For those of you who are ready to start planting early this spring, we have a great selection of Potatoes, Onions & Garlic. A good rule of thumb is you can plant potatoes and onions directly in the garden after St. Patrick’s Day, but with our unpredictable Colorado weather it is important to keep an eye on them. Use mulch, Season Extenders, or cover with row covers to help protect veggies from low temperatures. Garlic bulbs can be planted in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Shop early to find the best available selection and store your potatoes, onions and garlic in a cool, dry environment until you’re ready to plant.
Potato plants are not grown from seed, so to produce a potato plant you will need seed potatoes, which are potatoes that have been carefully screened for common viruses and stored for planting. Seed Potato plants are not grown from seed, so to produce a potato plant you will need seed potatoes, which are potatoes that have been carefully screened for common viruses and stored for planting. Seed potatoes can be planted whole or cut into pieces with at least one eye per piece. Those with more eyes will grow to produce a larger quantity of potatoes that are smaller in size while those with fewer eyes will produce fewer potatoes that are larger in size. For planting, choose a sunny spot with loose well-draining soil so that the roots and tubers can develop. Here are some delicious varieties to consider:
Yukon Gold Potatoes: This is a smooth, round, yellow-skinned potato with pink around the eyes. Yukon Gold has mildly yellow flesh with a great flavor for baking, boiling or salads.
Viking Purple Potato: This heirloom has smooth dark purple skin and pure white flesh that make it great for mashing. It is a high-yielding potato developed at North Dakota State University.
Dark Red Norland Potato: This heirloom has an almost burgundy skin with white flesh. This high yield potato keeps well and is great for potato salad.
Purple Majesty Potato: This potato features deep purple skin and a purple flesh that retains its color when cooked. It tastes great baked, boiled or fried. Purple Majesty potatoes were developed locally by Colorado State University.
There are three options to grow onions: seeds, sets, and plants.
- Seeds: Seeds are available in many varieties, and should be planted as early as soon soil is workable in spring. Harvest them in their first season to enjoy the tastiest onions, or let them overwinter and continue growing a second season to bloom and produce seed for future planting.
- Sets: Small onion bulbs that are harvested before maturity from the first year of an onion’s life cycle and stored through winter. Although sets are easy to find and plant, they often yield smaller onions, making them more well-suited to produce green onions rather than larger bulb onions. Since onions grown with sets are in the second year of their life cycle, they are more likely to bolt, or grow a flower from the center of the bulb.
- Plants: Onion seedlings that are started in the current growing season and are ready for transplant into your garden. These typically produce larger and juicier bulbs than sets. Plants are preferable to seeds when early spring temperatures are unpredictable.
For planting, choose a very sunny location with 8 hours or more of direct sun per day with fertile soil that drains well. Onions are heavy feeders and benefit greatly from an application of a nitrogen-rich fertilizer such as El Primero Organic Garden Fertilizer (21-4-4) locally made by Alpha One. You’ll cry tears of joy after tasting one of these savory varieties:
Highlander Onion: This sweet onion has early maturing bulbs that grow up to 4”. They are easy to cure and store well for up to 5 months.
Red Candy Apple Onion: This onion features a large, flattened red globe and is the type of red onion you’ll find in an Italian restaurant or salad bar. There is limited storage capacity with this one.
Superstar Onion: This large, white onion has a mild, sweet flavor and stores up to 2 months. It is the only white onion to win All American Selection!
Walla Walla Onion: This onion has pale yellow scales with white interior and is the sweetest of the long day varieties. They can be stored for one month.
Garlic grows from individual cloves broken off from the whole bulb. It is easy to grow and requires very little space in the garden. While the ideal time to plant garlic is in the fall, it can still be planted successfully in early spring. Garlic should be planted in a fertile, well-drained soil, avoiding areas where water can collect around the roots. The cloves should be planted 1-2 inches into the ground with the pointed end up. Give your meals some bite with one of these wonderful varieties:
Early Italian Purple Garlic: This bulb is large and white-skinned with purple stripes and numerous small cloves. Early Italian Purple Garlic adapts to summer heat better than the Italian late variety.
Inchelium Red Garlic: This large 3” bulb produces 8-20 cloves with mild but lasting flavor with just a hint of heat. The dense cloves store well and the flavor gets stronger in storage.
Nootka Rose Garlic: This medium to large bulb has 15-20 cloves per bulb which are streaked red. It’s flavor is strong and it is very attractive for braiding.
Silver Rose Garlic: Silver Rose Garlic produces rose-colored cloves in very smooth bright-white bulbs. Frequently planted in the spring, this is a fast growing garlic that produces 12-15 cloves per bulb.
Originally published on March 1st, 2019. Updated on March 2nd, 2022.