The Onion Saga, Part 2

Here’s Part 1 from the spring. The Onion Saga, Part 1

I am thrilled to say this summer story has a very happy ending! Nearly everything grew big and happy! I have tried to grown onions on 4 separate seasons and have never had any onions that were remotely adequate size. This year I found the sweet spot! Here’s a little about what I learned:

Why I grow it:

Onions are a staple if you like to cook. They go in so many different dishes. I would say I go through at least 5-8 onions a month. Not to mention Washington is known for their Walla Walla gargantuan sweet onions. In the past, I have not had much luck growing them to adequate size and have become determined to change that. Typically they would bolt before reaching full maturity and I’d be left with half grown onions that never fitted my needs. On the left is what I’ve gotten in the past. On the right is what most of them look like this year. IMG_2392

Here’s what I did this year:

How to grow it:

  1. Get starts from your local fancy nursery in March. Make sure the onions you are purchasing were locally grown. Local onions will do better in your garden because they were started in a similar climate. Do Not get the little bulbs. They don’t work. They will bolt and you will end up with a bunch of little salad onions. Starts come dried in little bundles that look like this:
  2. Add bone meal to the soil just like you would for flower bulbs. This will provide all the fertilizing needed to keep them growing healthy all season.
  3. Plant 3-4 inches apart in soil with good drainage.
  4. Full sun and consistent water during the hot summer is key. Although onions don’t have much foliage, they love the sun. This year I set up soaker hoses throughout my veggie garden in late June. They run on a timer that waters most everything for about 10 minutes in the evening. The onions seem to really like this. Once I set these up, they really started getting big!IMG_2393
  5. Keep the area around the onion clear. Especially when they are small and trying to get established. Onions do not like competing with weeds and other vagrants who try to take purchase in our dirt! IMG_2394
  6. Shoulders are good. The shoulders or sometimes ½ or more of the actual onion will be visible above ground. This is a good thing. It will help with the development of the bulb.

How to harvest it:

Harvest in August when the foliage browns or falls over. Pull them out of the ground and let them dry for about 3 days. If you’re not using them in the next couple of weeks, store them in a root cellar or the garage.

Here is the first batch out of the ground!

IMG_2387

 

Anyone else out there love growing onions? How do your  onions grow?

Disclaimer: This is based simply on what I’ve learned from research and experience in my own garden. I do not consider myself an expert by any means. My garden is in the Pacific Northwest and, due to climate, may be very different from how you grow yours.

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