Garden Docs: Tips to keep onions from bolting

Jimmy C. asks: What causes onions to bolt? I’ve grown onions for years and never had a problem before.

When planting onion sets in mild areas, only the smallest sets should be planted. Larger sets often grow too fast, bolting into flower as soon as the weather warms up and before the bulbs have had a chance to mature.

Onion sets planted in October aren’t so likely to bolt since their growth is slower during the winter months.

Remember the warm days and sporadic temperature changes? It most likely caused the early bolting.

Remove the blooms and hope that the early flowering hasn’t drained too much nourishment from the onion bulb.


Stephen H. asks: What can you tell me about gabions? A garden friend suggested I add a gabion as a garden element when I re-do the front yard and take out the turf.

A gabion is made of hog wire that is formed into a cage or multiple cages (sometimes called “baskets”) that can be used to create a retaining wall, base for a bench, a fence or a stand-alone, natural-appearing garden element. The ”big cage” interior is filled with fieldstone or other native stones that complement the surroundings. The top of the gabion can be of any height depending on its intended function and left open or capped off with more wire or even capped off with wood for a garden bench. Gabions are a creative application of rock/stone work that can be accomplished by most as long as there is some available muscle.

Ideas for using gabions in the garden can be found on the website pinterest.com. There is a wonderful little garden on Franklin Avenue in Santa Rosa that uses gabions as garden elements, and it is most effective as part of a drought-tolerant garden design.


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