We all know that a lot of our favorite recipes would not be the same without onions. There are several common ways to grow onions, whether from onion sets, transplanting, or seeds. Home growers have found that learning how to grow onions from seed is one of the most successful strategies that you should take.
Starting onions from seed might be only one of three ways to grow these plants in your garden, but there are many benefits.
Food historians, botanists, and archaeologists all believe that onions originated from central Asia. There are also signs that the first grown onions were in Iran and western Pakistan.
Onions have been consumed for thousands of years and might be one of the first cultivated crops. They are transportable and less perishable than a lot of other fruits and veggies.
On top of that, growing onions from seed is possible in a wide variety of soils and climates. If you are now prepared to learn how to grow onions from seeds, let’s dive right in.
Onions and Nutrition
Onions are from the allium family and are available for purchase at garden centers, grocery stores, and farmers’ markets. We already know the sharp flavor of raw onions and the more mild flavor of cooked onions.
It is truly marvelous how these veggies can make a meal taste so much better. They don’t just taste good; they also give our bodies the nutrients they need.
Onions are practically free of fat, cholesterol, sodium, and carbohydrates. One medium onion has fewer than 45 calories while containing folate, manganese, zinc, potassium, calcium, iron, and vitamins A, B, and C.
The flavonoid called quercetin acts as an anti-inflammatory for our body while protecting against many types of cancer.
Learning how to plant onion seeds isn’t only a good idea for flavoring your food, but it is a wise choice if you want to take steps toward bettering your health.
Growing onions from seed is not your only option, but there are plenty of tips for this method that help you and other home gardeners be successful.
Tips for Growing Onions from Seed
There is a considerable list of onion varieties to choose from. There are scallions, leeks, shallots, Walla Walla onions, Spanish onions, red onions, bunching onions, and more.
With so many kinds to choose from, is starting onions from seed really the best option? Before we go into more detail, it’s essential to understand the three types of onions you may be dealing with.
Types of Onions
Onions are broken down into three categories: short-day onions, long-day onions, and day-neutral or intermediate day onions. These categories are related to how much day length is required for bulb formation to take place.
Short-day onions form bulbs when there are 10 to 12 hours of daylight during the growing season. These onion bulbs do better with mild winter climates in hardiness zone seven and above. The best way to plant onions of this kind is in the fall so that they mature by late spring.
Day-neutral onions start bulbing when they have 12 to 14 hours of daylight. These grow in all regions except for southern Florida and Texas.
They are most ideal for zones five and six. Plant these onions in the late fall or early spring – they are mature by late summer.
Long-day onions must have 14 to 16 hours of daylight to form. They grow best in northern regions in growing zone six or colder. They are safe to plant in late winter or early spring and are usually ready mid to late summer.
Other Ways to Grow Onions
There are other grow-onions methods to choose from besides learning how to grow onions from seed. Onion sets are one way to grow onions in your garden.
Many people make the mistake of planting large onion sets, but the smaller ones flower later than the big ones.
Transplanting onions is another method for growing them, but we found that they never have as successful a growing season as starting onions from seed.
It’s also possible to regrow onions from the root end of the onion that you usually throw away.
How to Grow Onions from Seed
While onion seedlings are often successful in people’s gardens, it also takes quite a bit of knowledge to have a good crop. Because onions are cool-season plants, they must have at least 90 days to mature.
Planting onion just after the last frost date of early spring is ideal, but that means you have to start them indoors much earlier.
Start onion seeds ten to 12 weeks before putting the plants outside in the garden. Once your timeline is set up, you are ready to begin the process.
Starting Onions from Seed
Some people choose to keep onion seeds stored in their homes for a couple of years before using them. However, germination rates fall as the seeds age. If you have access to first-year onion seeds, it is best to use those.
Seed starting mix is better to use at the beginning of the growing season than garden soil because it has all of the necessary nutrients to get your onions off to a good start and is free from soil-borne diseases.
