Growing Onions at Home

Posted by David Burton at

Onion Plants In the Greenhouse in November
Our onion plants are sown in late October in a climate controlled greenhouse.  Onion transplants that are subject to temperatures under 50°F for over ten days are prone to put energy into flowering later in the garden.  Our climate controlled greenhouse is kept at 55°F during the dark hours with the fans venting at 85°F during the day.  This climate ensures the plants won't put energy into seed production and will put more energy into larger bulbs in the garden.
Onion Plants a Month Before Harvest
Onions are easy to grow vegetable plants that require fertile soil and consistent soil moisture.  Before planting enrich your soil with compost and an all purpose fertilizer(see recipe idea below).  Use a rotary tiller or border fork to work the compost and fertilizer into the top eight to ten inches of your soil.  Then, water the soil and mulch with straw or grass clippings to at least an 1" deep.  Transplant your plants when the soil temperatures are above 50°F.  Space the plants 8"-10" apart with rows 12" apart.  When, planting onions make sure not to cover the crown(where the foliage meets the bulb), but plant deep enough to cover the bulb.  After planting, water in the new planting to eliminate air pockets.   Then after, two weeks start fertilizing with an all purpose liquid fertilizer; we prefer fish emulsion.  When, the foliage starts to fall over, stop using liquid fertilizer and in about two weeks you can harvest the crop. 
Cortland Onions In September
On harvest day pull the bulbs early and let them sit a couple hours in the sun so the dirt can dry before placing them in a box or basket.  Once harvested, cure for a couple weeks to a month on wire racks or braid the foliage and hang them in a well ventilated area.  Proper air circulation is important during the curing process.   After, they are cured you can place them in boxes or baskets.  Make sure to inspect the stored onions periodically for soft or rotten bulbs.  Keeping onions between 34°F- 40°F will delay sprouting and elongate the storage time.  Redwing and cortland onions will store for 4-6 months with ease.
Fertilizer Recipe:
2 cups feather meal
1 cup blood meal
1 cup bone meal
1 cup kelp meal
Mix thoroughly and apply a generous dusting over top of soil.  Always incorporate into the soil by scratching in with a border fork or rake.

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