I just love onions! Yes, not everybody does, in fact some people can’t stand them! I’ll eat them raw, cooked, fermented or anyway they can be made.
The only thing I don’t care too much about is how they burn my eyes when cutting them, but there are methods to reduce that.
If you’re like me and love onions then you probably want to grow them. The good news is they are easy and don’t take much space to grow.
The question then is, do I grow my onions from sets or seeds?
Growing onions seeds
As a young child before I understood how nature worked, I didn’t realize onions even had seeds since I had only seen the sets that you can get at any hardware store in the spring. Then one day I saw a packet of onion seeds and was like, whoa, onion seeds! Shouldn’t have been a mind blowing moment but, it was. At that moment I vowed to try and grow them from seed one day.
Years later my vow came to fruition and I came upon some onion seeds to germinate myself.
Of course, I didn’t have any experience with germinating them so I just sprinkled them into the bed I prepared for them. Needless to say my success rate was not great. In the end I think I only got a few onions to germinate and one or two actually made it to maturity. They did not grow very big either.
Some things I learned from this experiment:
1. Make sure you have seeds of onions that will grow well in your region. Just like anything, certain plants grow better in certain regions. I had seeds that were sent to me in a package and were not best for my area. Now, If I had done a better job of preparing them and germinating correctly I would have had a better success rate.
2. Plant them at the appropriate time. When I planted my seeds, it was a little too late to expect a good rate of success. But this is true for any vegetable, timing is very important, not necessarily critical but important to get a good harvest. Seeds take time to germinate and onion seeds seem to take a little more time to germinate and don’t grow extremely fast. So if you want to have transplants for the spring you will want to start your seeds at least 20 days before it’s time to set them out in the garden.
3. Start the seeds in a green house or indoors if possible, in seed trays. This is very important because you can control the soil type and soil temp. Onion seeds need a loose soil to germinate and the temperature needs to be at least 50 degrees fahrenheit. I like to use single cell seed trays but an open tray that you sprinkle the seeds in will work also. There is just more work when it comes to seperating them to plant in the ground.
The next time I germinated onion seeds using the methods above, my success rate was much better and was able to harvest more onions.
Growing onions sets
Growing onions from sets is very easy and the preferred method for most people.
Even though I like growing plants from seeds, I actually prefer to grow onions from sets because of the ease, and since my space is limited for seed starting I can save space by buying sets and planting straight into the garden.
Normally the sets that can be bought at you’re local stores are ones that grow well in your area. In my case, that leaves two or three varieties but that’s fine for me, I mainly just want yellow onions that are fairly mild and can be used in pretty much any recipe.
The greatest thing about sets is you can plant them straight into the garden or container. No waiting!
Depending on what you want to get from them will determine how far apart you should plant them. I like to plant mine close together and as they get bigger thin them out to about three inches apart and use the ones I pulled as green onions.
Harvesting and preserving
In general onions are easy to grow and require little maintenance once planted in the ground. When they are ready to harvest the best thing to do is pull them and lay them right where they were pulled and leave there for a day or two while they dry. Once they have dried cut the tops off and trim the roots and place them in a mesh bag which can be purchased on amazon or use a recycled one. I bought some reusable cotton bags from Amazon with drawstrings. They work great! Onions don’t require much to last a long time if they are harvested and stored correctly. Hang them in an area that it is climate controlled. Don’t place them next to potatoes or they will start to rot.
If you see them sprouting use them quickly or what I like to do is ferment them to use as a snack or garnish on dishes.
Onions are great for your health, they suck toxins out of your body and are high in vitamin c, folic acid, contain calcium, iron and are a good source of dietary fiber. Fermenting also adds to the many benefits of onions by adding good bacteria that helps your digestive system break down food. Why would anyone not want to eat onions?!
Seeds or sets?
No matter what method of growing onions is used you can have success of a large harvest of onions that can last till next growing season.
Try both methods if you are able to. Even though I prefer sets, I will still germinate seeds sometimes, especially when I want to try a different variety to see how I like them.
Growing onions seeds or growing onions sets is easy and takes little space. I encourage you to grow your own and let me know what recipes you like to use onions in. I can always use more ways to use onions!