How To Grow Onions

Welcome to the World of How To Grow Onions!

Onions are a versatile and rewarding vegetable to grow, even for complete beginners. This guide will get you started on the right foot, from choosing your onions to harvesting your tasty bounty.

1. Onion Planting Methods

There are three methods to planting onions, each coming with a unique set of pros and cons. Here is a breakdown of all three methods to help you choose the onion planting method to fit your needs.

Onion Sets

Small bulbs grown specifically for planting. Easiest method, ideal for spring planting. When shopping for onion sets, don’t look in the seed packet section. They typically come in a small breathable mesh bag.

  • Pros: Easiest, fastest for spring planting, good variety, early harvest.
  • Cons: Limited variety, higher cost per bulb, potential for bolting (flowering) with larger sets.

Onion Seedlings

Started indoors 6-8 weeks before last frost, then transplanted. Provides wider variety, good for cooler climates.

  • Pros: Widest variety, good for cooler climates, control over spacing and timing.
  • Cons: More work starting indoors, longer wait for harvest, fragile at transplant.

Timing your transplant will help reduce risk of damage or disease, but this is a point that needs emphasis. Transplanting onions is widely considered a bad idea. When it comes to transplanting, variety matters just as much as choosing a quality seedling supplier.

Onion Seeds

Sown directly outdoors in early spring or late fall. If you are looking for a great deal on onion seeds check out this seed pack that includes 8 popular onion varieties.

  • Pros: Most cost-effective, can sow succession plantings for extended harvest.
  • Cons: Takes longest to reach maturity, requires thinning seedlings, vulnerable to weeds and weather.

Patients is extremely important when growing onions from seed. It never fails, when you are about to give up on them the onions start sprouting. Germination can take several weeks, and starting them indoors does not speed up that process.

2. Best Location and Soil To Grow Onions

Sun: Full sun (at least 6 hours) is crucial for bulb development.

Soil: Well-draining, fertile soil with a pH of 6.0-6.8. Amend heavy clay with compost or sand.

3. Planting Onion Seeds

Spacing: Depends on desired bulb size. For medium onions, space sets/seedlings 4 inches apart, rows 12-18 inches apart. In general, each onion seed pack will have spacing instructions based on the mature onion size of that specific variety.

Depth: Plant sets/seedlings with just the tip showing, seeds ½-¾ inch deep.

4. How To Care for Your Onions

Watering: Keep soil consistently moist, especially during bulb formation. Avoid overwatering. For seedlings and early growth keep soil evenly moist, but not soggy. Aim for 1-2 inches of water per week, adjusting for rainfall.

During the bulb formation portion of the onion life cycle increase water to 2 inches per week. Deep soak to encourage bulb development, allowing soil to dry slightly between waterings. Gradually reduce water as tops brown and fall over. Stop watering 1-2 weeks before harvest for best storage quality.

Weeding: Regularly remove weeds to prevent competition for nutrients and water.

Fertilizing: Light application of balanced fertilizer once or twice during the growing season.

5. Harvesting Onions and Storage

Harvest: When tops brown and fall over (generally 80-100 days). Leave bulbs in the ground for a few days to cure. As mentioned previously, it’s a good idea to stop watering approximately one week before harvest.

Storage: Store dry, well-cured onions in a cool, dark, well-ventilated space. They can last several months.

Important Things To Know When Growing Onions

  • Companion planting: Marigolds and basil can deter pests.
  • Mulching: Helps retain moisture and suppress weeds.
  • Succession planting: Extend your harvest by planting sets/seeds at intervals throughout the season.

Remember: Onions are relatively low-maintenance. Be patient, observe your plants, and adjust your care as needed. Soon, you’ll be enjoying the fruits (or should we say bulbs?) of your labor!

If you enjoyed Ace’s guide on how to grow onions, check out this guide on how to grow cauliflower.

For seed germination tips for vegetables that are transplantable (not onions) read this step-by-step manual on how to germinate seeds.

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