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Trying Onion Sets.. in my area?

Posted: Tue Apr 05, 2016 2:10 pm
by Toxic1979
I wanted to try onion sets (Red Karmen, White Dutch, Sturon) in the raised bed garden this year. I live in North eastern Canada. We can usually consider the last week of May to be our frost free start time, (I usually wait till first week in June) and the first week of October to be our first week of frost.

I have a greenhouse, and 6- 4'x6' cloche covered raised beds (4 mil plastic film). I would rather try the onions in the open environment (my 8x12 raised beds without covering), but if others figure the season is too short, or temps are not good enough in my area, then maybe I will reconsider the possible waste of time and space in the garden.

Whats your opinion regarding an attempt to grow onion from sets in my area? Our Day temp in summer are about 20-25 celsius, and in evening around 10-15 celsius, from mid June until mid September. After mid Sept our temps are about 10-15 during day, and about 5-10 at night, until the first/ second week of October, where nights dip below 0 celsius.

Thanks in Advance!

Re: Trying Onion Sets.. in my area?

Posted: Tue Apr 05, 2016 11:25 pm
by Peter1142
I recommend using plants not sets. Your season doesn't sound too short. Just get the right variety, which is a lot easier with plants.

Re: Trying Onion Sets.. in my area?

Posted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 2:12 am
by Toxic1979
Really? Should I start seedling indoors.... probably about now in order to get them in the garden by the first week of June?

Thats great news if works out for me! Why would you suggest not using bulbs? Im just curious, as I've never planted onions before.


Re: Trying Onion Sets.. in my area?

Posted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 2:13 am
by applestar
Wow you are pretty far north according to Wiki
Location of Labrador City in Labrador
Coordinates: 52°57′N 66°55′W
Country Canada
Province Newfoundland and Labrador
Although typically, onion sets are said to be ready to plant about one month to 6 weeks before last average frost once the ground has thawed, you may want to consider seriously freeze hardy varieties. At first glance you seem to have chosen ones that are popular in UK, and that would be good in terms of latitude and day length -- and you must have some really long days during the summer! --but most of UK's lowest temperature climate can be comparatively milder than where you are, I think?

What you would need to watch out for is killing freeze that could wipe out bulb onions. According this, Walla Walla variety and most potato/multiplier onions are hardiest and can survive down to 5°F (-15°C): ... wling-2013

Besides Walla Walla which is the only one I had heard about, Candy and Bridger are also killing freeze hardy varieties, according to this article:

Plant onions for overwintering now - The Washington Post ... story.html

I can understand your wanting to save the greenhouse and cloche covered space, but you may still want to give them some protection with simple hoops and row covers?

That's about all I can think of. You must face some really challenging conditions. :shock: Hopefully other members from similar climate will contribute. :-()

Re: Trying Onion Sets.. in my area?

Posted: Wed Apr 06, 2016 9:34 pm
by Peter1142
I suggest buying plants instead of sets because you can choose more varieties and the sets are prone to bolting instead of bulbing. They are very hardy and you can put them out in 20F. Recommended checking out Dixondale Farms. They list the adapted latitudes and days to maturity of each variety.

Re: Trying Onion Sets.. in my area?

Posted: Wed Apr 13, 2016 12:50 am
by Toxic1979
A typical day here, right now, consists of -20 celsius in evenings and upwards of +10 Celsius in mid afternoon. Ground is still frozen at about 4-6 feet. Its spring here.. yah! lol

But yes, the weather can be challenging at times here. Especially during the transition seasons, fall and spring, which coincidentally are very critical to planting and harvesting times!

I did try to select winter hardy varieties..... from a UK website that made suggestions! Good observation! LOL

Our days in mid summer (July to mid Aug) are typically sunrise at about 430 am, sunset at around 10 pm.

I checked out Dixondale Farms. Good info. Thanks! They list areas good the US, but unfortunately not Canada. I would assume that long day onions would be my recommended choice.

I will try sets, and seeds this year. I'll plant my sets when the soil thaws and the frost leaves, and I'll plant my seeds as seedlings next week and transplant them to the garden when I plant my sets.

I may also try planting a few in some large grow bags (Seedlings and sets). Just as a trial. I have few grow bags that are 15" high, and 18" wide.

Re: Trying Onion Sets.. in my area?

Posted: Fri May 13, 2016 1:12 am
by Toxic1979
Would onion sets be okay to leave outside when temperatures are about 0 celsius... or even -5 Celsius?

Roughly 23 to 32 Fahrenheit.