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Onion ; correct planting, harvesting and storing

Updated on September 15, 2016

Onion sets

Sets are small dry onion bulbs grown the previous year.
Sets are small dry onion bulbs grown the previous year. | Source

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Introduction

Onions are cool season vegetable that are grown for the flavor they add to other foods. Onions begin to form bulbs based on the day link. Onions can start from seeds, sets or plant transplants. Onions seeds can be sown indoors. In most areas you will need to start your seedlings indoor. Also seeds can be sown directly into the garden, covered with 4 inches of soil and should sprout in between 7 to 10 days. You can pull and utilize the onions for salad or eaten fresh in 8 to 10 weeks if you need to utilize before fully mature. Most gardeners, however, like to grow onion bulbs as large as possible. For this, you need to thin to 2 to 3 inches apart so that they will have adequate space into enlarge to big bulbs. Onion seeds is the least recommended way to start onions, while the most recommended way to start onions is by transplanting (onion plants).

Onion weed seed pod

Onions can be started from seeds which are planted in seed beds before transplanting.
Onions can be started from seeds which are planted in seed beds before transplanting. | Source

Onion sets

Sets are small dry onion bulbs grown the previous year. They are the easiest for most gardeners to grow. Buy a bag of set onions. Push them into dump soil just until the top is showing and the onion quickly starts growing. They are frequently sold just as yellow, white and red onions without a variety name. If you want to know the variety of onion you are growing then do not use sets. Larger sets are best used as grain onions while smaller sets are left in the ground to form bulbs.

Onion plant from lalbagh

Onions are most recommended to be started from onion plants. You will know the variety you are planting.
Onions are most recommended to be started from onion plants. You will know the variety you are planting. | Source

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Onion plants

This is the recommended growing onion for the first time. They are produced from seed in the same year they are sold. They are sold in seed catalogs, garden centers or the local hardware shop. Plant the plant onions one inch deep and no deeper because this would inhibit their ability to bulb. When you receive your onion transplants, they are live and should be planted as soon as possible. If you are unable to plant immediately, remove the onion plants from the box and spread them out in a cool dry area. The roots and the tops may begin to dry out but they can live for two to three weeks off the bulbs. The first thing that the onions will do after planting will be to shoot new roots.

Red onion plant

Planting your onions more than 1 inch deep hinders production of large bulbs.
Planting your onions more than 1 inch deep hinders production of large bulbs. | Source

Choosing the right onion to plant based on your location

Choosing the right onion to plant in your location is done by choosing among the three types of onions available; short day onions, long day and intermediate day onions. The short day onions form bulbs within 10 to 12 hours of day light. Intermediate or day neutral onions form bulbs in 12 to 14 hours of day light. They produce nice bulbs in most areas. The long day onions form bulbs in 14 to 16 hours of day light. Flavor and pungency are factors in selecting variety. Sweet white onions are long day onions while the best strong flavored yellow onions are intermediate or short day onions. Slanted locations with full sun where the onions are not shaded by plants are ideal. The soil needs to be well drained, loose and rich in nitrogen and compact soils will affect your bulb development. You want nice loose , rich soil. Till in aged manure, compost or fertilized soil before planting. Onions are heavy feeders and need constant nourishment to produce the biggest of bulbs.

At the time of planting you can mix some fertilizers too and side dress every few weeks until the bulbing process begins. Onion seeds are short lived and should be planted as soon as is possible. Plant your seeds indoors. Start with fresh seeds each year, about six weeks before transplanting. The temperature should not go below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Plant one inch deep for starters and transplants. 4 to 5 inches between each plant. And about 12 inches separating each row. Do not plant sets or transplants too deep or they will not make large bulbs.

Onion crop, broom, beds

Onion plants will be 3 to 4 inches apart while there should be a pathway of about 12 inches wide between beds..
Onion plants will be 3 to 4 inches apart while there should be a pathway of about 12 inches wide between beds.. | Source

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Onion fertilization and growth tips

Onions require high source of nitrogen. For organic growing, use a rich compost high in nitrogen. For non-organic way use ammonium sulphate or ammonium nitrate fertilizer. It should be applied about three weeks after planting and then continue with application within 2 to 3 weeks. Once the necks start to feel soft, do not apply any more fertilizer. This is about 4 weeks before harvest. For weed control, you need to cultivate, but when cultivating be careful not to damage the onion bulbs.

A bloomed onion

Flowering of onions is due to temperature variation. Up-root flowering onions and utilize first because there is no remedy for flowering.
Flowering of onions is due to temperature variation. Up-root flowering onions and utilize first because there is no remedy for flowering. | Source

What causes bulb onion to flower or bolt?

Temperature fluctuation causes flower stalks to develop in onions. If the onion is exposed to warm temperatures then cold and then warm again, it will bolt. Onions take two years to go from seed to seed. Alternating temperatures causes onion bulbs to prematurely bolt. It is cheated that it has completed two life cycles. Flowering can be prevented by planting the right variety at the right time. As soon as onion bulbs bolt, just uproot it and utilize immediately because we do not have a remedy for flowering. As far as harvesting and storage goes, onions are fully mature when their tops have fallen over. Pull from the ground and allow the onions to dry. Clip the roots, cut back the top to about one inch. Keep the onions in a cool dry area and they must be separated from each other. Remember to use bolted onions first because they don't last long in store. The sweeter the onions the higher the water content and shorter storage life. The more pungent onions are the longer their storage life.

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