Ontario has great growing conditions for a variety of produce. From fruit trees to carrots, our summer growing season offers us a farmers market selection for you to grow. Potatoes and onions are one of the easiest to grow, and are often over-looked. We have an amazing selection of potatoes and onions for you to plant now!
How to Grow Potatoes
A culinary staple, potatoes are half-hardy in our region. This means you need to plant them in early spring every year and harvest them later in the season, as they will not survive our winters. While they need a sunny location, their root systems need protection throughout our summer season.
- Purchase quality seed potatoes; we have the following varieties ( Yukon Gold, Banana Fingerling, Russian Blue, Red Pontiac, Norland, Nicola, Kennebc, Caribe, and Bintje ). When planting, make sure the potato has at least 2 eyes. You can plant in our area in April-early May depending on frost. You can cut-up the seed potatoes into smaller sections, if your seed potato has many eyes. If you choose to do this, make sure you let the potato sit out for 1-2 days once you cut it before planting, this forms a hard layer that can help protect it from rot.
- Choose an area that receives lots of natural sunlight, and has sandy-loose soil. Potatoes are best grown in rows. Dig a trench, about 4 inches deep, and place potatoes about 12″ apart, eye side up.
- Water as they grow, as they require consistent moisture.
- HILL; Hilling your potatoes as they grow is the key to a bountiful harvest. Every-time the plant grows 6-8 inches in leaves, you want to mound around the plant with either straw, mulch or loose soil until only 2-4″ of the leaves show above the ground. Do this every-time the plant grows 6-8 inches until it begins to blossom.
- Harvest: When the plant begins to wither and die, usually about August, is when it is time to harvest. Brush off any soil from the potatoes, and store in a cool-dry place. Make sure you do not wash your potatoes until the day you want to cook with them.
URBAN POTATO GARDEN; GROW YOUR POTATOES IN A GARBAGE CAN
You can grow 3-4 potato plants in a 30 gallon garbage can! This is great when you have limited space. Start by drilling drainage holes into the bottom of you can, and choose a nice loose soil. It would be best to mix potting soil, we recommend our urban garden which is rich in nutrients, with some coarse sand to create a loose soil. Place your can in a sunny location, at least 6 hours. Put about 6″ of soil into your can and place about 3-4 sections of potatoes, each section needs at least 2 eyes. Let them dry for a day, and place them cut side down. Add 3-4″ of soil and water well. Just like hilling, you need to place more soil as the plant grows. For every 6-8″ that the plant grows, you need to add about 3-4″ of your soil. Continue to do this until you reach the top of the container or until the plant begins to bloom. When the plants are ready to harvest, simply turn and dump your garbage can!
How to Grow Onions
- Onions grow best in raised beds or rows at least 4 inches high, in a sunny location. The soil needs to be loose, and either had manure put in it the season before, or fresh compost before planting. Onions are heavy feeders, and will produce large bulbs if given a good soil.
- Onions can be planted as soon as you can get into the ground in early spring, they are cold tolerant. Purchase good quality onion sets, seeds can be hard to grow and hard to transplant. We carry the following varieties (multiplier, red, white, spanish, yellow, and french shallots). Plant the onion so it is only 1 inch deep, with 4 to 5 inches between each plant. Plant in rows 12 to 18 inches apart.
- Fertilize every 2 weeks with a fertilizer high in nitrogen, stop fertilizing when the onions start to push soil away, this is known as the bulbing process. Bulbs will eventually emerge from the soil.
- Onions do not require a lot of moisture, they only need about one inch every week. Make sure during our summer droughts, that you do water, as onions going through a drought will look normal but not grow as well. If you want sweeter onions, water a bit more frequently.
- Cut or pull up any onions that send-up flowers, this is known as bolting.
- Harvest: Mature onion tops will start to wilt and yellow. When this happens you can bend the tops down to speed the ripening process. Loosen the soil around the onion to speed up the drying process. Be careful when doing this, as onions can bruise easily, and bruised onions can be begin to rot. After a few days, turn them up in the soil futher and allow them to cure. When the tops go completely brown, pull the onions outs. You still need to further dry them, for several weeks, before you store them in a cool dry place. Store in braids, our break off the stem. Do not store with potatoes.
Potatoes and onions store very well, and you can use them through-out the winter. Imagine having your own potatoes and onions for thanksgiving, and other holidays!