Organic Gardening

Get dirty, have fun and grow more food with great gardening tips from real-life gardeners.

Add to My MSN

Protecting Our Right to Save Seed, Fighting GMOs, and Growing Onions

1/14/2012 4:06:02 PM

Tags: Egyptian Onions, Southern Gardening, Gardening in the Southeast, GMOs, Seed Saving, Onions, Ira Wallace, Ira Wallace

Detroit Dark Red BeetPungo Creek Butcher Dent Corn

I started this post with pictures of beets and corn (the classic heirloom Detroit Dark Red beet and gorgeous Pungo Creek Butcher dent grinding corn) because they are among the crops most threatened by GMO contamination, as I was reminded by “why i called the white house: the alfalfa crisis,” a recent post in Margaret Roach’s great garden blog A Way To Garden. Thanks to Margaret for her call to action!

We’re busy on the farm with filling seed orders and making plans to go to New York January 31 to attend the oral arguments in an Anti-GMO Lawsuit against Monsanto. Southern Exposure is one the 83 plaintiffs defending the right to save seed without fear of genetic contamination. Follow developments and learn how you can support the farmers involved at  

Yellow Sweet Spanish OnionAlliums on Sunset Ridge at our Farm

We’ve also been busy this month sowing onions in our hoop houses. There is still time for everyone except those in the lower and coastal south to start onions from seed. The rule of thumb is to draw a line across the US from San Francisco to Washington DC.  South of this line Short Day types do best, and north of the line Long Day types should be grown.  But if you're right near the line, you should choose more intermediate types.  We find that for gardeners like us, in the middle range or just around 38 degrees, it’s best to grow Long Day types that tend toward the shorter range – 13 to 14 hours of day light cause bulbing (combined with a temperature trigger). We have plenty of Yellow of Parma, Australian Brown, and Yellow Sweet Spanish seedlings growing in our high tunnel. If you prefer to start with plants, the folks at Dixondale farms have the best assortment of onion seedlings I’ve found anywhere and they are so helpful. Read about how to grow bulb onions >>  Short Day onions don't store very well,  so if you're in the South you might want to grow perennial multiplier onions as a storage onion.

Yellow Potato Onions Egyptian Walking Onions

I’m glad that we planted lots of perennial Yellow Potato Onions back in November. Planting those bulbs in the fall is so much easier than fussing with onion transplants in the middle of winter. Brook Elliot has a great article about these old fashioned onions and other “Other Onions.” Potato onions have been found to produce a higher yield per acre than any crop except staked tomatoes! Along with Egyptian onions and Perennial Leeks, the starter bulbs normally ship in the fall, but it’s good to order them now along with your seeds because they often sell out on pre-orders.

Learn more about other things to get started indoors or in a cold frame this month, like globe artichokes and rhubarb, from Lisa Dermer in her Southern Exposure Seed Exchange blog post What to Sow in January.

Thanks for stopping by and we hope you’ll come back often to see what we’re growing and cooking.


 Ira Wallace lives and gardens at Acorn Community Farm home of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange where she coordinates variety selection and seed growers. Southern Exposure offers 700+varieties of Non-GMO, open pollinated and organic seeds. Ira is also a co-organizer of the Heritage Harvest Festival at Monticello. She serves on the board of the Organic Seed Alliance and is a frequent presenter at the Mother Earth News Fairs and many other events throughout the Southeast.  

Content Tools

Post a comment below.


Shawn Breshears
1/15/2012 5:01:39 PM
Thanks for your work to preserve natural foods, we are rooting for you and doing our part by getting petitions gathered that will require GMO labeling in California. It's time to sue the "Monsteranto" (Monster + Monsanto) for polluting our seeds with their depleted guranium. Yes, I just made that up!

Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.