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To Cultivate Onions
from the Household Cyclopedia, 1881
Never use the hoe to the plant except it be for clearing the ground from weeds. When the onions have shot out their leaves to their full size, and when they begin to get a little brown at the top, clear away all the soil from the bulb down to the ring, from whence proceed the fibres of the roots, and thus form a basin round each bulb, which catches the rain and serves as a receptacle for the water from the watering-pot. The old bulbs will then immediately begin to form new ones, and if they are kept properly moist and the soil is good the clusters will be very large and numerous. This is not the only advantage of this mode of treatment, as the bulbs thus grown above ground are much sounder than those formed beneath the surface, and will keep quite as well as any other sort, which was not the case until this plan was adopted. By a particular mode of culture, the onion in this country may be grown nearly in form and size like those from Spain and Portugal. The seeds of the Spanish or Portugal Onion should for this purpose be sown at the usual period in the spring, very thickly, and in poor soil, under the shade of apple or pear-trees. In autumn the bulbs will not be much larger than peas, when they should be taken from the soil and preserved until the succeeding spring, and then planted at some distance from each other, in a good soil, and exposed to the sun. the bulbs will often exceed five inches in diameter, and will keep throughout the winter much better than those cultivated in the usual manner.
The Portuguese Mode of Cultivating Onions.
They must first be raised on a nursery-bed, in the warmest and most sheltered part of the garden, as early in the month of February as the season wall permit; as soon as the plants are strong enough to bear removal, that is to say, when they are about the thickness of a goose-quill, let some puddle be prepared with garden mould and water, with a small proportion of soot, the whole to be of the consistence of thick cream; as the plants are drawn from the seed-bed, let their routs be instantly immersed in the puddle, and there remain till they are transplanted, where they are permanently to continue. The plants should be set out about six inches apart, and the ground kept perfectly clear of weeds, and regularly refreshed with water in hot and dry weather. On this latter circumstance will very much depend their size and mildness, to this is owing the superiority of onions grown in Portugal, which are all cultivated in the way here recommended. By keeping the roots in puddle, if it were only for a few minutes, during the interval between the taking up and transplanting, they are prevented from receiving the slightest check from the access of the atmospheric air, and will require no immediate watering when first transplanted.
To obtain a good Crop of Onions.
In order to obtain a good crop of onions it is proper to sow at different seasons, viz., in light soils, in August, January, or early in February; and, in heavy wet soils, in March, or early in April. Onions, however, should not be sown in January, unless the ground be in a dry state, which is not often the case at so early a period of the season: but if so, advantage should be taken of it.