09 October 2009

Onions, onions, onions, ducklings.

At this time of year, in Central Victoria we find ourselves with an interesting dilemma.

We have a hot house full of seedlings but the ground outside will not be ready for a month or so to be planted into.

The first issue is that the ground is too wet to get the tractor in to pull up the beds. Working wet ground ruins the soil structure.

The second issue is that it is still too cold here for the delicate little seedlings to survive and thrive.

And the third issue is that we have done trials and found that seedlings planted in the ground now do not reach maturity any sooner than those planted out in the middle of November.

The seedlings are getting too big for the seed trays we planted them in so it's time to prick them out and replant them into bigger pots.

We plant seeds into seed raising mix. Seed raising mix has virtually no nutrients as the seed contains everything it needs for germination.

For their next stage of growth the seedlings need a bit of help so I make a 50/50 mix of matured compost (above) and soil (below), potting mix.

I fill up the little pots with the potting mix.

I give the seed trays and the little pots a good soaking.

I like to use a chopstick to prick holes in the potting mix where the seedlings will go but anything roughly the size of a pencil will do.

Carefully loosen an onion seedling. Look how intricate that root system is already.

Put each seedling in a hole making sure that the whole root structure is covered with potting mix or else the plant will dry out and die. Press around each one to make sure there are no air pockets.

The onion seedlings will grow in these pots for the next month. We will water them often and fertilise them with fish and seaweed occasionally.

In mid November, we will tap them out of their pots and plant them as a bunch. As the onions mature and their bulbs swell they will push each other out of the way to make more room.

We grow many different varieties of onions that will reach maturity in the first few months of next year.

I thought I'd leave you with a photo I took of the ducklings waiting outside the door to the brooder when it was getting cold outside and time for them to go in to bed.

Bren will be at the Collingwood Childrens' Farm farmers' market tomorrow, why don't you go and say 'hi'.

Have a great weekend.


Mr. H. said...

Great post on onion seedlings, I may have to try and repot mine as you do. Usually I transfer them straight from the flat into the ground, but you are right about them not doing any better if planted too early. I'll keep this in mind for next season...we really are at opposite ends of the growing season.:)

Jacqueline said...

it's not as cold up here as where you are but we've held off planting for the same reasons - we're getting a lot of rain (good) and it's still too cold for them outside. I loved growing leeks and spring onions for the first time this year - so I'm looking forward to real onions.

I love the ducks huddling around the door - they are lovely and seeing the goats from Holy Goat just made my morning! I'd love to have goats - funny animals they are.

RoLuc said...

I separated all my onions last weekend. Mine are already in my raised beds, they seem to be thriving. I'm going to have so many onions come Feb! And Garlic too! But you can never have enough garlic. I might plant some more in Nov