Guide to Growing Onions From Seeds, Sets and Transplants
Raw or cooked, dried or fresh, onions are an essential part of a variety of salads, soups and casseroles. They are easy to grow, and a great plant to plant in a corner in your garden.
Types Of Onions To Plant:
There are many varieties, shapes, colors, sizes of onions. The come in white, yellow or Red bulbs. And there size range from the smallest pickling onions to the big ones like Spanish cultivars.
Most types of onions as when they are still young, like scallions. But there is also the perennial bunching varieties, like Allium fistulosum that produce excellent scallions and almost insect and disease proof. Each bulb can multiply to a cluster of bulbs, so that in every harvest you can have new bulbs to replant again for a constant supply on onions.
Egyptian walking onion or top onion are a type of onions that produce a cluster of bulbs at the end of a long stem with clusters frequently forming on top of one another. And it also has a bulb buried underground but it tastes pungent.
3 Different Ways To Plant Onions:
Onions can be grown from transplants, sets and seeds.
Transplants: are seedlings started in the current growing season and are sold in batches. They are available in nurseries or by mail order. Usually they form bulbs over a short period of time (less than 65 days), but can contract disease easily.
Sets: are young bulbs grown the previous year. They are easy to plant, the fastest to mature, and the least susceptible to diseases, but they are prone to growing a flower stalk prematurely (Bolting) then seeds or transplants.
Seeds: the challenging thing about starting onions from seeds is that your crop will take a long time to grow (up to 4 months to mature), and gardeners in cold areas need to start there seeds indoors.
How To Plant Onions:
Always check the recommended latitudes before you bay your seeds, because the day length can effect how and when onions will form bulbs.
Onions like 'Red Hamburger' form bulbs as soon as the days reach 10 to 12 hours of daylight, they are suitable for southern latitudes.
Onions like 'Southport Red Globe' and 'Sweet Sandwich', need to have 13 to 16 hours of daylight to form bulbs, they are suitable for northern latitudes.
Onions like cool weather in the start of there growth, so planting them in the spring is preferred. Except in areas with mild-winters, where onions are grown in fall as a winter crop. In general onions grow tops in cool weather and form the bulbs in warm weather.
Plant your onion seeds 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost, or plant theme earlier indoors, or plant in a cold frame. If you plant the seedlings indoors you'll have to harden theme when they grow 2 to 3 inches tall. By exposing them to above-freezing temperatures.
If you plant outdoors, sow your seeds in rows about 1/2 inches deep, and 1 inches apart. Thin the seedling in four weeks to six inches apart.
If you plant transplants or sets, then put them 2 inches deep and 4 to 6 inches apart. 1 pound of sets can plant about 50 feet of land.
Growing Onions Tips and Tricks:
In general onions grow better in you keep them weeded, to weed them use a sharp hoe to cut the weeds, because digging or pulling the weeds can damage the roots. Once the soil are warm put mulch around the plant to discourage the weeds from growing, and to help the soil hold moister.
Dry conditions may cause onion bulbs to split, so adequate watering are necessary. Provide at least 1 inches of water every week, transplants require more water than sets do.
Unfortunately onions don't compete well with weeds, so it's important that you water the roots. To water onions efficiently use 'soaker hoses'. Or open a small trench between the rows and fill them with water. This will keep the roots supplied with enough water, and keep most of the soil surface dry, inhibiting the seeds from competing for water.
With onions you can generally expect to have a disease and insect free crop. But one pest you'll have to look out for is onion maggots, they are 1/3 inches long white legless larvae. They travel in line from one bulb to another, and can burrow up to feed on the onion stems.
To reduce the potential damage to your crop, when planting scatter the onions throughout your garden.
When And How To Harvest Onions:
Once onion tops Turn yellow then it's time for harvest. First use a Rake to bend the stems horizontally, this will stop the sap from flowing up to the stem, diverting the plant energy to the bulb.
A day or two later, when the tops start turning brown, pull the bulbs and leave them to dry in the sun.
When the skin of the onions are thoroughly dry, wipe any soil still clinging to the onion, and remove the tops. Then store them in a cool dry place. Dried onion bulbs can keep from 4 months up to a year.
Category: Organic Gardening Tips