Do you plan to grow onions here in zone 6 New Jersey this season? Well, it really is too late for seeds unless you don’t care about the ultimate size of the onions you are growing, but there is still plenty of time to order onion plants. However, you should order soon if you would like the best results. Many seed suppliers and garden shops sell onion plants. Dixondale Farms, though, sells only onions, (and the occasional leek) and they have been doing so for exactly 100 years.
It is reasonable to suspect that they know their onions.
Now, decide what sort of onions you would like? Sweet, or do you prefer onions with a bite? Large or small, or does size matter to you? How about elapsed time from planting to cooking? Do you like red, yellow or white onions or do you plan to raise all three varieties? All of this boils down to personal preference and you can certainly make these choices very easily. But, and there is always a but…
You will find onions listed as either short or long day onions. What does this mean, and what variety is best for zone 6?
The short answer is long day onions and the why of it concerns the growth cycle of onions.
In the north there is a greater variation in the number of hours of daylight than there is closer to the equator. Onions continue to develop leaves, the number of which is directly related to onion size, up until the point is reached where the length of day or sunlight received triggers bulbing. Therefore, if big onions are the goal then the “bulbing” season trigger should be received as late as possible.
Short day onions trigger bulbing at 12 to 14 hours of daylight. In zone 6, (latitude 41 N approximately) that number is reached by April 1. This is far too early for the plant to develop many leaves; therefore the onions will be small.
The 14 hour mark is hit in zone 6 on around June 1, allowing for two additional months of leaf formation and therefore, larger onions.
That was easy! Now leap to your computer and order those long day onion plants, and you too can enjoy a large onion yield from your own garden in 2013!
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