Growing Onions – One of Springs first Crops

Onions are relatively easy to grow. The most popular varieties are the yellow onions (cooking), white onions (sweeter taste) and red onions (great in salads).

You can start seeds 8 to ten weeks early, or buy onion sets or plants. I usually use onion sets myself. I tend to have the best luck with them.

Select a site that gets at least 6 hours of sun a day and has soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5. Onions need moderately fertile soil that is well drained but retains moisture. I dig in plenty of compost before I plant my onion sets

You will want to till the soil to a depth of at least 8 inches. This will promote good bulb development. This will also help remove all traces of weeds.

Hint: If I till the soil I let the soil set two days remove what dried weeds and clumps I can (place them in a compost pile) and retill the ground. This helps you to get out any weed roots.

If you are using plants harden them off for a week then set the plants into the ground slightly deeper than they were growing in their pots. Space them 2 to 6 inches apart. The spacing will depend on the variety and how large they will grow.

If you have a floating row cover use it on the seedlings to keep maggot flies from laying eggs. Mulch the crop to help prevent weeds.

I feed the onions plant with compost tea three times durng the season: three weeks after planting, when the tops are 6 inches tall, and finally when the bulbs begin to swell.

Hint: Avoid fertilizers high in nitrogen; they encourage lush tops and tiny bulbs. 

Provide about an inch of water a week until the tops begin to fall over or turn yellow – signs that the bulbs are reaching maturity – then stop watering. To encourage larger bulbs bend the tops over. This keeps the growth in the bulb and not in the stalk. It also prevents seeds from forming.

Start harvesting scallions, or green onions, when the tops are about 6 inches tall: the larger the plants grow, the stronger their flavor becomes. Begin pulling onion bulbs as soon as they’re large enough to use.

I plant my onions in containers, usually a bushel basket. They are easier to harvest and you just dump the container! It’s so much easier on the back.

Hint: I also use onion around the edges of my garden to deter rabbits.

Tags: gowing onions from seed, onion sets or plants, growing onions in containers, onions one of springs first crops, onion growing tips

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2 responses to “Growing Onions – One of Springs first Crops”

  1. Mark Weber

    I have planted a cooking onion which has produced a large stock with a bulb on the end.
    The bulb appears to be seeds?
    What do I do now?

  2. Denise

    Onions need to be gently bent over to stop the energy from growing to the top, producing seeds which take energy away from the bulb.

    Bend the plant over and it should stop seed growth from continuing.

    Bend over the rest of your onions to prevent onion seeds. It doesn’t ruin the onion flavor but you will get a smaller onion.

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