First January plantings

Today was the last day of our holidays and after being cooped up inside for a couple of days we really needed some fresh air as well as some positive memories to take us forward into what is decidedly a dismal January.

Sadly, we arrived too late at RHS Harlow Carr in Harrogate to have a wander round the gardens, although through the garden centre window they looked magnificent as dusk fell. And I came home with 50 sets of overwintering onions.

Last time I tried to grow onions over winter they were a dismal fail. Winter 2012-13 was a lot colder and the onions clearly weren’t having any overwintering nonsense. Considering what has already decided to bring spring forward (cf The primroses are out!), it seemed a good idea to try out onions at this time of year once again. 

first onion planting

By the time we got home, it was already dark but I couldn’t resist planting at least a few of the sets. On the other hand, I did manage a bit of daylight sowing yesterday before it started raining.

In view of the possibility that the spring blooms will either be damaged by later frosts or flower too early, thus leaving a gap where bees and other insects are left without food, I thought it was worth trying to get some phacelia to grow. I’ve got so much seed from last year, anyway, it would hardly be a terrible loss if they didn’t germinate.

phacelia flowers and garlic bulbils

That said, there is every chance they will, considering they had already started to do just that in the patch where I planned to plants some garlic seed – another success from last year.

The Internet has a dearth of information on sowing garlic bulbils and I wasn’t sure where else to find any. However, what I did come across suggested they should be planted in the spring. I couldn’t quite see why, unless the advice was for somewhere in North America perhaps.

In any case, as the temperatures are currently quite spring-like and we don’t generally have harsh winters even under normal circumstances, it seems that this time is as good as any to get them in the ground. As with the phacelia, I’ve still got some bulbils as back up, so I’ll see if the first lot sprout before finding a space for the rest.

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About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
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22 Responses to First January plantings

  1. Kalamain says:

    Ok… I have Garlic in the ground now so maybe you wouldn’t mind passing on some advice..
    Did you let all the garlic flower? or did you snip the flowers and only leave some to produce next years crop?
    I have read that you should NOT let garlic (And onions) flower as it takes energy from the bulb to produce the flowers. Is that right?

    Thanks!

    • Helen says:

      I think you could be right about flowers taking energy from the bulbs. However, one comment on my post about the garlic bolting was that after flowering the bulbs keep better.

      I haven’t found that – and certainly with onions, once they’ve flowered they need eating quickly. On the other hand, the increased dampness this winter could also be affecting their lasting ability.

      Not all the garlic flowered and this is the first time they’ve done it. With this rainy winter, perhaps they will again but then again it was dry last year.

      On balance, I’d snip the flowers, maybe just keeping one if you want to seed save. One will give you a fair amount of bulbils, although I don’t of course yet know how many of these will develop into cloves I can plant for true garlic this winter.

      • Kalamain says:

        OK. I’ll let a couple flower if they bolt but snip the rest. This is my first go at this so if they fail it’s not the end of the world.
        Living and learning and all that. B-)
        Thank you.

        • Helen says:

          Garlic shouldn’t fail. It might grow big, it might grow small, but that’s about as much variation as there’ll be, in my experience.

          Oh, and without frost, the bulbs might not form cloves but it will still taste like garlic!

          • Kalamain says:

            I don’t think we are going to get much of a frost this year… Unless we get it mid January or February

          • Helen says:

            Seems unlikely, doesn’t it?

          • Kalamain says:

            It’s so mild! Kinda hope we don’t get one now because everything is pushing up. If we get a couple of hard frosts it may bugger up all the new growth I have seen in the garden.
            I had it bad last year with the late frosts. I don’t want it again!

          • Helen says:

            I didn’t notice anything untoward with early stuff – as far as I remember – but later on the cold killed most of the courgettes and beans!

          • Kalamain says:

            My Camellia took a battering, as did my Pieris. Neither had much in the way of flowers.

            My blueberry also lost a fair few buds that died on the stem. And about half of my bedding plants for caught out by the frost… Although that may well have been my fault. >.<

          • Helen says:

            Oh dear! Let’s hope then the same doesn’t happen again.

  2. Awesome post thank you for sharing have a blessed day Helen

  3. patsquared2 says:

    Hey everyone. It’s currently a balmy 19 degrees here, a far cry from last week’s 65. But at least the rain has stopped. We had 18 days our of 21 that were rainy and foggy and dismal as you said Helen. FYI – I wrote about growing garlic – http://growsoeasyorganic.com/2012/08/24/grow-so-easy-garlic-how-to-grow-it-and-harvest-it/ – and I cover everything from sources to harvesting. Garlic is one of my favorites to grow. We plant in mid to late October and harvest in July. It is easy to grow and very easy to store if you just follow a few tips. Hope my post helps. And I hope your onions (will be starting mine from seed this year) grow tall and beautiful. Remember, onions are heavy feeders so a bit of fish emulsion every few weeks will keep them happy. (Also wrote about growing onions – http://growsoeasyorganic.com/2013/02/09/grow-so-easy-organic-how-to-grow-onions/ )

  4. Helen, I’m sorry you’re having a dismal January so far. It’s good that you could get out and expand your horizons before holiday’s end. Being cooped up can make you stir crazy.

    Best of luck with your ever-changing weather. We’re getting the first of the promised El Nino storms this week, but so far nothing too spectacular. We’re heading into year five of the drought. How I wish we could harness your extra rain.

    • Helen says:

      Thank you, Alys. I heard on the radio yesterday that we had 8 inches of rain in December. However, next week is predicted to be more normal with sunshine and, dare I say it, some frost.

      I hope, if El Niño is delivering unwanted water to us it will move its rain clouds in your direction – but just give you rain instead of storms.

  5. Karen says:

    I do hope you are successful with your onions and that your weather includes some sunshine.

  6. Hey Helen … I have good and bad years with onions. I’ve never grown garlic from bulbils, but I’m fairly confident it has self propagated from such. 🙂

    • Helen says:

      I’m sure garlic could do that if other things can. As for the onions, I just hope the current dampness doesn’t make them bolt. However, as I have yet to plant most of them, that might no longer be an issue 🙂

  7. Our January has not been so great either but today should be in the 40’s and melt all the snow and ice. The only complaint I have is that when I was dragging in some of my neighbor’s branches that fell off her tree into my yard, I heard a loud crash and it was a bunch of bottles (plastic) that went crashing onto my garage floor. The liquid car wash soap bottle broke and the contents went everywhere! What a mess! Anyway, long story short, either today or tomorrow I will pour water on the garage floor which will get a well-needed wash! (I will also re-organize that shelf so nothing decides to make a dive bomb again!) LOL! Owning a house is certainly an adventure! I tried to grow garlic from store-bought cloves and nothing happened. At the rate I use garlic, I really should try planting them again!

    • Helen says:

      Yes, houses take a lot of effort. At least you have now found an opportunity to clean the garage floor.

      As for garlic, sounds a plan to get done in when the snow and ice thaw.

I love to read about your own experiences and any other feedback you have, so look forward to your comments below.

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