We grow onions. Lots of Onions. We LOVE onions! Onions are one of those things that make (nearly) any dish better. When a stir fry calls for an onion, I often toss in two.
One of the lesser known garden secrets is how awesome home grown onions are. (Step aside tomato!) They're easy to grow, they store well, they're a cooking stable, and home grown are just better. Also, onions contain B6, B1, Folic Acid and fight Free Radicals? (Hear that ladies...?)
Eating raw onion daily is even better for you, just kiss your honey first.
So how do we grow them here in Central Texas, the good ol' Zone 8B? I'm so glad you asked. Here are the best tips and tricks to get you started.
-Short to Intermediate Day Onions are better for southern states. Triggered by the lengthening
days in spring, onions begin to "bulb". Short day onions begin this process with only 10-12 hours of sun per day, and are best option for our area, but do not store as well, so eat them pretty fresh.
* 1015 Texas Supersweet (stores a bit better), Yellow Granex (Vidalia), White Granex,
and White Bermuda.
-Intermediates Onions require12-14 hours of daylight, and so begin to bulb and mature later,
but store a little better.
*Cimarron (great!) or Sweet Red are some options.
CHOOSE THE CORRECT SEASON & PLANTING METHOD
-When it comes to planting onions, here's the Golden Rule: Seeds in October, transplants in
January. Why? In order to avoid bolting (producing a flower stalk) in spring, you must prevent the onion from forming a flower "bud", of sorts, at the center prior to winter dormancy. To do this, seed must be sown with just enough time to grow as weather cools, not enough time to "bud". *Mid to late Oct is the sweet-spot for seed.
-The second method is planting transplants (seedlings) or sets in January, to bi-pass the flower
formation phase. We'll focus on transplanting for this season's post.
TRICKS OF THE TRADE FOR PLANTING ONION TRANSPLANTS OR SETS (Plant from Jan to early Feb)
ONION SETS (look like small dried onion bulbs)
-Plant in rich, loose soil at least 4" deep and 4" apart for room to bulb.
ONION TRANSPLANTS (Preferred type to grow. Look like small green onions about pencil thin in size)
-Plant in rich, loose soil at least 3/4" - 1" deep and 4" apart for room to bulb.
-If not planted immediately, lay out in a cool dry place. They can dry out a bit for even a
week or two just fine, they'll sprout right back. Don't let bulbs get wet before planting.
CARE and FEEDING
-Onions are super heavy feeders! That's a big bulb to plump up. A good trick is to give them
a boost by laying a row of organic high phosphorous (the middle number) fertilizer in a trench 2-3" below the transplant roots.
-Onions need consistent water, and a bit extra near harvesting to plump those succulent
globes. We recommend drip irrigation, it's a miracle I tell you. If drip is not available then water at the soil level in the morning. Aim for moist but not wet/soggy soil.
-Did I mention onions are heavy feeders? Keep those bulbs happy with a side dressing of hi-
Nitrogen (first number) fertilizer every month, we go for organic. Always water in fertilizers.
-Look for good green leaves, and several of them. Every leaf is a layer of onion, the bigger
the leaf the bigger the layer.
-Once onions begin to bulb they need loose soil. Tease it a bit while you weed if needed,
but don't cover with soil, leave the bulb tops exposed.
-Once the neck of the onion feels soft stop fertilizing, about a month before harvest.
HARVESTING (Check back soon!)
-Onions are ready to harvest when their tops have flopped over and die back. Dig them up
carefully to not damage them, and lay them out to dry or "cure" before storing.
-We'll follow up with more tips on harvesting and curing your onions for storage.
-Dreaming of garlic? Yeah, us too. That's a fall planter, check back for a Garlic Guide later
If you don't have an onion patch but you would love one, drop us a line! A pretty garden makes all the more reason to visit it often and check on those beauties. Schedule a virtual consultation, and we can get started! CLICK HERE TO SCHEDULE