Tips for a Great Onion Crop

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Experts offer 10 tips to growing great onions.

National Garden
Bureau member Dixondale Farms recently featured some terrific onion growing
tips in their newsletter. The NGB thought the tips were so good, the
organization asked to share, and here they are. So, if you are growing onions,
here are some tips for getting the best crop possible, straight from the
onion-growing experts:

1. Plant the
right variety of onions at the right time of year for your area, and buy only
from reputable producers that send true varieties. Choose from Short-Day,
Intermediate-Day or Long-Day varieties.

2. When your
plants arrive, remove them from the box and place them in a well-ventilated,
cool area until you can plant them. Keep the plants dry until then, and do not
put them in soil or water.

3. Choose a
location with full sun and good drainage for planting your onions.

4. Prepare your
onion beds early, so a few crops of weeds can be flushed and tilled under prior
to planting. Later, if needed, apply a post-emergent herbicide or control weeds
by hand.

5. Fertilize
with a balanced fertilizer before planting, and with a good source of nitrogen
every three weeks until the onions start to bulb.

6. Water your
plants thoroughly and immediately after planting. Use the knuckle rule to
determine when to water during the season. If you can feel moisture when you
stick your finger in the ground up to your first knuckle, then the onions are
wet enough. Use drip irrigation rather than an overhead sprinkler system, which
may promote the spread of disease.

7. Keep a close
eye on the weather, especially early in the season. When you discover that a
frost or freeze is coming, water the onions in very well and put down mulch or
straw to help protect them. If it gets really cold, you may want to spread
burlap over the onions as insulation.

8. Spray weekly
with a protective fungicide to prevent foliar diseases and rotting during
storage. You won’t notice there’s a problem with the disease until it’s too
late and they start rotting after harvest.

9. At harvest
time, lift the onions out of the ground and put the top of one onion over the
bulb of another. Let them dry for three days in the field or garden, and allow
the tops to completely dry down before clipping them.

10. Store the
harvested onions in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location. Place them in mesh
bags or netting to permit air flow all around the onions, and to prevent one
rotten onion from touching the others. 

If you’ll follow
these tips, you’ll most likely end up with an excellent crop of onions that
will last well in storage.

For more
gardening information, visit the National Garden Bureau website and for information on growing great onions, visit the
Dixondale Farms website.