Growing Onions the Easy Way

Whether you start with seeds or sets, growing onions can be an easy and tasty endeavor.

| November/December 2012

  • Onion Growing In Pot
    A sprouted onion rests in a clay pot.
    Photo By iStockphoto.com/Alexey Ivanov
  • Rows Of Onion Bulbs
    Onions drying after harvest.
    Photo By iStockphoto.com/Dale Robins
  • Sowing Red Onions
    Sowing red onion sets might be a way to get your onion crop off to a quick start.
    Photo By iStockphoto.com/Chris Price
  • Onion Blossoms And Bees
    A bumblebee finds an onion blossom irresistible.
    Photo By iStockphoto.com/Tatiana Volgutov
  • Row Of Onion Grass
    A small-market farmer grows onions to be sold in farmers’ markets.
    Photo By iStockphoto.com/Gregory Home
  • Baskets Of Onions
    Baskets of onions are on display at a local farmers' market.
    Photo By iStockphoto.com/Terry J. Alcorn
  • Curing Onions
    After onions are pulled from the ground, they are left in the field to dry and cure before storing.
    Photo By iStockphoto.com/Lezh
  • Fresh Green Onions
    Yummy green onions, just pulled from the garden, await the cook’s pleasure.
    Photo By iStockphoto.com/Christine Glade
  • Gritty Cutting Onions
    Gritty cries as he chops an onion.
    Illustration By Brad Anderson

  • Onion Growing In Pot
  • Rows Of Onion Bulbs
  • Sowing Red Onions
  • Onion Blossoms And Bees
  • Row Of Onion Grass
  • Baskets Of Onions
  • Curing Onions
  • Fresh Green Onions
  • Gritty Cutting Onions

“It’s hard to imagine a civilization without onions.” — Julia Child

Indeed it is … and apparently, from their cultivation throughout at least 5,000 years of history, it has been hard for a civilization to imagine itself without the onion as well. Even as much as I fall into the camp of onion lovers, I can’t help but find it somehow odd that a root, even one able to garner such passion both in its enjoyment and its dislike, has become so instrumental in our evolution as gardeners and cooks. Still, every year, new lovers of the onion in its variant forms are born, and, every year, new gardeners try their hand at growing onions for the first time while seasoned growers work to improve their harvests.

The common onion (Allium cepa) is found and loved in many forms around the world. The yellow, white and purple (or red) onions; Welsh bunching onions; “walking” onions; and, of course, the scallion (or green onion) are probably the most popular, and many localities have their own favorites. Take, for instance, the “ramp” (wild onion/leek) of the Appalachian region whose fans hold festivals in honor of the vegetable’s arrival every spring.

Besides their pungent, sometimes sweet and always distinct flavor, onions have become popular for many of their other qualities as well. They are relatively easy to grow, whether from seed or starts; they are tolerant of a variety of soils; and they are transportable. On top of that, they can keep for a long time.



Why onions?

Once you’ve decided to add onions to your garden, the first thing to do is to figure out what you want to use them for — whether it be fresh summer salsas, green onions to top your favorite chili, storage onions to cook with all winter, or all of the above.

Choosing a variety can be a big decision if you have only a small garden, and it can be overwhelming if you have so much space you want to try them all. There are some easy ways to help narrow the search.

Heidi Lucas Decker
11/9/2012 3:59:49 PM

Just don't let your free range turkeys in the garden with your onions - they love to eat the tops. Just the tops. Mine loved it when I weeded the garden. They would flock out to the onion row and just munch the fresh onion tops right on off.







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