Tuesday, November 2, 2010

They Might Be Giants


As I'm nearing the end of the book I'm reading right now - Backyard Giants by Susan Warren (review forthcoming on Gardening By the Book) - I'm already thinking ahead to next year's growing season.  Even though I grow mostly perennials and ornamentals, we do put out a vegetable garden, too. In fact, we've always put out a vegetable garden, even when I wasn't a serious gardener.

Backyard Giants is the story of the business of growing giant pumpkins. Over 1500-lb. pumpkins.  It's a hugely competitive activity and a lot of expense and effort goes into trying to grow the world's largest pumpkin. It got me thinking.  What if I paid even half as much attention to growing something in my garden as these pumpkin growers do?

I'm not talking about spending lots of money, nor am I talking about growing exclusively one thing in any kind of quest to grow the largest, the heaviest, the prettiest, etc.  But if I paid more attention to the needs of say, my onions, perhaps I'd get nicer onions. Yeah, my onions...



I grew red ones this year. Don't ask me the variety, because right now I couldn't tell you. But they're good and sweet and I just chopped up a few to put in my chili, and next year, I want to grow more of them and find some way to grow them larger. I've never been able to grow onions like most people. But I know part of the reason is my own fault. I simply put the onion starts in the ground and let nature do its thing. No fertilizer, besides compost, and sometimes not even that. I just don't do anything to help them out.

I get decent onions, most of them about the right size for using in recipes, if I use two of them. But I'd still like to grow onions like you can buy in the store. Not the softball-sized ones, but baseball-sized would be nice. So I think that will be one of my goals for next year - to figure out how to grow bigger onions. Maybe just fertilizing will do the trick. Or maybe there's something else...

In the style of the giant pumpkin growers - any and all advice is welcomed!



7 comments:

James A-S said...

Sadly I cannot help with onions but if I might be a little indignant about pumpkins?
Thank you...
I don't know if it is the same over there but in the UK the place is awash with Halloween pumpkins that nobody ever eats. All they do is make them into faces and then chuck them in the bin.
Very annoying.

Kylee said...

James ~ Yes, making Jack-o-Lanterns is very common here, too, but I don't have a problem with it. It's not like we have a shortage of pumpkins. Plenty of them get eaten, too. And just look at it this way - those chucked pumpkins can be composted!

Darla said...

My onions never get bigger than the starts I put in the ground...sigh...do you pull the soil away from the bulb once it starts growing? I think my husband over waters them too...how do I break that news to him, lol. In a couple of weeks I will be posting a list of the seeds I have for trade. This will be my third year trading seeds with bloggers and it's so much fun! I have received and even shipped small plants and cuttings. The loofah need a long growing season so you could start them indoors...more on this later.

Kylee said...

Darla ~ No, I don't pull the soil away from it. I did learn the hard way several years ago to not overwater, especially with our clay soil. In the last couple of years, I've grown them in a raised bed that has high sand content, so it drains better. That helped, but it likely has fewer nutrients.
I'll check your trade list when it's up!

Darla said...

The gardener's around here, and I mean 80 year old gardener's, swear that you have to pull the soil back to grow really big onions....beats me.

Greensparrow said...

Thanks to the title of your post, I've now got "build a little bird house in your soul..." running through my head.
Onions are day-length sensitive. Here in the north, we grow long day varieties -- they stop growing and start making a bulb when the days are long (mid summer). In more mild climates, where a lot of your big grocery store onions are grown, they can grow short day onions -- these ones wait until fall to start making a bulb, which gives them a whole summer of growing, making for a bigger bulb. We can't grow those varieties, because they don't have time to finish developing before winter comes along.
There are also day-neutral onions. I don't know much about those, but you can grow them anywhere, and some of them are pretty big. But, again, I think maximal size is going to be limited by the length of your growing season.

Kylee said...

Joseph ~ Sorry for the ear worm! LOL!
THANK YOU! We need to talk! I bought my starts from a reputable local nursery, which only carries a few varieties. Wish I could remember which ones they were! Clearly I need to research this a bit more. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge!

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