All about Onions and How to Grow Them
Are you planning to have an additional plant in your kitchen garden? If you are, you need to consider growing onions. This particular vegetable is very useful. It is used in various cooking. Therefore, you will not need to buy onions after the harvest. Growing this vegetable can be very fun. That’s why you must grow it in your garden. And to be successful in doing it, you need to know how to plant onions.
Learn more about how to plant peanuts.
Get to Know More about Onions
Some people may think that growing onions in the garden is not easy. However, it is not that difficult if you know the steps of how to plant onions. Moreover, you can increase your chance of success in planting them if you have better understanding about this vegetable. These are some facts about onions that will help you understand more about them.
1. Onion Origin and History
The origin of onion is not clear due to the widespread of this vegetable in the ancient period. However, many scientists believed that this bulbous vegetable is originated from Central Asia, Iran, and India. It is said that the onion bulbs had been used by the Chinese since 5000 BC for flavoring their cooking.
Archeological records had proven that ancient Egyptians used onion bulbs in mummification. This vegetable was used as the symbol of eternal life by them because of its spherical shape. Moreover, ancient Romans used the onion to relieve certain illnesses. Meanwhile, the Native Americans already consumed this vegetable when the European colonists came to this continent.
2. Plant Description
Allium cepa or onion is a biennial plant which is treated as an annual plant. It is from the family of Liliaceae. The leaves of this plant are cylindrical, hollow, and fleshy. Some of them are bluish green and others are yellowish green. Moreover, they form a pseudo stem of this plant. An onion plant can grow between 15 cm and 45 cm tall.
At the base of the leaves, there is a white sheath that emerges from a basal disc with a root system under it. During the growing season, this plant stores its food under the base of the leaves. As a result, it will grow into an onion bulb.
In late fall, onion leaves dies back and it means you can harvest the onion. However, if you don’t harvest it, this plant will be in dormancy in the winter. When the spring comes, it will grow again. Then, it will be flowering. You will likely see a white flower blooms between late spring and summer. Once it is pollinated, this plant will go to seed.
3. Growing Environment
In order to have a big crop, you need to know how to plant onions in the right growing environment. You can be successful in planting them in either a container or directly to the ground as long as you provide them with the right environment. These are some of the things you need to pay attention at in preparing the planting site.
Onion plant is adaptable to various environments or conditions. Therefore, it is no wonder that it can be planted in wide range of areas. It is suitable to USDA hardiness zones 3 to 9. Therefore, if you live in one of those zones, you can start the process of how to plant onions when the time is right.
This plant requires full direct sun to grow well. Moreover, the right day length can boost the size of the bulbs. However, it can also cause the plant to flower too soon. Different varieties require different day lengths. Therefore, you need to read the tags when you buy onion sets or seeds.
There are basically three groups of onion plants based on their day length requirement. Long-day onions need at least 16 hours of day light. Meanwhile, intermediate onions need 13 hours or 14 hours of daylight. Moreover, short-day onions need 11 hours or 12 hours of daylight.
If you want to get big onion bulbs, you need to prepare the soil properly before you perform the steps of how to plant onions. First of all, you must make sure that the soil is loose enough. Hard soil will affect the growth of the bulbs. Therefore, you need to loosen the soil before planting.
In addition, you need to make sure that the soil has good drainage. Moreover, the soil must be rich in nutrients. You may need to mix your soil with compost or nitrogen rich fertilizer before planting. Another thing you need to pay attention at is the acidity of the soil. Onions grow best in soil with pH level between 6.0 and 6.8.
In order to have a nice harvest, you need to water your onions properly. It is essential to avoid too much watering. However, you must not let the soil dry either. In consequence, you must keep the soil moist. When the leaves start yellowing in the fall, you must decrease the amount of water.
4. The Best Time to Grow Onions
Onions can be planted in three different ways. Each of them require different procedures in how to plant onions.
They are tiny bulbs of onion that are grown from seeds. They are force to dormancy and will grow again immediately if you plant them properly. Moreover, it is essential for you to choose sets with half an inch in diameter. The best time to plant them is in the spring if you live in areas with colder winter. If you live in areas with milder winter, you can plant them in the fall.
They are black and small. Planting them is more challenging than planting the sets. However, you will be able to get more choices of onion varieties from seeds. But, you need to make sure that the seeds are no older than a year old if you want to gain success in planting them.
They can germinate well in temperature of 20o C. The best time to plant them is in between late winter and mid spring. If you plan to grow them in winter, you need to germinate them indoor. You will likely see the sprouted seeds in more or less a week.
Bare Root Onion Transplant
They are onion seedlings that are grown from seeds. These young plants are usually available in winter and spring. The best time to plant them is in the spring. However, you can also plant them in containers indoor in late winter.
