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Milberger's Nursery and Landscaping
3920 North Loop 1604 E.
San Antonio, TX 78247

Three exits east of 281, inside of 1604
Next to the Diamond Shamrock station
Please click map for more detailed map and driving directions.

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Mid to late October is the time to plant seed of the "Bermuda" onion types.

When you label an onion as a "Bermuda," you really haven't said much. The general term "Bermuda" usually refers to the white or red onion used on hamburgers. Actually, the white "Bermuda" onion is the Crystal Wax variety and the red "Bermuda" onion is the Burgundy Red Variety. The general term "Bermuda" is nomenclature inherited by onions, which at one time were propagated on the Bermuda Islands. This procedure was followed only to enhance seed production and did not signify any specific quality factors.

Even the super sweet, eat?it?like?an?apple, Grano 502 variety is a Bermuda type. The Grano 502 has become one of the most beloved home garden onion varieties in this area. However, its progeny is much more famous. Texans know the offspring of the elliptical shaped Grano 502 as the disc?shaped Granex. However, the Texas Granex has gained most notoriety when referred to as the Vidalia onion from Georgia. Texas producers are growing the same onion, which is just as sweet if not sweeter than the Vidalia, yet many times have to plow the crop under because of poor market prices while the Georgians get rich. The power of advertising and suggestion pays off! Yet once something is touted as "the best", there is always an effort to better "the best". Texas A&M has bettered the best!

Texas A&M onion breeders have produced a better, i.e., sweeter, larger, more disease?resistant, onion named Texas A&M Supersweet or 1015Y, which stands for the October 15 planting date and Yellow onion. Supersweet has been judged the mildest and sweetest when competing against the Vidalia, Maui (Hawaiian onion) and California Imperial Sweet onions.

Plant seed now. Seeds can be sown directly into the garden, covered with 1/4 inch of soil and should sprout within 7 to 10 days. If planted thickly, plants can be pulled and utilized as green onions or scallions for salads or fresh eating in 8 to 10 weeks. However, most gardeners want to grow an onion bulb as large as a basketball. To do this, the onion plants must be thinned by next February until they are at least 2 to 3 inches apart to insure adequate bulb expansion. The removed plants can be used for scallions or for transplanting into another area of the garden so that these, too, will have adequate space in which to enlarge into large bulbs.

Fertilization of onion plants is vital to success. Texas A&M research findings indicate that onion growth and yield can be greatly enhanced by banding phosphorus 2 to 3 inches below seed at planting time. This phosphorus acts as a starter solution that invigorates the growth of young seedlings. Banding phosphorus, such as super phosphate (0?20?0), 2 to 3 inches below the seed involves making a trench 3 inches deep, distributing 1/2 cup of super phosphate per 10 row feet, covering the phosphate with soil, sowing seed and covering lightly with one?half inch or less of soil. Once established, onion plants should receive additional amounts of fertilizer (10?10?5, 15?10?10) as a side?dress application every month.

Gardeners who tend to procrastinate should be warned that planting later than October could mean failure. Failure in onion production comes in two forms—complete annihilation of the young seedlings during a cold winter, or an abundance of spring onion flowers which decrease bulb size, weight and storage ability. Onion plants that are small and rapidly growing when the cold temperatures of winter arrive will probably not survive. Yet, if you plant earlier and the stem of onion plants are larger than a pencil when exposed to cold temperatures, the onion will initiate and produce a flower during the following spring. This flowering is termed as bolting. Bolting requires low temperatures. Most rapid bolting is the result of temperatures between 40 to 45 degrees F. or below. Fall seeded crops are susceptible to bolting the following spring if warm fall temperatures, allowing excessive growth, are followed by low winter temperatures and slowed growth.

Many gardeners believe that early removal of the onion flower stalk will cause onion bulb enlargement but this has not proven to be the case. Flowering causes a decrease in bulb size as well as a central flower stalk which enhances decay during storage. This is exactly what will happen to those who are planting onion transplants or sets now with the hope of large onions next spring. The onion bulbs which produce a flower stalk may be large but they will be light?weight (1/2 the weight of a comparable size, non?flowered onion bulb) and prone to decay. Obviously, what you see is not always what you get!

So, for a surefire onion success, begin planting now to insure that you have plenty of those sweet stinkers to enjoy next June. The best way to insure success is to either plant the onion seed from now until November 15, or plant transplants from January through February.

For more information about growing onions, which varieties to use and the history of sweet onion development in the U.S., see: