I dream of onions! A day without onions is like a day without sunshine. I may have messed up on the metaphor, but a great portion of our daily intake of food has some form of this tasty bulb or stalk hidden within its lists of ingredients; especially Mexican food.
In the south the last gasps of winter are blowing a few snow flakes around the garden. As soon as the ground is dry enough, it is time to put onion sets into the ground. They will begin to grow in cold weather and mature as the days get warmer.
Economically it is cheaper for most of us in a small family to simply go to the market and buy the vegetables we need, but it is not nearly as much fun as growing them yourself and the food is usually tastier and healthier for you.
Like good wines, onions are categorized by colors; red, white and yellow, with hybrids of each category available through seed catalogs and seed stores. I buy the plants, or sets, at local seed stores that specialize in obtaining the correct specimen for your location.
I live in the south where our temperatures are fairly warm all year round, compared to most of the north. “Short Day ” varieties of onions work for our section of the country because the sets will start making bulbs earlier in the year when there are 10-12 hours of sunlight.
“Long Day ” onions are the choice of northerners because they have 14-16 hours of sun in the summer and they will have longer to produce taller plants and larger bulbs.
If you planted a “Short Day” onion in the north, it wouldn’t do nearly as well as putting it into a bed in the south. The same applies to the “Long Day” vegetable living in the south. My growing area is sort of between these two, so I live in an intermediate growth area. There are onions for that climate also.
After picking the onion sets you would like to grow, find a well drained spot in your garden. As soon as you can break a plot of workable soil, dig a trench about three to four inches deep.
Pour about one-half cup per ten feet of 10-10-10 fertilizer in the trench and cover it with two to three inches of soil. Next, plant the onion sets on top of that layer of soil, about four inches apart and cover them with an another inch of soil.
Onions do not require a lot of work, but they do need more fertilizer as the bulbs begin to grow. It takes a lot of nourishment to make big bulbs. Side dress them with either more of the fertilizer you used in the beginning or dried manure. They will love you for that small act of kindness.
When the green shoots, or leaves, are about five to six inches tall, pull every other onion from the bed. Use them for salads, soups or just eat the tender white onion raw. Harvesting onions in this manner will enable the onion bulbs on the remaining plants to grow large and round.
Chives are onions too. Plant a few in your flower garden or herb garden and they will come back for years to grace the tops of baked potatoes. Water them occasionally and you will be blessed with this delicacy for years.
Onions are not only good for you, but in ancient days they were thought to have mystical powers and were able to keep vampires and other scary characters at bay. Over the years, to the consternation of us onion lovers worldwide, Hollywood has evidently learned that garlic has more box office power than the onion. The majestic onion has been relegated to second place in evil character removal.
Bob Alexander is a true son of the south, having attained expert status in eating barbeque, fish stories and leisure living. He resides in Alabama, the 22nd state to be admitted into the union of The United States of America. Bob is also the author and owner of this article.