On average, I cook with onions about 5 days a week. They are a staple in our diet and, until this year, they have been one vegetable we have never had luck growing.
Last year, because our harvest was a bummer crop (the exact opposite of a bumper crop!), I went to the local farmer’s market to see what I could find. The farmer there who I just love, Richard, had big beautiful onions and I asked how he grew them that big. He said he never uses the onion sets. You know those little teeny onions you see in bins and bags everywhere at the first sign of Spring. He, instead, uses onion plants. They come in a bundle like this, often refrigerated.
We decided to give the plants a try and boy, are we glad we did! They were super easy to plant. We planted them in a double row and just shoved them in the ground an inch or so. To help keep the ground moist and weeds at a minimum, we mulched them twice with grass clippings. They did really well and we will definitely be planting them again.
Here are the stats:
- Plant date: April 27
- Total planted: 48 plants ($3.29 at our local nursery)
- Harvest date: July 11 (left out to dry for 3 weeks)
- Total harvest: 42 onions or 15.3 lbs.
- Estimated savings: $12 - $15
My advice for growing big beautiful onions:
- Start onion from seed or buy plants from your local nursery (avoid using onion sets, if possible)
- Don't plant them very deep. Onions grow best when they can expand above the soil. Plant shallow.
- Mulch around the plants to keep weeds at bay and preserve moisture.
- When tops of onions have fallen over, pull out of the ground and allow to dry in the garden for a couple days, weather permitting.
- Move onions out of direct sunlight to a dry area and give them another 2-3 weeks to dry.
- When tops have died off (like below), snip them off close to the bulb, brush off any dirt or grass (do not wash) and store in a cool, dry place.
Keep an eye on your stored onions and use up any that are bruised, immature or soft right away. Just like a bad apple can ruin the whole bunch, a rotting onion can affect your whole harvest so you'll want to keep an eye on them.
Linking up with the Homestead Barn Hop.