Readying the onion rows

The first rows we pull every January are for onions. Here in Texas we grow only short-day varieties, meaning types that start to bulb when the length of daylight reaches 10-12 hours per day. The tops will start falling over at the end of May, at which point we'll harvest and spread them out on wire tables in the greenhouse to dry for a couple weeks. This is what it looked like last year. 


The first thing we do is amend the rows to make a hospitable environment for our babies, which we did a couple weeks ago. We're currently using a formula of homemade compost, organic fertilizer, worm castings, and molasses. Then we pull the rows. This can be tricky... If you have a cover crop growing, you want it to grow as long as possible before you chop it in. However, if you get a series of rains, the dirt (I refuse to call it "soil" until it starts behaving like it) won't dry out enough to pull the rows by the time you need to get your plants in. When I say "pull" the rows, I'm talking about pulling this sucker behind the tractor. 

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It's pretty cool. Basically it works like this: as you drive down a row, the scoopy deal with the "2600" written on it gathers dirt and funnels it up into a bed. Those two rolls at the top are drip tape (through which we water the plants), which stream out as you drive along and get buried within the bed. The big wide roll of plastic is a mulch layer (it keeps moisture in and weeds down), and it's laid over the top of the bed, held down by the two wheels you see floating there and then buried by those discs on the back. It's awesome. In other words, in just minutes, it turns this:

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Into this:

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All that's left is to set up the transplanter and start popping those puppies in! With the beautiful weather coming the next few days, that'll be a piece of cake.