Plant the seeds in several growing pots just under the top of the soil. Thoroughly spray the mix with water so that they are moist.
Keeping Seeds Warm
Onion germination happens fastest when the seeds remain between 68°F and 77°F. Achieve this temperature by using grow lights or a heating pad on the bottom of the container.
Ensure the soil always has moisture and, if the temperature is consistent, the seeds germinate after only eight days.
Removing Seed Husks
Once germination happens in indoor gardening, the seedlings don’t always pull away from the seed as they should, and the plant looks like a small green loop.
Over time, the smaller end should pull out of the soil, but it doesn’t always happen this way. Simply cut the loop in half, pull out the smaller end, and throw it away to rescue them.
Now that your plants are growing, they require supplemental light. Keep grow lights on your onion plants for 12 hours a day and position the bulbs so that they are only an inch away from the plants.
If your onions are growing too fast and are not ready to be transplanted, use clean scissors to trim them back.
Once your seedlings have three leaves, move them to a different pot if they are not at least four inches deep. Onions like having a lot of vertical space for their roots to grow. If they are already in four-inch deep containers, continue as usual.
Once the last frost of spring is over, it is time to harden off your onions. Move them outdoors and increase their time outside every day for ten days, so they get used to the colder weather.
Guaranteeing that your onions are moved to a location that suits their needs is critical. Onions require an area that receives full sun or six or more direct sunlight hours every day. They enjoy fertile soil amended with organic matter or compost.
Organic material aids with drainage and adds nutrients to the ground. To transplant onions, remove your seedlings carefully from their containers by placing one hand over the top of the onions, turning the container upside down, and gently shaking so the roots release.
Onion plant spacing is important so they have room to grow. Three to four inches apart is ideal. Dig a small hole so the roots are completely buried, and gently push back the removed soil without packing it.
Once all of your seedlings have been transplanted, water the entire garden bed frequently so that their shallow root system remains moist.
Weed the bed so that they don’t have to compete for resources. Adding mulch to the top of the ground helps keep some weeds at bay while maintaining moisture in the soil.
Keep an eye out for pests like onion maggots and thrips. Onions don’t have many enemies, but the few they do have may ruin your yield. These pests are easily removed with insecticides, but it is better to spot them ahead of time than when it is too late.
Practice companion planting with onions to reduce the number of harmful insects and increase productivity.
Harvesting onions may happen at any time, from when they are as young as green onions or left to mature.
They finish growing when their tops start to flop over. When this happens, stop all watering and wait for a dry day to harvest them.
Loosen the soil on all sides of the bulbs to encourage them to dry. Harvest them by late summer on dry days only, or your onions might rot. Pull the onions from the ground and get ready to cure them.
Before you store onions, you must cure them. Clip the roots and tops back by an inch or two. Allow the onions to dry on the ground for a few days in a protected place like a garage or garden shed.
Once cured, place the onions in a mesh bag and hang them in a cool, dry, ventilated area. Store onions between 40°F and 60°F and check on them periodically to ensure they are not sprouting or rotting.
Cooking with Onions
We all know that dicing up onions and throwing them in a pot with other ingredients is delicious, but a lot of people don’t take advantage of turning onions into a side dish.
Onions may not be for everybody, but there are delicious ways to use them in the kitchen.
Peel your onion and slice it into rings. Place the onion slices in a large baking dish and set it aside. Melt the butter in a little saucepan on low heat and then stir in the flour and salt until the consistency is smooth.
Slowly stir in the milk and bring everything to a boil on medium heat. After cooking for two minutes, remove the milk mixture from the stove and fold in the cheese to melt.
Pour the cheese over the onions and bake for 45 minutes at 350°F until the cheese is melty and slightly browned.
Starting onions from seed doesn’t always sound like the easiest way to grow an onion. Despite what many people may tell you, onions are one of the easiest vegetables to grow regardless of your approach.
As long as you enjoy them and all the advantages they have, there is no wrong way to plant these fantastic veggies.
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