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Onions are one of those plants that are planted during the early spring and harvested during the midsummer.
So whether you start your onions from seed or sets, there are some tips that you need to know which will help you to have a successful planting and growing experience.
So if you keep reading, you will get all the details in this article.
Tips For Planting & Growing Onions
Planting and growing onions can be easy if you know the basic tips on how to start the processes. Below are the best tips that guide you on how to plant and grow your onion.
1. Choose A Location
The first thing that you must do when you want to grow your onion is by choosing a location. Growing an onion requires a place or a region where there is full sunlight exposure and where other plants wouldn’t be shaded.
This is because the amount of energy that your onion gets from the sunlight determines how much it will yield at the end of the day. Depending on your location, three different varieties of onion can yield a productive outcome. They are as follows:
A. Short-Day Onions
This variety of onions begins bulbing when the length of the day is 10-12 hours. It grows best in the Southern States Including the low desert of Arizona.
B. Intermediate-Day Onions
Onions under this category usually begin bulbing when the day length is 12-14 hours and are mostly grown in the middle regions of the United States.
C. Long-Day Onions
This variety of onion starts bulbing when the day’s length is 14-16 hours and it usually grows best in the Northern States.
2. Plant Onion Seeds Or Sets
If it is your first time planting an onion in your garden and you are contemplating on which type of seeding to go for.
Onion sets are those small onion bulbs that have been grown from seed, dried, and packaged to plant in the upcoming planting season. Though, it is good and sounds less stressful but still, it is preferable to grow your onion from seed instead of sets.
So, if you wish to grow onions from seed, then you should start your indoor planting in mid to late January. You should start sowing your onion seeds in the ground or containers. Once the onions have grown several inches, do well to separate and plant them in the garden.
3. When To Plant Onions
The best time to plant your onion is during the spring/summer. All you have to do is to start your onion seeds indoors for about 6 weeks before you can transplant them to the ground, especially when you notice that the soil is at least 50°F.
They will remain dormant until the temperatures and soil warm again in early spring, and onions come back to life. If you choose to plant your onion sets outdoors, then you will wait till late March or April when temperatures are no longer likely to dip below 28°F (-2°C).
Just bear that a fall-planted crop of onions needs at least 4 to 6 weeks of warm temperatures to become established in the ground.
4. How To Plant Onions
Onion plants are heavy feeders that require constant nourishment in order to produce big bulbs. While planting, add nitrogen fertilizer. You should also do the following:
A. Bury onion sets 2 to 6 inches apart, gently pressing them 1 to 2 inches deep into loose soil.
B. Space the transplanting between 4 to 5 inches apart and rows as 12 to 18 inches apart.
C. Set the bulbs with the point end up but ensure that you don’t bury them more than 2 inches under the soil to avoid affecting the bulb development.
D. Mulch with a straw between rows to help retain moisture and stifle weeds.
5. Growing Process
After successfully planting your onion, you need to follow up on its growing process. Below are the things that must be done to ensure successful productivity. They include:
A. Firstly, you have to ensure that the immature bulbs stay covered with light mulch to protect them, retain moisture, suppress weeds, and allow air circulation.
B. Avoid covering the emerging onions.
C. You need to fertilize every few weeks with nitrogen to get big bulbs. You must stop fertilizing when the onions push the soil away, and the bulbing process has started.
D. Do not put the soil back around the onions since the bulb needs to emerge above the soil.
E. Generally, if light mulch is used, onion plants do not need constant watering. About 1 inch of water per square foot per week, including rainwater is enough to finish the process.
6. Adequate Water Supply
After you must have done the necessary things that will aid the onion to grow healthy. You need to understand the best way to water the plant and avoid overwatering.
A. After planting, ensure that you water the onions well.
B. You must water deeply after each application of fertilizer.
C. When fertilizing the onion plant, you are required to water the onions once the top inch dries up.
D. If you notice any yellow-tinged leaves, it is a clear sign that you are overwatering the plant so ensure that you cut it off for some time.
E. Also, when the onion surface begins to fall over, you must stop watering.
7. Pests & Diseases
Just like every plant, the onion plant tends to go through the phase of being infested with pests and diseases which includes
If you notice any sign of thrips on your onion plant, you can control it by taking a dark piece of paper into the garden and knocking the onion tops against it.
