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Overwintering Onions in the Garden Bed: Zone 3!  RSS feed

 
Roberto pokachinni
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Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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So last week the snow finally cleared and today I was exploring the garden and doing some pre-weeding when I came across some onions that I missed when I did my harvest at the end of summer.  I thought for sure that they would be rotten.  We had some serious hard deep freezes before we had significant insulating snow cover.  Winter was slow in coming with snow, with warmish but still winter-ish weather progressing right into early December (which is rare up where I am). 

At any rate, nearly a year after they were planted, and after several months of snow cover, there they were, as sound as could be.  Well, not exactly.  Some of them were sprouting and a couple were soft, and one had vole damage, and that's about it, the majority were fine. 

So... for all the hassle of harvesting onions and processing them to cure and dry them in the fall, I think I'm going to experiment further with leaving a bunch of them in the ground for spring harvest.  Anybody else do this?   Maybe it's not so rare, and I'm jumping up and down for nothing...

FYI :  I'm pretty high up in elevation and latitude and around Zone 3.  My beds are raised, and that bed had a thin skim of scattered hay mulch;  if that makes a difference, I don't know.    
 
Ellie Strand
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Location: Eau Claire, WI
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Interesting. What type of onion--standard ones grown from sets?

I'm in 4a with similar growing conditions.  I'll be trialing bunching onions this year in a bed raised by lowering the paths and putting removed top soil on top of planned bed. I think I'll get a bag of sets just to try leaving them to overwinter.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Posts: 1213
Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
77
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Hi Ellie

Yeah, these were just grown from sets.

We have some seeded onion starts this year that we'll be trying this out with as well.

I made my raised beds the same way as you describe.  Mine are dug out on the contour using an A-frame level.  I did get the ground roto-vated multiple passes before I got busy with the level, so it was pretty loose and worked up and not super perfect for contours, but it is pretty close to contours.  I did not till my beds again, and the beds have been growing stuff for 3 years, so there is plenty of microbial life and earthworms.  I have a unpaid legion of voles that do an excellent job of providing me with excessive drainage as well.    
 
Ellie Strand
Posts: 24
Location: Eau Claire, WI
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I'm afraid my raised beds won't be as "permie" as yours. I garden my backyard, and some of the front. As this is suburbia-type living in a relatively small city I have flat yards.

 
Simone Gar
Posts: 134
Location: Alberta, zone 3
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Yeah, we just purchased a property and they had onions in the gardens. I have them pop up everywhere. I was thinking the same thing, I will experiment more with that. We had a fairly harsh winter too with long stretches of cold. They must be hardy buggers. I am not sure what these are but I found some wrappers from the typical MacKenzie onion sets. I marked some spots where I found them and will see how they do till early summer. Garlic overwinters fine here so I would thing onion might too. No raised beds here btw. Just an old fashioned garden. zone 3, rural Alberta, north of Calgary, Chinook country.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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Hi Simone,

see how they do till early summer. 


I'm thinking that the onions, if left past the early spring, will start to develop a more woody core, and send out a harder tubular stem to put out a seed head.  If your looking for seed, then go for it, but if not, I'd harvest them soon while they are tender and sweet.
 
Simone Gar
Posts: 134
Location: Alberta, zone 3
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:Hi Simone,

see how they do till early summer. 


I'm thinking that the onions, if left past the early spring, will start to develop a more woody core, and send out a harder tubular stem to put out a seed head.  If your looking for seed, then go for it, but if not, I'd harvest them soon while they are tender and sweet.


Good to know. They are just too small to really harvest and get something out of it. Seeds sounds good too. I guess I'll try that
 
Roberto pokachinni
pollinator
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Location: Fraser Headwaters, B.C., Zone3, Latitude 53N, Altitude 2750', Boreal/Temperate Rainforest-transition
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what you might have is a wild onion, like nodding onion.  Possibly hooker's nodding onion.
 
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