How To Grow Onions In Your Garden
Onions are bulbous, biennial plants, and many folk have been growing onions in domestic and commerical gardens for thousands of years. Onions are versatile vegetables and have many uses, such as in salads, as seperate vegetables, or as flavouring. The onion bulb, which is comprised of thickend leaf scales, forms in the first season on a very short, almost unnoticable stem. The flower stalks appear in the second year.
Onions are sensitive to the dry length for formation of flowers, so it is important to select the right variety (early – mid-season – late). Depending on the length of day. early varieties are short day onions, mid-season varieties are medium day onions, and late varieties are long day onions. If planted out of season, onions may bolt to seed prematurely. In order for you to grow onions, prepare the garden bed in the same way as for other root crop plants (such as when growing carrots).
Onions are a good winter crop in the home garden. Prepare the bed well, sow seeds into sprinkled seed raising mix 6mm deep and gently cover the seeds. Plants will emerge within 10-14 days, but many take longer in colder weather. As with carrots, the seedlings can be thinned out to 2-3cm, then later to 7-10cm as they continue to grow.
Onions will take 24-32 weeks from seeds to harvesting, depending on the variety chosen. Bulbs are not ready to pull until the tops start to die off and fall over. After lifting the bulbs, leave them in the sun for a few days for the outside skins to dry out. Screw off the dry tops and rub off remaining roots. Store your onions in a cool dry place, and provide adequate ventilation. Wire baskets or mesh washing bags are ideal for storing onions. Just recently, I have harvested the red onions from my own garden, as you can see from the photograph. These have been well used (and enjoyed) in a number of salads and on sandwhiches of late! Now you know how to grow onions in your garden, make sure you include them on your planting calender.