You can also treat this pest by using insecticidal soap to kill them. Read through the package directions and spray the plants twice, which are three days apart, and you will start noticing the absence of them in your garden.
To prevent future infestations, consider using row covers when planting your onion.
B. Onion Maggots
You need to cover your emerging onion crop with fine mesh netting or row covers. You can seal it by mounding the soil around the edges.
Since the onion maggot fly likes to lay its eggs at the base of plants, the netting should prevent that. You should also keep mulch away because the insects like decaying organic matter, and make sure you completely harvest your onions as the season progresses.
Most importantly, onion maggots are usually a problem in very rainy periods, so these precautions may be unnecessary if you have a dry season.
C. White Rot
This disease usually starts with infected plant material. So, you need to avoid any transplants grown in soil-based compost. Afterwards, stick to starting from onion seeds, onion sets and bulbs bought from inspected producers.
Dig up the crop and dispose of it in the trash and avoid growing onions in the same location in future seasons, as they will remain infected for many years.
7. Practice The Planting Of Companion Plants
Planting crops that are compatible with onions will go a long way in preventing future infestation of pests and diseases.
Such plants include beets, brassicas, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower & brussels sprouts, chamomile, cucumbers, dill, kale, leeks, peppers, potatoes, summer savoury, spinach, squash, strawberries or tomatoes.
However, you should avoid planting onions near any asparagus, peas and beans.
8. Harvest Your Onions
As the onion harvesting nears, you will observe that the lower leaves on the onion plant will begin to wither and dry up, and then the stems will fall over. This means the onion bulbs have finished developing and are almost ready to be harvested.
Once the tops of most of the onions have fallen over, stop watering and leave the onions in the ground for another week or so. To harvest onions, pull gently on stems or you can use a shovel to dig it up.
9. Cure Onions After Harvesting
Immediately you round off your harvesting and spread them out in a dry location in a single layer. You will leave them to cure for up to three weeks, or until the tops are completely brown and dried.
Afterwards, if you discover anyone with a green top, keep them aside.
You should trim the roots off and the tops to 1 inch. You can then store the onion in a box with holes kept in a very cool and dark place.
In the box, store them in single layers and if you are unable to do so, try and separate the layers with a paper towel or wood shavings.
10. Storage Processes
Below are the ways that you can store your output at the end of the planting season. They are as follows:
A. Arrange the onions on dry ground for a few days to cure, weather permitting, or in a protected place such as a garage or barn.
B. Once it is cured, you will hang the onions in a mesh bag or nylon stocking and spread it up to two layers deep in a box and hang them in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area with an ideal temperature range of 40 to 60°F
C. Avoid storing in a refrigerator, as conditions will be too damp.
D. Check periodically for sprouting or rotting onions and remove them.
E. Don’t store onions with any other fruit such as apples or pears, as the ethylene gas produced by the fruits will interrupt the onions’ dormancy. It can also spoil the flavour of these fruits.
1. What Is The Best Fertilizer For Onions?
The best type of fertilizer is the nitrogen-based fertilizer which also contains ammonium sulfate or ammonium nitrate and should be applied at the rate of one cup per twenty feet of a row.
The first application should be about three weeks after planting and you can continue with applications every 2 to 3 weeks.
2. What Is The Best Month To Grow Onions?
In spring, you can plant onion sets outdoors in late March or April, when temperatures are no longer likely to dip below 28°F. You can start planting the onion seeds indoors for about 6 weeks before transplanting them to the ground once the soil is at least 50°F.
3. How Long Does It Take For The Onion To Grow And Mature?
Onions usually require 90-100 days to mature from seed, which is around four months. From sets, onions are ready to harvest after around 80 days, or just under three months.
4. How Can I Make My Onion Root Tip Grow Faster?
For your onion tip to grow faster, place the onions in a clear glass or jar with the root end down and add just enough water to the bottom of the container to cover the roots at the bottom of the bulbs. Afterwards, ensure that you change the water at least every other day.
5. What Weather Do Onions Grow Best In?
Onion seeds germinate at temperatures above 40°F while the optimum soil temperature is 75°F. If seeds are planted too early, cooler air and soil temperatures will delay germination and emergence 15-25-day requirement which will cause seedling growth to slow.
We hope this article has helped to enlighten you on how best to plant and grow your onion.
Do well to subscribe to our page and comment on your review on how impactful this tip must have been in the successful growth of your onion plants.