Onions are one of the easiest and most delicious vegetable crops for your garden. Varieties range in flavor from pungent to sweet. Not only do onions serve to add flavor to your meals, but they also reduce cholesterol in the blood stream. Onions can be started as seeds or as “sets”, small plants that have already been sprouted from seeds. “Sets” have an advantage over seeds since they give you a head start with planting.
Onions need to be watered often, especially during the warmest part of the growing season. They also need soil that drains well.
There are many kinds and colors of onions. They can be green,yellow, white or red. And they come in a variety of sizes from thin pencil-sized green onions to larger bulbs 2″ to 4″ in diameter.
Green onions were one of my favorites to grow when I was a child. Their hot, pungent taste provides a burst of flavor when eaten raw with mustard or turnip greens. Long thin green onions should be planted about 2″ apart. Larger onions need 6″-8″ of space around plants to allow room for growth and full development. Apply a good organic fertilizer to your plants every 3-4 weeks. Add a layer of mulch around plants to reduce weed growth and to conserve water.
Onions are hardy plants and can be grown in most parts of the world. They should be planted after the last killing frost in the spring. Other varieties can be grown in the fall. Check with your local agricultural extension to find out when you should plant and which varieties grow best in your area.
When your onion plants are mature they will be fat and slightly raised out of the soil. Green onions are best when harvested when they are young and bright green in color. When the tops of bulb type onion plants start to turn brown, it is time to prepare them for storage. Bend the tops over by hand at the neck to speed the drying process. Once the tops are fairly brown, the plants can be pulled up and put into a net bag for storage. A clean nylon hose also makes a good storage container. Store your onions in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight.
Onions are a favorite for your home garden. They are easy to grow and add flavor to sauces, soups and many other of your recipes. Onions require mainly water and fertilizer to produce a good crop. You cannot grow wrong when you add onions to you gardening plot.
Robert Gregory Donaldson is a writer and gardener living in Reno, Nevada where he grows a variety of food crops.