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How to grow onions from sets – plant in the garden or in containers!
Onions are so easy to grow! If you use a lot of onions in cooking, why not plant a few rows in your garden?
They are one of the easiest vegetables to grow and the only thing you need to do is keep the weeds under control.
Then just add regular watering and the onions will grow nice and big. Here’s how we grow enough onions here to store enough for year round eating.
How to Grow Onions
I always buy onion sets, because growing onions from seed takes much longer. You can certainly do it, but you need to sow the seeds in January and then transplant later into the garden.
Onion sets are just small onions that can be planted in the garden.
To plant, I first run a string line. This way I can try to keep my rows straight; after it is in place, I make a furrow using my shovel.
I like to add some well composted manure to the trench before I plant.
Make sure you seat the onions into the soil. Don’t just toss them into the trench – they need to be seated with the roots down and pointed end up.
I plant mine about 4 inches apart, making sure they are well seated. Then just fill in the trench and water.
I like to plant my rows fairly close together. I think planting vegetables tightly really helps to keep the weeds down.
It does make it a bit harder to get into the onion patch though . Some people like to leave a lot more room between plants than I do. It just makes for a bit more weeding.
How to Thin Onions
We can get onions planted here early in the Spring. They get planted in May or as soon as I can get into the garden.
Sometimes I can get them planted in late April. They grow all spring and summer and are harvested in mid-September.
All season long, I thin any onions growing too close together. This way, Graham gets to eat small onions all summer.
Meanwhile the remaining onions get to grow a lot bigger. When the plants are small, you can snip off a few of the green stalks and use them as green onions.
Take a stalk from several plants, not ALL of the stalks from one plant.
If you will want lots of green onions all summer long, keep planting sets every few weeks. We can grow large bulbs here; most root crops do very well in the Cariboo.
As the season goes on, you will notice that the onion tops start to turn yellow and fall over.
If you are getting into September and the tops are still green, you can speed things up by knocking all the tops down.
Sometimes, we want to get the harvest out of the ground in order to plant fall rye to build the soil through fall and winter, so we knock the tops down.
Don’t cut the onion tops off, just push the tops over. Then let them dry some more before pulling them from the ground.
When it is time for harvesting, try to do it on a sunny warm day. Pull the onions and leave them in the garden for a few hours.
If you don’t have cool overnight temperatures like we do, you can just leave the onions in the garden for a few days.
We can’t do that here, because we are concerned with even a very light frost falling on them.
The onions always get moved before nightfall, just in case.
We cure our onions by tying them in bunches and hanging them from the barn rafters. Here the onions get the benefit of fresh air and wind, but they are under cover.
This way they stay out of the sun. We leave them hanging there for a week or two.
Then, they are brought up to the house and put downstairs. We do NOT keep our onions in the Cold Room. We find they like slightly warmer temperatures and we also don’t want the smell of onions permeating the other veggies we are storing.
What you want is a place where the onions will not freeze; around 50 F is a great temperature.
You can also make a few onion braids and hang them in your kitchen. They look so pretty!
If you use onions in cooking, grow some of your own. Almost free onions are much better than having to pay for them at the grocery store!