Mary's Veggie Garden

March 12, 2012

3/12/12: Starting Onions & Sweet Potatoes & a harvest

Filed under: Gardening,Greens,Onions,Sweet Potatoes,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 9:54 am

Last week I officially started the planting phase of my 2012 garden. I started onion and celeriac seed Wednesday 3/7. Thursday I put the sweet potatoes in water to root.

My potting bench: the top of the washer, protected by a drop cloth. At least water is close at hand.

Pots for starting onions.

The large open pots are called market packs. These have excessive drainage holes; I line them with paper to keep the potting mix inside.  In the 6″x5″ size I sow 45 onion seeds in three rows of 15.  There are also slightly smaller market packs (5.5″x5″) which I sow with 3 rows of 12 seeds. I don’t thin the plants, but during transplanting I will discard the smallest plants, usually 4-6 discards.

In the 3-cell pots I sow 2 rows of 5 seeds in each of the cells and I expect to transplant 25-28 plants.

The pots go into a covered plastic storage bin stored on top of the refrigerator. The seeds stay moist and warm to speed sprouting.

Pots with seeds are carefully placed in a plastic storage bin, the lid is put in place, and the bin is kept on top of the refrigerator until sprouts appear.

I check daily for sprouts. The first onion sprouts appeared this morning, 5 days after sowing. If you enlarge the picture you’ll find 2 or 3 sprouts in each row.

The first onion sprouts appear 5 days after sowing.

Today I’ll move the pots with sprouts under a fluorescent light in the (unheated) basement to grow. Only half have sprouts, but I expect the rest tomorrow.

My goal is to transplant around 270 onions in mid-April.

Thursday 3/8 I started rooting the sweet potatoes. The four varieties  (clockwise from the biggest) are Georgia Jets, Purple, Laceleaf, and Frazier White. All had developed tiny slips when I cured them last fall, and as soon as they got water the slips started growing. This morning I found tiny roots, 1/8″  – 1/4″ long. In a few days, I will be potting up these sweet potato mothers. (Note: I don’t use toothpicks to hang the SPs. The narrow containers hold them upright, and it’s OK if they rest on their ends.)

3/12 Rooting sweet potatoes for slip production.

Spring Salad

The ingredients are mache, which sprouted last fall and overwintered; parsley, sprouting from last years plants; sorrel leaves;  and 2″ spears of new chives.  The mache was unexpectedly sweet, its flavor must be better in cold weather.

March 11 harvest: mache, chives, sorrel, and parsley.



  1. We will start harvesting our mache this week too!! Your salads look great! 240 onions! I have yet to get adventurous enough to start my own onions. I usually plant around 100 from starts that I buy around April 1st.

    Comment by Rick — March 12, 2012 @ 11:18 am | Reply

    • My onion timing is based on when my community garden plot will be available, usually early April. With that many onions I don’t want them too big at transplanting time.

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — March 12, 2012 @ 7:19 pm | Reply

  2. I should start my celeriac. 270 onions, that’s a looooot of onion to transplant. Only one of the 2 frazier whites I got from you rooted. The other is doing nothing, hope it start moving soon.

    Comment by Norma Chang — March 12, 2012 @ 3:08 pm | Reply

    • The Purple SPs are rooting fastest – they have 1/2″ roots already. The Frazier White SPs are slowest, they have no roots showing yet – but even so, your second one should be rooted by now. One of my 3 has at least 10 slips starting so there will be enough to go around.

      The onions are a years supply. They are almost half Copra, which stores very well.

      Comment by marysveggiegarden — March 12, 2012 @ 7:17 pm | Reply

  3. I’m in full swing of seed starting myself. Have also been harvesting some mache; not very big, but it didn’t sprout until after Christmas. But I always know when I get a mouthful in the salad, it’s got such a different sweeter flavor than lettuce!

    Comment by maryhysong — March 12, 2012 @ 3:18 pm | Reply

  4. It looks like you have been really busy this week!


    Comment by SubUrban Garden Diary — March 15, 2012 @ 11:03 pm | Reply

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