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How To Grow Onions

Growing Onions In Your Backyard or Garden

Soil Conditions

red onionsThe soil for onion sets should be well drained and firm. Onion sets should be planted in early spring, before the last frost date, usually in March or April. The onions need cooler temperatures at the beginning of their growing cycle and will not be harmed by frost.


Grasping the bulb by the pointed end, push it into the prepared soil roots down, until its full length is covered. The soil should just cover the tops of the sets, but plant them at least an inch under the soil. Planting them a little too deeply will not harm them. Allow at least 3 inches around all sides of each bulb. Firm the soil around each set after planting.


If birds become a problem, you may need to protect your onions with netting. If they are heaved from the ground by frost, push them back into the soil as soon as possible. Weed your plot regularly.

Onion sets should produce a profusion of green top growth before they begin to produce bulbs. The more profuse the top growth, the bigger the final neon bulb will be. It is the to growth that produces the energy and food needed for the plant to later create the bulb. Once the length of day and temperature reach a certain point, the plants will begin to produce onion bulbs whether or not they have had time to produce enough leaves. Those bulbs will be smaller as a result. So, plant earlier rather than later unless you wish to stagger your harvest. As the bulbs grow, loosen the dirt around the sides to encourage them to expand.


Onions should be harvested in August and September. When your onion bulbs are ready for harvesting the leaves at the top will bend over. If they don't, bend them over yourself and leave them in the ground for another two weeks. When harvesting lift the bulbs gently with a garden fork and spread them out to dry in the sun for 2-4 weeks. Turn them frequently, so they dry evenly.


Store onions in a cool well-ventilated place. A basement or garage is ideal. Braid the dried leaves to form thick lengths from which individual onions can be cut as needed and hang them up, or store them loose in trays with holes or slats. Another popular method is to store them in mesh or net bags. Your onions should keep well into the spring, just in time to plant next year's crop.

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