Sunday, February 8, 2009

Rossa Di Milano Onion

Rossa Di Milano Onion
Allium cepa
Rare - Organic
3-4 in. Hardy Biennial
A mild, mid-sized, Italian red onion that is flat on top, tapering to a barrel-shaped bottom. Stores well. A long-day type that does reasonably well in short-season areas. Sow 2 seeds per inch as soon as the soil can be worked in the spring. In short-season areas, best started indoors in January or February and transplanted into rows 10 inch apart in April. Harvesting tips. Harvest when green tops begin to fall over, before the first frost. Cure in a warm, dry, well-ventilated area until tops are completely dry. Remove tops and store in cool area.

Planting Depth: 1/4"
Soil Temp. for Germ.: 50-90°F
Days to Germ.: 4-13
Plant Spacing: 4"
Days to Maturity: 110
Full Sun
Water Often
Pack weight .400gms ~ 100 seeds

Easily grown from seed if you get an early start and control the weeds while plants are spindly and defenseless. If possible, plant onions to follow either a vegetable that requires clean cultivation or a weed smothering crop.
WHEN TO PLANT: Sow onion seeds indoors in January or February; outdoors in April or May.
Why is it necessary to get such and early start with onions from seed? Because the onion's ability to form a bulb is influenced by the length of the day. It's the short dark period that makes onions shape up. Onions suitable for the northern states are called long day onions. They start to form bulbs when days grown long and night grow short. If you've gotten a head start with your seedlings, your onion plants will be well developed at bulbing time and therefore vigorous enough to produce a good sized bulb. When the day length becomes right, a spindly young onion plant will bulb up on que just like an older one, but the bulb will be puny. Our southern states, being closer to the equator, have somewhat longer summer nights, so growers there choose short-day varieties, which don't require such a short period to trigger bulbing.
HOW TO PLANT: Plant onion seeds in flats indoors. use fresh seeds; onion seeds lose much of their viability if not kept cool and dry. For good strong plants, transplant the onion seedlings, leaving 1" between plants. If you're short of space, or if you grow so many onions that you end up tripping over flats of onion seedlings scattered everywhere, you can carefully space the seeds 1/4" apart when planting them, and then leave them in the same flat until time to plant them in the row.
You can also plant onion seeds directly in the ground for summer-bunching or fall-storage onions. Sow the seeds in April or May, no more than 1/2" deep (1/4" deep in heavy soils) and thin to 4" apart when the top spears have become as thick as spears of chives.
Onion seeds germinate best at 65°F to 80°F, but young plants should be grown in cooler temperatures, near 60°F and no higher then 70°F by day and 50°F at night. Set them out after proper hardening off a good month or six weeks before your frost free date. Wide bands of onion plants spaced 4" apart make the best use of space.
GROWING CONDITIONS: Onions prefer soil that is not strongly acid. When grown in potassium-deficient soil, they will keep poorly, and phosphorus-deficient soil causes thick necks and delayed maturity. For sweeter onions, avoid fertilizing with gypsum, which contains sulfer. Weeds are your worst enemy when plants are young. They sometimes shoulder ahead of seeds planted in mid-spring before the grasslike seedlings can get off the ground.
BULBING: As summer progresses, days become longer and warmer. Both of these conditions encourage bulbing, which is really the formation of additional storage tissue. If the weather is too cold, onions won't bulb up no matter how long the days are. The size of the onion is also important. As it grows bigger, it becomes increasingly sensitive to the bulb-inducing influences of longer day length and warmer temperature. The day length necessary to initiate bulbing varies according to the variety but is genearlly 12 to 16 hours. A day length considerably longer than the minimum necessary to start bulb formation will exert a very strong impetus toward bulbing.
Within the plants normal critical day-length range, though, bulbing is more susceptible to the influence of other environmental factors. For example, high soil nitrogen tends to delay bulbing within the critical photoperiod but no in an extra-long day. Warmth alone won't trigger bulbing, but it is necessary for the development of a good sized bulb. Day length remains consist from year to year but soil and air temperatures change considerably, so even if you duplicate varieties planted and the treatment given your onion plants, crop quality may vary from year to year because of the weather.
ONION SETS: Perhaps you'd like to try growing your own onion sets, those miniature dry bulbs that grown into eating sized onions when planted in their second spring. Just set aside a few feet square, or a wide row and in eaerly spring, scatter about an ounce of seeds in a row 2" wide and 25' long. Don't thin the onions. Crowding keeps them small. Pull the plants late in July before they reach a diameter of 3/4". The smaller sets will give you larger bulbs and are less likely to bolt to seed next year. Any sets larger than 1" in diameter should be tossed into the pickle crock. Cure the sets in the sun until the tops are throughly dry - a week or ten days - and then remove the tops at the neck of the small bulb. Store inn a dry, airy, cool but not freezing place.
When planting sets in the spring, push them into the soft earth just far enough to hold them in place, if your soil is heavy. In sandy soil plant them a trifle deeper, but don't cover them. If you have a cat that likes to scratch in the garden as we do, you might have to do some resetting of bulbs for a week or two until the roots grow.

PURCHASED: 1/2g from Seeds of Change via Portland Nursery, Feb '09. $3.29
STARTED SEED: 2/8/09. First bit of green popped up late on 2/13. Five days to germinate. Happy BD to me!
HARDENED OFF: 3/15/09: One hour in the cold frame.




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