Onions: Everything You Need To Know to Grow 'Em


| 10/14/2014 8:48:00 AM


Egyptian walking onion in a pot

In America, there are wild Alliums known as wild garlic or ramps. The onions we cultivate in our gardens today likely originated from a wild Asian onion, but has been grown so long, the road back to the original is lost. Two thousand years ago, there were many varieties that we would recognize today. There were round onions, white onions, red onions, flat onions, long onions, keeper onions, sweet onions, spicy onions. Onions have been important for their perceived health benefits in times gone past and proven health benefits today as well as the fabulous taste they add to an array of dishes.

Onions are easy to grow, have little to no pest problems and are a perennial to boot! Onions have shallow roots, like to be moist, but can’t stand being waterlogged. You should enrich the soil with plenty of organic matter before planting. As common sense would tell us, they also like loose soil. Organic matter helps this along. Onions can be grown in the ground or in pots. My perennial Egyptian walking onion has been growing in its pot for 8 years.

In the Midwest, seeds can be started indoors in early February and transplanted outdoors in March. Transplanting should be done 4-6 weeks before the last spring freeze for spring planting. Since onions are perennials you can also plant in the fall, October for our Zone 6/7 garden. For multiplier type onions or Egyptian walking onions, fall planting will provide a bigger harvest next spring and summer.

The more popular method of starting onions is planting “sets.”  Young onions that are put out in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked, just as the daffodils begin to fade. Bulbing onion in flower

You can place them close together and pull for scallions until the bulbing onions are 5-6 inches apart. As the bulb reaches full size, you can pull the soil away from the top of the onion to help the bulb and neck cure for harvest.



You can also plant the bottoms of store bought onions. If you get enough of the bottom, the onion will take root and give you an onion next season.





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