How to Plant Onions: Essential Tips to Follow

How to Plant Onions
Photo by Thomas Martinsen

Onions are one of the essential ingredients for cooking. They have a mild, sweet flavor and are easy to grow. If you’re a garden enthusiast, this article is for you.

We have discussed how to plant onions from seed to harvest. You will learn about onion varieties, planting methods, growing tips, harvesting methods, and storage.

How to Plant Onions

Onion seeds come in many different sizes and shapes. Some are round, while others are long and skinny. The size of the onion seed determines the size of your onion bulb. Smaller seeds produce smaller bulbs; larger seeds yield bigger ones.

When choosing an onion variety, look at its shape, color, and size. Choose a variety that has a good balance between these traits. Also, consider the maturity of the seed. Seeds that mature later tend to be less vigorous than those that mature early.

Location

We can start onion plants indoors or directly in the ground. In either case, it’s best to start with small amounts of soil. If you don’t get enough sun, you won’t end up with too many leaves on your onion plant.

It’s also essential to choose a location where you’ll get plenty of sunlight. If you live in a cold climate, you may want to start your onions outside. But make sure they have protection from wind and rain.

If you decide to start your onions outdoors, you should prepare them first. Remove any weeds, debris, and old mulch. Then add compost, manure, or other organic material to improve drainage. Finally, apply a layer of fertilizer around the roots.

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If you plan to transplant your onions into the ground, dig holes twice as deep as the root ball. Add some compost and then place the onion in the hole.

Loosen the dirt around the plant base so that water drains freely. Water thoroughly until all the moisture runs out of the bottom of the pot.

Now cover the top of the onion with soil. Firm the soil down gently, and don’t pack it tightly. Place the onion in a sunny spot and keep it watered regularly. Your onions will begin to sprout within two weeks.

Once their tops appear above the soil line, remove the covering and continue watering. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Check the onions every few days. As soon as the leaves turn yellow, pull them out of the ground.

Storage

You can now let the onions sit in a warm, dry area for several weeks before planting them. During this time, the onions will cure and harden off.

Afterward, plant them in the ground. Space each onion 4 inches apart, and ensure space between the rows. This shouldn’t be hard since we have discussed how to plant onions above.

You can also start onions indoors by placing them in individual containers filled with peat moss. Cover the pots with clear plastic wrap and set them in a warm room. Check the pots daily and give them regular doses of water.

When the tops of the onions reach 1 inch tall, cut back the foliage. Now you can leave the onions alone for another month or two.

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At this point, you can move the plants to a greenhouse or grow them in a cool, dark basement. You can expect to harvest your onions when they’re ready. They should be firm and about 2 inches wide.

Growing Tips: How To Grow Onions

Growing onions requires patience and attention. However, once you learn to care for your crop correctly, you’ll reap great rewards. Here are some tips to help you get the most from your efforts.

Start With Quality Seed

The quality of the seed you use has a big impact on the success of your crop. Start with high-quality seeds. Look for those labeled “heirloom.”

These varieties tend to produce better crops than hybrids do. Also, look for seeds that come from local sources. Local farmers often know which varieties work well in their particular region.

Choose Good Soil

Before you sow your seeds, check the pH level of the soil. A good range is 6.0 to 7.5. If the soil is too acidic (below 5.5), it may not support healthy growth. If it’s too alkaline (above 8.0), it may cause poor germination rates and low yields.

To test the pH, take a soil sample and dip a litmus paper strip in it. The strip’s color will change depending on the amount of acidity or alkalinity present.

Sow Seeds at Proper Altitude

Seeds need light to germinate, but they don’t like direct sunlight. Instead, provide indirect light by using shade cloths or other shading devices.

When growing onions outdoors, choose an area where the sun doesn’t shine directly onto the soil. Indoors, place the lights so that they cast shadows on the soil.

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Keep the Temperature Moderate

As temperatures rise during the summer months, onions become prone to disease. Try to maintain a temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit. This helps prevent diseases that thrive in warmer weather.

Water Often

Onion plants need ample amounts of moisture throughout the season. Watering the soil around the roots encourages root development. It also prevents wilting. Also, wet soil holds nutrients better than dry soil does.

Fertilize Often

Onion plants gain from fertilizing often. Fertilizer promotes strong, healthy growth. It also improves the flavor of your onions. Apply fertilizer according to label instructions.

Harvest Onions As Soon as Possible

If you want to enjoy fresh onions right away, plant them early in spring. Otherwise, wait until late fall or winter to harvest.

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