ABOUT THE PLANT
Description: A short-day white “pearl" onion, that is perfectly smooth, round, and averaging 3/4” in size. A white, thin, papery, parchment covers the bulb. The flavor is sweet and mild and makes the perfect pickling onion.
Origin: Onions are native to Asia. The Barletta is an heirloom from southern Italy.
Usage: Great in a cream sauce as a side dish. They can be pickled, used on skewers, whole in soups and stews, and roasted. Also used as a cocktail garnish.
Interesting facts: The Greeks thought onions were a source of power. Greek athletes and soldiers would eat them and rub the juices on themselves for strength.
HOW TO GROW
General requirements: Needs fertile, well-drained soil amended with compost with a pH of 6-7. Consistent moisture is the key to a successful onion crop. Onions have a shallow root system, so keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Being a short-day onion, 10-12 hours of full sun is necessary for bulb development.
In the garden: Direct sow 1/4-1/2” deep in full sun as soon as soil can be worked. Plant 2 seeds per inch in rows 12” apart. Or sprinkle generously in a shallow 1” trench, cover with soil and maintain moisture to promote germination. When seedlings are 2-4" high, thin to 2-3" apart by snipping with scissors so as not to disturb the remaining bulbs. Fertilize with fish emulsion or compost tea.
In containers: You'll need a well-draining container wide enough so that each onion has about 1-2 inches of space around it. Fill it with good potting soil and place it in an area that will get 10-12 hours of sunlight each day. Plant seeds ½"deep, 1” apart. Once the seedlings are an inch or so tall, keep the best-looking plants by snipping out the rest and ensuring that each remaining seedling is 1-2" away from its neighbors. Fertilize with fish emulsion or compost tea.
Transplanting: Plant seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost date for your area. Fill a tray or container with good drainage at least 4 “ deep with a dampened seed starting mix. Scatter the seeds then mist them lightly with water. Cover them with ½" seed starting mix. Gently firm the soil with your hand. Keep the seeds warm (70-75°F) and damp until they sprout. You can cover the seeds with plastic to help maintain humidity. Once the seedlings sprout, remove the cover and place the flat in a cooler spot that will get 12 or more hours of bright light each day. You may need to use grow lights. Keep the soil moist and fertilize the seedlings with diluted fish emulsion or compost tea. Once the seedlings have grown 5 inches or so, trim the greens down to around 3 inches. Harden off seedlings before transplanting. Place them in the garden at the same depth as they were in the tray. Spacing them 2-3 “ apart.
Bulbs: Harvest after tops dry off and fall over. Use a garden fork or just pull by hand. Brush off any soil. To store, hang bunches in a cool dry place.
Seeds: Onions are biennials which means they flower in their 2nd year. To save seed from onion, select several perfect onions and store them in a cool, dry area until the following spring. Try to replant them at the same depth as when you dug them up. They will begin to send up new growth and eventually a flower stalk. By late summer the flowers, then seed heads will begin to form. As the seed heads dry the seeds will begin to fall out. Remove the seed heads and place them into a paper bag. Shake the bag to release the remaining seeds, then separate the seeds from other debris. After assuring that the seeds are dry, store them in a cool, dry place.
Common name: Barletta, pearl, pickler
Latin name: Allium cepa
Life cycle: biennial, but grown as an annual
USDA Zones: Can grow in all zones because of its short growing days to harvest.
Seeds per ounce: ~9000