Onions are a versatile and flavorful vegetable that can be enjoyed in a variety of dishes. Whether you prefer the sweetness of a fresh onion or the storage capabilities of a mature bulb, growing onions in your garden is a rewarding experience. In this article, we will explore the different types of onions, their care requirements, and some popular onion varieties to consider for your garden.
Choosing Onions: Short-Day vs. Long-Day Varieties
Onions are typically classified into two main categories: short-day and long-day varieties. The classification is based on the amount of daylight hours required for the onions to form bulbs. Understanding the difference between these types can help you select the right onions for your specific climate.
- Short-day varieties : These onions require 10 to 12 hours of daylight to produce bulbs. They are well-suited for warm climates where they can quickly develop a robust crop. If you live in a region with a shorter growing season, short-day onions are a great choice.
- Long-day varieties : Long-day onions need 14 hours or more of daylight to form bulbs. They are typically grown in cooler climates as they take a longer time to mature. Long-day onions are known for producing larger bulbs over an extended period.
Within each category, there are numerous storage and fresh-eating onion varieties to choose from, each with its own unique flavor and culinary uses.
5 Tips How to Grow a Ton of Onions in One Container or Garden Bed
Onion Care: Sun, Soil, and Water
To ensure a successful onion harvest, it’s important to provide them with the right growing conditions. Here are some essential care tips for onions:
- Sun : Onions thrive in full sun, so choose a location in your garden that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. This will help promote healthy bulb development and maximize flavor.
- Soil : Onions prefer moist, well-drained soil. Loose soil that drains freely is essential, as onions can rot in clay or slow-draining soil. If your garden soil doesn’t drain well, consider planting onions in raised beds or containers. A container with a diameter of at least 16 inches and a depth of 12 inches is suitable for growing onions.
- Planting : Onions can be grown from seeds, sets (small bulbs), or transplants. In colder climates, it’s best to start onions indoors 10 to 12 weeks before the average last frost date or use sets or bulbs for a head start. Plant seeds or sets ¾ inch deep in loose, moist soil. Once the seedlings emerge, thin them to 3-4 inches apart.
- Watering : Onions require regular watering throughout the growing season. Provide a deep watering once a week if there is no rainfall. Ensure the soil remains consistently moist but not waterlogged, as excessive moisture can lead to rotting.
- Harvesting : When approximately half of the onion tops are dry and falling over, it is an indication that the bulbs are mature and ready to be harvested. Gently lift the bulbs with a spading fork if they are not easily pulled up. Cure storage onions by leaving them in a warm, well-ventilated area for two to four weeks until the outer bulb scales are dry. Store onions in a cool, dry place for long-term preservation.
Popular Onion Varieties
Here are a few popular onion varieties that you may consider growing in your garden:
- ‘Ambition’ shallot (Allium cepa ‘Ambition’) : This variety produces divided bulbs with reddish-copper skin and white flesh. It takes approximately 90 days to mature.
- ‘Candy Hybrid’ onion : A mild-flavored intermediate-day yellow onion that stores fairly well. It matures in around 85 days.
- ‘Copra Hybrid’ onion (Allium cepa ‘Copra Hybrid’) : Widely adapted and sweeter than most storage onions, this long-day yellow onion takes about 105 days to mature.
- Egyptian walking onion : This cultivar develops clusters of onion bulblets at the tips of 2-foot-long stems. The bulblets cause the stem to bend, allowing them to root in the ground and spread from the mother plant. The bulblets can be used like pearl onions, and the green stems can be harvested for use as green onions.
- ‘Evergreen Hardy White’ scallion (Allium cepa ‘Evergreen Hardy White’) : A perennial onion variety that can be planted in spring or fall. It’s ready to harvest approximately 65 days after spring planting.
- ‘Giant Red Hamburger’ onion : This cultivar produces dark red bulbs that are ideal for slicing. The interior flesh is white and sweet. It is best adapted to the South and takes around 95 days to mature.
- ‘Redwing Hybrid’ onion (Allium cepa ‘Redwing Hybrid’) : Known for its pungent, red-flesh bulbs that store well, this long-day onion requires about 110days to mature.
- ‘Superstar Hybrid’ onion : This variety produces huge white bulbs that can weigh up to 1 pound each. It is a day-neutral onion, meaning it can be planted in various climates. It typically takes around 100 days to mature.
Growing onions in your garden can provide you with a continuous supply of flavorful vegetables throughout the year. Whether you choose short-day or long-day varieties, onions are relatively easy to grow and care for with the right conditions. Remember to provide them with full sun, well-drained soil, and regular watering. By following these guidelines and selecting suitable onion varieties, you can enjoy the delicious taste of homegrown onions in your favorite recipes. Happy gardening!