Every good cook loves and appreciates onions. By growing your own you can have access to tasty varieties stores don't offer. When selecting varieties, pick some sweet options that probably don't store as well as some specifically bred for storage. Then you'll enjoy your own onions virtually year-round. Typically, we only buy one bag of Vidalia onions in late spring. The rest of our onions come from the garden.
Our favorite supplier of onions is Dixondale Farms.
- Cool season crop.
- Buy plants or sets.
- Plant the right type of onion for your area: Long-Day, Intermediate-Day or Short-Day. This handy map from Dixondale Farms will help gardeners in the United States make good choices.
Planting and Tending
- Plant in garden as soon as the garden has thawed and drained and the soil is workable -- typically that's April for us.
- Plant 1” deep, with 2 to 4 inches between plants. Allow 12 inches between rows. If onions are 2 inches apart, harvest every other one as green onions so that the bulb development of the remaining onions is not impeded by neighboring plants.
- Fertilize in late May/ early June by side dressing (don't touch the plants) with compost, cottonseed meal or an organic product formulated for vegetables. Alternately, apply liquid fertilizer in the form of fish emulsion or compost tea.
- Keep free of weeds.
- Suplement rainfall with irrigation if necessary. Ideally, onions want about 2 inches of water per week.
- Harvest in late summer when the plants are matured and the tops fall over naturally. On average, onions mature in about 12 weeks.
- As the onion reaches maturity, a number of events occur. The neck tissue softens, the tops begin to fall over and the roots begin to die. During this period food material stored in the leaves is transferred to the storage bulb, resulting in a rapid increase in bulb size.
- Let the harvested bulbs air dry in a dry place out of the sun, but with indirect light. We place ours near an open garage door or just inside a shed. Full air circulation for 2 weeks is necessary for complete drying and curing.
- Once dried, cut the tops leaving 1 to 2 inches.
- Do not try to store bulbs that are bruised, cut or have green tops.
- Store indoors in a dry place away from potatoes, and cover with a kitchen towel to keep them dark.
- In general, the sweeter the onion the shorter the shelf life.
- Use those with thick necks first.
- Check regularly and use or discard any that begin to soften or rot.
- Plant near:
- Do not plant near:
Visit the Vegtables Forum at GreatLakesGardeners.com to get answers to your growing vegetables questions. To ask a new question, Register if you haven't already done so(it's free and helps protect the forum from spam), click on Start New Topic, enter your question and click on Post New Topic.
You may also appreciate these books on growing vegetable gardens.