Row by Row Episode 216: Top 10 Onion Growing Questions
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Row by Row Episode 216: Top 10 Onion Growing Questions

Row by Row Episode 216: Top 10 Onion Growing Questions

Since it is almost onion planting time, we decided to take our top 10 onion growing questions that are usually asked by viewers, customers, or fellow gardeners. Why are onions a great crop for homesteaders and home gardeners? They're low maintenance, rarely have any pest or disease pressure, and they have great storage! One key tip is to know what type of onion you need to be growing for your zone, short, intermediate, or long-day onions. Don't know? Check out our onion map!

Top 10 Onion Growing Questions

1. Can I Grow A Vidalia Onion?

Vidalia onions can only be grown in Georgia. According to the Vidalia Onion Act of 1986, there are only 20 counties in the United States that are allowed to grow Vidalia onions and sell them under the trademarked name. All of those counties are in Georgia, centered around the small town of Vidalia, Ga.

2. How Do You Cure Onions?

Spread the onions out in a single layer, taking care not to bump or bruise them. Leave them to spread out in a single layer. Warm (75-80 degrees F), dry and breezy is ideal. As the onions are curing, their necks will gradually wither and the papery skins will tighten around the bulbs.

3. How Do You Store? How Long Will They Keep?

You should store onions outside the refrigerator in a dry, dark, and cool place with good air circulation.

4. How Do You Know When To Harvest Onions?

It's time to pull up your onion plants when at least half of the tops have turned mostly yellow and are laying down. As far as size is concerned, you can pull them out of the ground when they get as large as you’d like. The crop will need to be pulled and cured on the ground in the sunlight for at least 2 – 4 days

After 2 – 4 days, gently shake off the dirt from the roots being careful not to bruise the bulbs, and get them prepared for curing. Ideally, you’ll want to harvest your onion crop in the morning on a sunny day and the temperature is between 75°F – 80°F.
While harvesting, be sure to pull out the onion by the bulb and not by the stems. Breaking the stems could leave the onion plant vulnerable to rot during the curing process. Also, if any of your onion plants have bolted (grown flower stalks) try to leave them intact. Trimming them could also introduce bacteria causing them to rot.

5. What is the difference between an onion set and an onion slip?

Individual onion plants are known as "slips" and when onions plants are in bunches, that is when they are called "bunches".

6. Does Trimming The Onion Green Tops Improve Bulb Growth?

When seedlings are young, trimming the tops will force more of the plant's energy into the root system and also the bulb forming just above it. Adding nitrogen, calcium nitrate, and potassium, when the onions are growing, helps to increase the bulb size.

7. Should I Transplant or Direct Seed?

Transplanting small onion plants can give you more control over your results in the garden. Transplants give you a huge jumpstart on the season because they typically mature sooner and will end up giving you an earlier harvest.

8. How Much Water Do Onions Need?

Overhead Watering - Water 1 1/2" per week using 2 applications of 3/4" each time. Drip Tape Irrigation - Run irrigation 3 times per week for 1 hour each time. Account for any rain that has occurred and adjust irrigation schedules accordingly and you should top watering 7-14 days before harvesting to let the onions start drying out

9. What Fertilizer Should I use?

Onions are heavy feeders, you should not fertilize during the bulbing process. 1 week before planting - after adjusting your soil pH to 6.0 - 6.5, mix 1.5 cups per 10 ft. of row of Hoss Complete Organic Fertilizer with your soil. 2 weeks after planting - add 1 cup of Hoss 20-20-20 Premium Fertilizer per 20 ft. row. 4 weeks after planting - Mix 2 cup of 20-20-20 and 1-2 cups of Hoss Micro-Boost Micronutrient Supplement per 20 ft. row. Every 7 days alternate Hoss Ammonium Sulfate and Mirco-Boost. You should discontinue fertilizing 30 days before harvesting.

10. What Variety Should I Grow? Best Time To Plant?

  1. Short day (bulbs when day length reaches 10-12 hours) planted in late winter/early spring. (Plethora, Sofire, Savannah Sweet, Red Creole, Texas Super sweet)
  2. Intermediate (bulbs when day length reaches 12-14 hours) should be planted in the fall. (Candy, Red Floyd, Sierra Blanca)
  3. Long day (bulbs when day length reaches 14-16 hours) planted in late winter/early spring. (Walla Walla, Sterling, Red Nugent)
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