5. Onion Bulbs: Uses and Nutritional Value
Some onion bulbs are smaller and others are bigger. It all depends on their cultivars and cultivation. Large onion can reach 10 cm in diameter. Moreover, onion bulbs are grouped into three categories, i.e. red, yellow, and white.
They are used in various ingredients of dishes. Some of them are soups, salads, and onion rings. This vegetable contains small amount of vitamins and minerals. Moreover, it also contains flavonoid.
6. Onion Varieties
There are many varieties of onion that you can plant. Each of them has different characteristics. Therefore, you need to perform different process of how to plant onions. These are some of the varieties that you can choose.
This yellow onion is very sweet and large. Moreover, it also stores well. This intermediate-day variety takes 135 days from germination to reach maturity.
This particular variety produces yellow onions. The bulbs are very sweet. Moreover, the average weight of these bulbs is 0.75 pound. If you plant it from seed, it will take 160 days to reach maturity.
This white onion variety is considered as long-day onions. It takes 90 days to reach maturity. In addition, its bulbs offer mild taste. The average weight of the bulbs is about a pound. In addition, this variety makes excellent green onions.
If you live in areas with warmer climate, you can try to plant white granex. This short-day onion only takes 80 days to reach maturity. Moreover, it hoofers you with medium to large white bulbs.
This particular onion variety needs 105 days from seed to maturity. This long-day onion offers you with red bulbs that weigh about a pound. They are crisp and sweet.
If you love salads, you need to grow salad red onion in your garden. This variety produces sweet and crispy red onion bulbs. They are perfect for salads. However, their size is generally smaller. In average, they are 2 inches in diameter. In order to harvest this short-day onion, you need to wait for 85 days.
Learn more about how to grow asparagus.
How to Plant Onions
There are several things that can affect the success of growing onions. You must not only perform the steps of how to plant onions properly. But you also need to pick the right methods for you since there are three methods that you can choose. In addition, you also need to select high-quality onion sets, seeds, or bare root onion transplants.
These are the steps of how to plant onions.
1. Planting from Onion Sets
Planting onion sets is more perfect for beginners because it is very easy. Moreover, onion sets takes shorter time to mature. Therefore, it is also perfect for you who live in colder regions. These are what you need to do in planting them.
Preparing The Planting Site
Before you plant the onion sets, it is essential for you to make sure that the soil meets the growing requirement. Therefore, before the planting time, you need to loosen the soil and mix it with compost. It is also a good idea to make a raised bed for the onions.
Before you plant the sets, add nitrogen fertilizer to the soil. Then, plant the onion sets less than an inch deep. Be sure that the pointy ends are not covered by the soil. In addition, you need to give enough space between them, between 4 to 6 inches. After that, water the soil until it is moist but not soggy.
If you want to get sweet onions, you need to water the plants more. Onions need an inch of water per week. In addition, you need to water them deeply, about 6 inches deep. Moreover, you need to fertilize the soil using all-purpose fertilizer about a month after planting.
When the bulbs start to grow, you will see their upper parts visible. At this stage, you must not cover the visible bulbs with soil.
2. Planting from Onion Seeds
Growing onion from seeds can be a bit complicated. Moreover, it is also more challenging. Therefore, it is more perfect for you who have better skill in gardening. In addition, it also takes more time. Therefore, it is more suitable for you who live in warmer areas. These are what you must do in planting onion seeds.
To sow the seeds, you need a shallow plastic lidded container and seed starting mix. Moreover, you need to make some holes on the bottom of the container for drainage. You also need to make 2 ventilation holes on the lid.
Fill the container with the seed starting mix up to 3 inches deep. Place the seeds on its surface with half an inch space between them. After that, sprinkle them with the starting mix and mist the medium. Place the container outdoor.
The transplanting process can be started once you can work the soil in spring. Work the soil so that it is loose and rich in nutrients. After that, you can transplant the seedlings. You must be careful in planting them so that their roots are not damaged. Plant them between 4 to 6 inches apart.
The caring process of the seedlings is almost similar to the caring for the onion plants from sets.
3. Planting from Bare Root Transplants
If you don’t have time to plant onions from seeds, you can choose planting them from bare root transplants. The step of panting them is similar to the transplanting step in planting onion seeds.
You can harvest your onions when the leaves start yellowing. To help the onions ripe faster, you need to bend the tops. You also need to loosen the soil so that the onions can dry quickly. Then, pull out the plants when the onions are brown.
All in all, the steps of how to plant onions are not that difficult to do. To ensure success in planting onions, you can choose to plant the sets. If you want to get onion seeds without buying them, you can plant sprouted onions. Planting them will not give you any harvest. But, it will give you onion flowers that later on will go to seed.
Learn more about how to plant peppers.