question: Most of my onions last year were small. They only had two or three shifts. What should I do to get better onions this year?

reply: Good soil preparation, the right planting at the right time and good plant nutrition ensure better onions this year.

Onions are best for loose, well-drained soils. If you haven’t had one in a few years, start with a soil test. Then, take about an inch of organic matter into the soil you plant your bulbs in, as well as any other changes your soil test results recommend.

Each layer of onion is the base of a leaf. If you want more layers and bigger bulbs you will need more leaves, which takes time and good plant nutrition. It’s too late now to start seeding your bulbs, but if you’re planting onion sets or transplants in the next week, there will still be time for your bulbs to develop plenty of leaves in cool spring weather. These leaves begin to form onion layers when our long, hot summer days arrive.

Good nutrition also helps with leaf growth. Keep your plants weed-free, especially in the first half of the season, so that there is no competition for nutrients. Provide additional nitrogen again in mid-May and late June. Do not fertilize afterwards.

Onions aren’t very deeply rooted. Water evenly to avoid drought stress, but also not to keep the soil moist. A layer of mulch – straw, compost, clippings, etc. – will help with this. Stop watering if the tips tip over. Better durability.

question: What specific variety of Japanese maple is good for Northwest Utah County? We want a Japanese maple that would grow to a height of 20 to 40 feet. Is there a variety that meets these conditions?

reply: Japanese maples are popular trees that are valued for their fall color and attractive branching. I really can’t recommend just one particular variety as Japanese maples are a large group and there are many that could do well in Utah County. However, I can give you a few things to consider when looking at your choices.

Our climate extremes can be a little too much for Japanese maples – hot and dry with intense sun in summer and extremely cold with dry winds in winter. Japanese maples are better suited to milder, more humid climates, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful with a Japanese maple.

Choose a location with some shelter from the afternoon sun and where the tree can be watered separately from the lawn. Your tree will need to be soaked deeply weekly, but it doesn’t do well with frequent watering.

Varieties with deeply dissected leaves are more prone to scorching in summer, so you may have fewer problems and a better looking tree if you avoid these varieties. There are still many varieties to choose from; Bloodgood is an example of the leaf shape that performs better here.

Prepare the soil in this part of the landscape by having a soil test done. You can find information about the soil test at home under It is important that you fill your planting hole with the same soil that you took from it. Don’t mix compost, peat moss, potting soil, or anything else in the soil before putting it back in the hole when you are planting. If you have to do something special for your soil, it is important that you do so over a large area of ​​the planting location, not just the planting hole.

Good drainage is also important and sometimes a problem in your area. So also dig a hole about 3 feet deep nearby, fill it with water, and make sure the water drains within 24 hours. If there is a drainage problem, this is not a good location for a tree.

After planting, you need to water deeply about twice a week. Your watering should go beyond the root ball area. As soon as the tree is established, it should always be watered deeply, but only once a week in summer and less often in spring and autumn.