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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Planting Potatoes, Onions and Peas

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My orders of seed potatoes and onion plants should arrive this week. Since I always plant both crops before Valentine’s Day, I order from companies that will ship to me when I’m ready. Most seed companies selling potatoes and onion plants have the caption, “Will ship at the correct planting time for your region.”

I’ve learned over the years that seed companies rely on their wholesale growers to ship to them first, before the catalog folks can ship to me. Years ago I decided to go right to the source and skip the seed catalog completely. Since the wholesale growers already have their onion plants and seed potatoes in stock, they’ll ship anytime the customer wants them shipped.

For the last several seasons I’ve order from Wood Prairie Farm in Bridgewater, Maine (; 800-829-9765). They sell to gardeners as well as wholesale to other companies. I want my seed potatoes shipped the first of February, and it’s not a problem for them, and they don’t give me the runaround about “planting time in my area.” By ordering from these folks, I have a considerably larger selection of potato varieties than will be available in garden centers in a month or so. I like Rose Gold and Yukon Gem, both yellow-fleshed, good producing potatoes. I also grow the red-fleshed Adirondack Red, all of which produce well in the Ozarks.

Super Star onions

I order onion plants from Dixondale Farms in Carrizo Springs, Texas (877-367-1015; They are a commercial grower for the seed catalogs as well as shipping to garden centers, hardware stores and nurseries. They are also happy to sell to the home gardener and offer a good variety of onion plants. You can order by what grows best for your region (based on day-length). The Intermediate-Day varieties do best in the Ozarks and I order both a mixed selection or super sweets and red varieties, along with Super Star, the only onion to win the All-American Selections award. I’ve had great results with those in the past.

I’ve done comparisons in previous years, planting onion sets and onion plants side by side on the same date. Plants are always ready about 10 days earlier than sets in my garden, but lots of people still prefer sets.

If we have a repeat of last year’s heat and drought in mid-summer, as predicted, the best bet for good crops is early planting. By planting both in mid-February, potatoes and onions will be mature and ready for harvest well before the drought begins.

According to Ozarks tradition, peas should be planted on Valentine’s Day and I have mine ready to go. I’m planting 4 varieties this year, some for early harvest and others for later. Even if we have frigid weather, all three of these crops will survive just fine. Happy spring!

To see more garden stories, visit my gardening adventures blog

Ozarks Gardening, Copyright Jim Long, 2013

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