Saturday, December 1, 2012

Recipe for Failure: Long-day Onions in Florida.

I love winter gardening in north Florida. We can grow cool-weather vegetables including, lettuce, onions, garlic, cabbage and the other cole crops right through the winter despite the fact that we get 10 or more killing frosts. The soil never gets particularly cold, though because between those frosts we are likely to get some warm days--even up to the high 70s. I've started many of my cool-weather crops this year, but I hadn't started any onions yet. So it was time to start some.

On December 1, most of the onions for sale in a Home Depot here in North Florida were long-day onions! Any grade-school kid can tell you that the days are getting shorter until Winter Solstice, when they will slowly get longer. So if you plant onions now, you will not have long days any time soon and while those onions may grow, they will not form bulbs before our weather gets too hot for them. Long-day onions are for northern gardeners in places like Maine, who plant onions in the spring and leave them in the ground until the days grow long. So what is Bonnie Plants thinking?

I ranted about Bonnie Plants and their blatant disregard for providing the appropriate plants for their customers over on Garden Rant in March 2011: Unseasonable Offerings from Bonnie Plants

Here are more details on onions in my article: The Skinny on Onions

I harvested my sweet onion crop in May last year when the soil was bone dry.

I tied their leaves together with soft cloth strips and hung them to dry for three weeks in the garage. Then I stored them in a paper bag in a dark cool closet. We ate a lot of onions for more than three months.
So heed my warning: Bonnie Plants has a flawed distribution system. As a sustainable gardener, you need to know what to look for BEFORE you purchase plants. I was able to find some short day onion sets inside near the seed racks, so I will be planting a bunch of onions this week. Yay!

Green Gardening Matters,
Ginny Stibolt


  1. Thanks for the info I never knew.

  2. Darn, I've had Bonnie onions in the garden since October just getting fatter and fatter (the stalk, that is) thinking they will become large bulbs. I'm in Central Florida so I hope they weren't the long day variety. I don't remember. Thanks for the heads up on the difference between the two!

    1. My short day onions are beginning to form bulbs here in Clay County in north Florida. Hopefully, yours will develop bulbs, but if it gets too hot before they bulb out, you can still eat those stalks and use them anywhere you'd use regular onions. If they begin to flower use them right away.