Growing Onions in Your Home Garden
Growing onions does not take a lot of space, but will yield pounds of onions! Since onions like well-drained soil, the Raised Bed Garden will suit them quite will. Onions are one of the easiest and most useful vegetables to grow. And there are many varieties to experiment with.
Onions add Spectacular Flavor to Home-Cooked Meals!
Onions are edible bulbs. The flavor is complimentary to many foods and flavors. The extra zip of an onion can make a huge difference in everything from a great pasta sauce, to the perfect hamburger, to a mouth watering salad. The best cooks know the importance of onion in their favorite dishes!
Plant Onions in Full Sun
- Growing onions requires full sun.
- Choose varieties selected for your region that produce bulbs in the early spring.
- Onions grow best in a loose, well-drained soil of high fertility and plenty of organic matter. Onions are sensitive to highly acid soils and grow best when the pH is between 6.2 and 6.8.
- Onions should be planted early in the spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Onion seed is sown 1/2 inch deep, while sets (small bulbs) are planted one to two inches deep. A three-inch plant spacing is desirable.
Onions are technically categorized according to day length; how much day light there is when onions stop forming tops, or new green leaves, and start making bulbs. Although. when you go to purchase them, they may only be labeled as yellow or red.
SHORT DAY ONIONS: Begin forming bulbs when the day length is 10 to 12 hours. (Tend to do better in the south and west.)
LONG DAY ONIONS: Begin forming bulbs when the day length is 14 to 16 hours. (Tend to do better in the North.)
When to Harvest Your Onions
How many days till Harvest? Well, this depends on the type of onion, and whether they were started from seed (110-125 days), transplants (70-90 days) or sets, (50-60 days).
You can actually harvest onions at any stage. The plants you thin from a row can be used as green onions. However, when about 1/2 the tops have fallen over and dried, very gently push the remaining leaves down, without breaking them off the bulb.. Allow the onions to dry in the sun.
On a sunny, breezy day, onions may be pulled and left in the garden for a day or two to dry before they are taken to a curing area. Curing must take place for the onions to be stored for any length of time. Cure onions by placing them in a warm, well-ventilated area until the necks are thoroughly dry. With warm temperatures, good air circulation and low humidity, curing should be completed within two weeks after harvest.
Now it's time to store your onions. Wait until the outside onion skins and neck dry - where the leaves meet the bulbs, starts to shrivel. Now you can store them in a cool, dry location, like your basement. Onions keep longer in cool temperatures (35 - 40 degrees F.) but should not be allowed to freeze. Store onions in mesh bags or braid the tops together and hang them. Just make sure they are kept dry and getting enough air.
General Onion Wisdom:
- Onion bulb size is directly related to the size and number of the leaves. Each leaf translates to a ring of onion. Larger leaves make larger rings. So choosing the right type of onion for your day length will give your onion tops time to form before the onion bulb begins developing - more leaves, more bulb.
- Water-stressed onions are stronger in flavor and more pungent.
- To avoid tears when chopping onions, try putting your onion in the refrigerator for an hour or two before chopping.