Onions are easy to grow and tasty to eat. The bulbous root vegetable is also easy to store long-term so you can enjoy their fresh homegrown flavor all winter. Use these gardening tips and get ready to grow onions in your home garden.
Onions grow best in full sun, so be careful not to plant the them in a location which will be shaded by taller vegetable plants. Amend the garden soil with organic matter to the depth of 8 inches so the underground growing veggie will have the loose, fertile, well-draining soil it prefers.
Seeds or Seedlings
Onions grow well from seeds or seedling (also called ‘sets’), obviously the seeds will take longer to produce the edible bulb, but the results will be the same. Seeds can be started indoors, then transplanted into garden soil.
Make shallow rows in prepared garden soil between 12-18 inches apart. Sow seeds thickly in the rows and cover with ½ inch of soil. Water in well, gently so the seeds won’t be disturbed. Thin seedling out after they sprout.
Plant seedlings in the prepared rows, allowing 1 inch of space between green onions and 4 inches of space between slicing onions. Place seedling with the roots facing down, cover with ½ inch of soil and water in well.
Add a layer of mulch around the onions and keep the soil moist. Pluck weeds out of surrounding area as soon as they pop up to prevent them from robbing the soil of the onion’s needed nutrients.
To encourage more stem growth on green onions, hoe 2 inches of loose soil around the green stem to create a small hill once it reaches 4 inches in height. Do not hoe soil around the stem of cooking or slicing onions, it will cause the necks of the bulbs to rot.
Harvest green onions when the green stems reach about 6-8 in height. Scratch away the mounded soil around the stem base, grasp stem near the base and pull the green onion straight up.
Leave all other onion varieties in the garden soil until the tops fall over and no rain is predicted for at least 2 days. Grasp the stem base and pull mature onions out of the soil, but do not take them indoors (unless you plan to use a couple immediately). Lay the onions on top of the garden soil for a couple of days to dry out, then gather them up for storage preparation.
Freshly harvested garden onions need to go through one of these two drying processes before being brought indoors: Leave the onion tops intact and hang the unwashed bulbs up by tops to finish drying. Use a rubber band or twine around the green tops to bunch onions together for drying, stagger the bulb levels for better drying, then hang on a nail. Or you can cut the tops and roots off, then place the (unwashed) bulbs in a single layer on a porch table or in a box on the floor. Allow onions to dry several weeks, regardless of drying method being used, before bringing them indoors. Place a sheet of newspaper between layers of onions when storing, and keep them in a cool, dry place.
National Gardening Association
The Old Farmer’s Almanac