Sets

June 12, 2021

I got the first of my onion sets in the ground this last week.  While I still have about half of the bag to plant, at least I have not wasted them all (yet).  I have mentioned how I have tried to grow onions on three previous occasions with no luck.  My mom tells me it is Karma.  When I was four years old I “harvested” the onion sets a neighbor had planted earlier that morning.  He never was able to get his onions to grow.  Now I am being punished for my past deeds and my onions refuse to grow.   

When I looked online, I found that onion seeds take two years to grow into onion bulbs.  In the first season, onions (Allium cepa L.) will grow from a seed to a plant and then a dormant bulb.  After a period of cold temperatures, onion bulbs will grow and flower in the second season.  When you use onion sets, you are planting the dormant bulb of the previous season.   The small bulbs are harvested prematurely from the first year of an onion’s life cycle and stored through winter.  Sets are easy to find and plant, but typically yield smaller onions than when grown from seed.  Onions are cool season crops that prefer full sun yet cooler temperatures.  Onions are often planted in early spring and harvested in late fall.  I was close, getting mine in the ground in June.

My first attempt at onion sets was planting in containers in the public garden I was growing at work.  I dutifully watered them for two months and when I checked, none of them had grown.  I do not think there was enough soil or nutrients in the shallow containers I had used.  Part of the experiment was to show you could plant in anything.  It did not work.  I shifted to planting in the ground the next year to ensure they had enough soil to grow.  I am not sure why, but they did not work that year either.  Last year I again planted in the ground in a bed that constantly flooded.  Many of the sets washed out and those that did not failed to grow.  I am hoping this year will be different.

Thoughts:  When I bought the onion sets earlier this year Melissa reminded me that I had vowed to never try and grow onions again.  I am still determined to grow and make my own salsa, and onions are an integral ingredient.  I was able to make Pico last year, but the onions were store bought.  I have already lost my cilantro plant, but maybe my onions, tomatoes, and jalapenos will produce this year.  I find a lot of correlation with life in my garden.  Even when I work hard and put in the effort, it does not guarantee success.  Other times I become lackadaisical and do not put in the work and have no success.  Then there are those with green thumbs that find success regardless of what they do (probably because they know how to do it right).  Success in life is never guaranteed but I have found it happens more frequently when you take proven steps.  Do the work.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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