Six Easy Steps to Growing Onions
By Jodi Torpey
There’s no crying in onion-growing. That’s because it’s easy to grow onions in your vegetable garden when you start with healthy onion sets.
Onions are a cool-season, biennial vegetable and onion sets make planting simple. An onion set is a small bulb that will grow into a larger bulb, because it’s already gone through one bulbing process.
Here are six steps to homegrown onion success:
Step One: Select the onion varieties meant for the region, like day-neutral types. These onions will know when to start forming their bulbs once they’ve received their preferred number of daylight hours.
Step Two: Plant onion sets in early spring ( about 4-6 weeks before the last freeze date) in a garden spot that has rich, well-drained soil and gets full sun. Onions will grow as big as their space allows.
Plant onion sets about 1 inch deep and space plants so there’s no crowding. Make sure their limited root system can spread out (about 4-6 inches). Onions can also be planted in raised beds.
Step Three: Be sure to show your onions a lot of love. In addition to soil that’s well-amended with compost and other organic matter, onions need a consistent supply of fertilizer while they’re growing. Some gardeners say onions may need as much as twice the amount of fertilizer as other garden-grown vegetables.
Step Four: As bulbs start getting larger, side-dress the onion patch with additional nutrients. Use a balanced fertilizer or good quality compost and apply in a shallow channel near the onion rows, then cover with soil. Take care to keep fertilizer away from the foliage and bulbs themselves.
Step Five: Keep watering the onions to allow nutrients to slowly reach the roots. Don’t let plants dry out or bulbs may split. If leaves start to yellow, plants may be getting too much water. Keep onion bed weed-free with mulch and avoid cultivating or pulling weeds that can disturb the onion’s delicate root system.
Step Six: When onions start pushing the topsoil away, stop fertilizing and let bulbs grow. Some of the bulb will start to show above the soil, but resist the urge to re-cover it. As soon as onion tops begin to topple over, stop watering and get ready to harvest.
Dig onions when most of the green tops have fallen, but before the foliage dries completely.
Any ideas for how you’ll use all of your delicious, home-grown onions?