Here's How to Grow Your Very Own Onions This Spring
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From caramelized onion dip to French onion chicken casserole to slices of fresh onions on our burgers, we love these crispy, crunchy, silky vegetables in every way you can prepare them! Besides picking them up at the grocery store and farmer’s market, you can grow them in your own vegetable garden. “There are several kinds of onions you can grow,” says Pam Farley, garden blogger at Brownthumbmama.com and author of The First Time Gardener: Container Food Gardening. “They fall into two main types: Scallions, also called green onions, and bulbing onions, which form the round bulb you eat. It’s really your preference.”
Just like growing tomatoes, onions are planted in early spring when the frost has passed. However, if you plan to grow bulbing onions, you need to make sure you buy the correct type of onion for your region. There are short-day, long-day and intermediate (also called day-neutral) types. Short-day onions, like Southern Belle and Cipollini are typically grown in the South, while long-day onions, like Yellow Sweet Spanish and Walla Walla, along with intermediate types, like Red Amposta, are grown in the North and middle of the country. If you grow the wrong kind, your bulbs will not develop, says Farley. If you’re not sure what type to choose, check with your local university coop extension service (find yours here) for guidance.
Once you've decided which onions are right for your garden, follow our tips on how to grow onions, including growing onions from seed or food scraps!
What type of onions should I grow?
Definitely the easiest type of onions to grow are scallions (Allium fistulosum), also called green onions, says Farley. They also are sometimes called bunching onions. They’re ready to harvest in about 60 to 85 days. Bulbing onions (Allium cepa) require a bit more effort and take about 100 days or more until they’re ready to harvest.
How do I plant green onions?
Plant green onion seeds directly into garden beds in early spring, about ¼ to ½-inch deep in rows a few inches apart. Choose a spot in full sun, which is about 6 or more hours of direct sunlight. They need well-draining soil, and they also grow well in containers, says Farley. Water regularly when the soil feels slightly dry, and keep the area weeded because they don’t compete well with other plants.
How do I plant bulbing onions?
Although you can grow bulbing onions from seed, it’s better to plant onion sets, which are baby onions to help jumpstart the process. Plant in early spring as soon as the ground can be worked. When planting the bulbs, place them pointy-side in a hole about an inch or two deep, then tamp down soil on top. Sprinkle on some compost, and give them some liquid fertilizer, such as fish emulsion, every few weeks during the growing season. Water when the top inch of soil feels dry.
When are onions ready to harvest?
You can start harvesting the leaves of green onions when plants are about 6 inches tall or as wide as a pencil, or harvest the entire green onion in about 60 to 80 days. Don’t pull them up; use a hand trowel to lift up and underneath each plant.
When the foliage of bulbing onions start to fall over, stop watering them. Once the tops have yellowed and browned, lift up the entire bulb by working a garden fork or trowel around and underneath them. Brush off most of the dirt, lay them in the sun for a up to a week to cure, trim off the green and roots, and store your onions a cool, dark place, says Farley.
Can you grow onions from food scraps?
Yes, you can regrow green onions! Use the green part in your favorite recipes (like as a topping for Ree Drummond's twice-baked potatoes), but save the white section. Then put the root end in a bowl of water, changing the water every few days. When they’ve sprouted, plant in your garden, trimming off the green sprouts to use whenever they appear, says Farley.
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