Onion 101

onion Okay! So I decided to get off of my herb kick and focus on vegetables which I may very well be transplanting. I hope to get through this list before March so that I (and you) can buy our seeds and start them indoors.

I know onions make most of us cry, but there is nothing better than the smell of onions gently frying in butter. Starting any recipe off with onions in butter pretty much guarantees success.

And so I hope to have lots of onions (and leeks) throughout the summer, and enough to harvest at the end of their growing season to last for the YEAR!

So here we go!

Onions are a very hard plant that can withstand frost and therefore can be planted as soon as the earth is workable in the spring. You can either grow them yourself indoors and transplant them, or buy seedlings and transplant them. You can also start them from seed in the garden, but in that case you might want to wait for it to be a bit warmer.

I hope to start mine indoors. And if I don’t have enough space, then I will buy the rest as seedlings.

You can either plant them individually, or plant them in groups.

Growing them individually, they would each get their own cell (in a starting tray) and then you would transplant them 3-4 inches apart in row, and leave 6-10 inches between the rows. Or you could plant 3-4 seeds per tray, and transplant them about 4-6 inches apart in row.

The more you plant together, the less space they have to grow, the smaller they will be. But what you can do is pick out 2 earlier on in the season (as green onions) and leave the other 1 or 2 in the ground to develop into big mama onions!

Onions don’t have very strong roots and so it is a good idea to have loose, fertilized soil to plant them in.

As they are delicate when they are young, it is also necessary to hoe and cultivate regularly to prevent competition from weeds. (Another good reason to transplant)

As I said, you can begin harvesting early on when the onions look like green onions you would buy from the store. For onions that you would like to store throughout the winter, you will need to cure them. And you might as well wait for them to get as big as they can. You will want to get them out of the ground when their tops start to yellow and fall to the side.

Harvest all your onions at this point. For shorter term storage, let them air dry for a few days in the sun. Remove the any dirt and let them sit out in the open air (well ventilated area protected from rain) for 2-3 weeks. Then cut off the tops and let the cuts seal (2-3 days). Afterwards store them in a cool dry place.

For longer term storage: again let them lay in a well ventilated area for 2-3 weeks until skin becomes crispy. Then you could rub off the roots and braid them together with their tops. You can them hang them in a cool dry place (50-60F) and they will keep for 6-8 months!

Et voila! You have onions.

Leeks are pretty much the same story. A few differences. I will mention them in the next post.

Happy Planting!

(Plant onions with lettuce, peppers, spinach, strawberry or tomatoes. Do not plant near beans, asparagus, peas, or sage)

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