A Gardener’s Diary columnist Jocelyne Sewell looks at planting the perfect row of onions. (Stock)

A Gardener’s Diary columnist Jocelyne Sewell looks at planting the perfect row of onions. (Stock)

A Gardener’s Diary: Thank God for gardening in COVID-19

Gardening columnist says nice days don’t mean the last of frost

Jocelyne Sewell

A Gardener’s Diary

Just because we had some nice warm days lately doesn’t mean that the frost is over. It doesn’t show any for Vernon on the weather website but higher on the hills, it is still early spring. Any tender plants out will have to be protected at night. My cold frames are covered at night. The peas and the lettuce are doing just fine even with a touch of frost.

Onions are relatively easy to grow provided the garden soil is rich, fertile and well-drained. The topsoil should be deep and should contain an ample supply of humus. Onions can be propagated by small bulbs known as sets, the easiest and fastest method for the home gardener, by seeds or by transplants. The best sets are not necessarily the largest. The preferred size is about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) in diameter, with smaller ones lacking in vigour and larger sets often going to seed. They should be planted four to six inches (10-16 cm) apart. Planted as early in the spring as possible, the sets will grow rapidly. They demand only shallow cultivation or weeding. By five weeks, the young plants should have made good growth.

Last fall I worked in some compost and covered the bed with shredded leaves. In March I scattered some bone meal and turned the soil. Last week I was ready to put the sets in. I wanted to do it sooner than that but there is always something else to do. I used the mixed packs with yellow, white and red onions. For my spacing, I used a large piece of stucco wire and put one little bulb every second hole. This gave me the right spacing of four inches (10cm) and nice straight rows.

The length of time needed to form edible bulbs is determined by the amount of daylight the plant receives and not by the maturity of the plant.

The average garden-grown onion is relatively free from plant disease and insect pests, although the onion root maggot can be troublesome in some localities. As a deterrent, some gardeners have found that radishes interplanted between rows of onions act as a very satisfactory trap crop. If they become infested, pull up the radishes and destroy them.

Onions and all members of the cabbage family get along well with each other. They also like beets, strawberries, tomatoes, lettuce, summer savoury but do not like peas and beans. Russian biologist T.A. Tovstole found a water solution of onion skin, used as a spray three times daily at five-day intervals, gave an almost 100 per cent kill of hemiptera (includes aphids) a parasite attacking more than 100 different species of plants.

On this Earth Day April 22, which is celebrated around the world, I found this beautiful prayer:

God, Creator of All, we offer our prayer in gratitude and humility that we might heed your call to care for one another through our care of the least, the lowest and the most vulnerable of all your blessed creation. Grant, we pray, the courage to speak on behalf of the soft soil under our feet, the running and still waters, the warmth of the sun on our face, and all the crawling, flying and swimming creatures you love. May our courage to speak translate into actions that protect our planet – so that our children and their children might enjoy the fruits of what we sow. In your name, we pray AMEN.

Due to COVID-19, I will not have a plant sale this year. I still have tomato plants available. Phone me or email me for varieties.

For more information: 250-558-4556 jocelynesewell@gmail.com

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