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Garden Help/HowTo

Onion Guide

Onions are an edible bulb. They are members of the allium family along with chives, garlic, leeks, shallots and ornamental alliums. Onion bulbs are round or oblong and are composed of concentric layers. They can either have a pungent smell or be quite sweet, depending on the variety.

Soil Preparation:

  • Full sun.
  • Well-drained soil.
  • Till soil and remove any lumps, stones or roots.
  • Soil pH of 5.5 to 6.5 recommended.

Planting:

  • Place plant in the garden just slightly higher than the surrounding soil.
  • Space plants 2 to 3 inches apart in rows that are 12-18 inches apart.

Watering:

  • Soil should be kept evenly moist until plants start to mature.
  • Soil can be allowed to dry when leaves start to yellow and droop.

Maintenance:

  • Keep garden clean of debris to avoid disease.
  • Remove any diseased plants immediately.
  • Thin plants early to give bulbs room to mature.
  • Bend, but do not break, stalks 2 to 3 weeks before harvest time to hasten bulb development.
  • Snip onion leaves throughout the season to use for flavoring.
  • Lift dry onion bulbs when they are 3 to 5 inches in diameter after the leaves have dried. If you allow lifted onions to cure in the garden, make sure you lift the root and all from the ground or they could start growing again and turn soft and watery.

Supplies Needed:

  • Garden Trowel
  • Garden Hose or Watering Can
  • Potting Soil
  • Shovel
  • Onion Plants

Other Information:

Day Length -

Some onions are sensitive to day length, while other can grow regardless of the day length (how much daylight there is when onions stop forming).

Short Day Onions (10 to 12 hours) - Red Burgundy

Long Day Onions (14 to 16 hours) - Walla Walla

Day Neutral - Candy

Container Gardening -

To grow bulb onions in a container, make sure to use a container that is at least 8 to 10 inches deep.

History -

Although it is believed that onions originated in Asia, it is likely they have been growing wildly on every continent for 5000 years or more. It is likely that onions were one of the earliest cultivated crops because they were less perishable than other foods at the time.

Onions were not just a source of food, however. In Egypt, onions were worshipped - they symbolized eternity because of the circle within a circle anatomy. They were also used frequently as medicine. In Ancient Greece, the athletes in the Olympic Games would consume pounds of onions, drink onion juice and rub onions all over their bodies.

Did You Know?....

Onions that mature in cool weather tend to be sweeter, while those maturing in hot weather are stronger flavored.

If you want to store onions over the winter, you can cure them by hanging them in a well-aired place. Mesh bags or strings can be used to group and hang onions and they should hang for about 3 to 4 weeks.



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