotted leaves. Oh man! What beautiful, beautiful black gold chopped leaves become when you bag them and allow them to sit a few years. I call leaf mold the champagne of mulches. I spread the leaf mold, handful by mucky handful, between the plants until the entire bed was carpeted with black, rotted leaves. The first picture was made just before I added the black leaf mold so the mulch you see is decomposing grass clippings mixed with chopped leaves bagged last fall. The bottom picture shows the leaf mold on top of the the decomposing grass and chopped leaves. I managed to snuggle the entire onion bed in leaf mold and I do believe I heard the onions throwing me kisses when I closed the garden gate this evening.

Hey from the farm,

Fran, The Country Cousin

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