The advantages of growing onions from onion seeds are better crop quality, more resistant plants, and the onion not blooming. The advantages of growing onions from onion sets are shorter and simpler growing and, on average, a slightly larger yield, which is why the method of growing onion sets is more widespread.
Onions are the basis of many dishes; at the same time, onions are easy to grow, so, understandably, they are often represented in gardens. We often grow large quantities of potatoes, roots, and beets in the field. Red, rosy, and white onions and various shapes are grown from seeds or onion sets.
The onion sets were formed by sowing the seeds last summer. So we have a little onion, which (prematurely) stops growing and continues its growth after planting next year. Chives can also be planted in the fall (at the same time as autumn garlic), especially for the early harvest of young onion, because in the autumn, the plant will bloom next summer. We enjoy fresh young onions on spring days; we store the harvest at the end of summer for use throughout the summer. The shallot is a unique subspecies of onion(Allium Cepa Var. Aggregatum). Since the shallot is less common on store shelves, it is even more interesting to grow.
I highly recommend the book “Onions Etcetera: The Essential Allium Cookbook – more than 150 recipes for leeks, scallions, garlic, shallots, ramps, chives and every sort of onion” for anyone who wishes to turn everyday onions into delightful dishes you’ll want to make over and over again.
How to Growing Onions From Onion Sets or Seeds
Growing Onions From Onion Seeds
Let’s sow onion whenever in February. We do not pick onions; depending on the size of the planting unit, we have two growing options.
1. Sow 2 to 3 seeds in small planting units. This way, we will grow small clumps of onion sets, which we will also transplant together to the final place.
2. We will sow in medium planting units, then sow from 5 to 7 seeds, to grow large clumps of onion sets, which we transplant together.
The decision is a matter of the individual and the method of gathering sage on the beam.
In both cases, we sow in a moist substrate and sow the seeds with a dry substrate 0.5 cm thick. We germinate them at a temperature between 18 and 22 °C, which also corresponds to other plants that we germinate at the same time. Since they successfully germinate in the dark, we cover the container, which enables better germination due to constant humidity. We remove it as soon as we notice the first sprouts, which is accessible in four days, and immediately move it to a bright place with the same temperatures. Night temperatures can also be lower, up to 0 °C.
We regularly water the seedlings every other day like all the others that we grow simultaneously. Before we transplant them to the bed, we harden them for at least four days against a south-facing rock or in a greenhouse to adapt to the outside temperatures, especially to the fluctuation of night temperatures.
How to Growing Onions From Onion Sets
We grow the onion sets ourselves but prefer to buy them (because it’s easier). When choosing the onion sets we buy, we don’t follow the rule of thumb: thicker onion set – thicker onion. Namely, thick onion sets often cause the plant to go into flower because (last summer) they grew too long and stored enough energy and nutrients for the flower continuation.
We plant onion sets directly on the bed from the end of March to the middle of April. First, mark the rows on the bed, which are 30 cm apart. In each row, we plant onion sets at a distance of 15 cm. The fastest way to do this is with the help of a meter, which we stretch for each type separately and push the onion sets into the ground at multiples (distances) of 15. We push them about 3 cm deep (in the compost mat a little deeper).
We water the entire bed only in the case of an arid spring; in principle, we do not water individual saplings. If mandatory, cover it with a tarp; you can also directly. Even in this case, the veil covered in this way does not harm the sage, as its leaves flatten out when the veil is removed. Onions can withstand spring frosts, and in April, they grow extremely fast due to the additional warmth under the garden blanket, which at the same time protects them from the sage fly.
We can also plant chebulček in October, but in early November, cover it with tarps during the winter, and we will have a better crop of young sage in the spring. Autumn sowing often comes into flower next season in the spring.
Let’s dedicate a whole garden bed to it. If we grow it in both ways, we plant it together on the same bed. When the onion is harvested in late July or early August (or while it is still drying on the bed), fill the bed with endive, radicchio, Chinese cabbage, sow rocket, rutabaga, or autumn spinach.
During the growth of young plants in the early spring, the plant cover is loosened several times so that it does not inhibit the growth of the leaves. We remove the weight from the plant cover, lift it, put it back slightly, and weigh it down. When the onion leaves are 10 cm high, we set up the garden arches, over which we stretch the tarp to give it room to grow. If the leaves have been a little curled up until now, they will straighten out soon. We leave the plant cover or insect net over the plants until the end of May. Onions are watered during more extended periods of dry weather in June, which is a critical period for onions to thicken. The more moisture it has in early summer, the thicker the crop will be.
When grown from an onion set, the onion obtains all the necessary nutrients from it, so its initial development is faster (rooting is stronger and faster) than with seedlings grown from seeds. If you see an onion forming a flower stalk, pick it up as soon as possible and eat it like a spring onion. When growing onions in bunches, we thin them during growth when we collect young onions, and thus give the remaining plants in the individual bunch more space to grow and mature.
Challenges and Inconveniences in Growing Onions
Onion flies can attack all bulbs, not just onions. It also appears up to three times a year – at the end of April, at the end of June, and in August or depending on the weather. It does the most damage in early spring, i.e., at the end of April. The fly lays its eggs on plants or at the root neck near the soil. Within a week, white larvae hatch from them and burrow into the central leaf, feeding on plant tissue. Several dozen onion fly larvae can be found in one plant. Attacked plants wither, turn yellow, and die. The adult larvae then penetrate through the bulb into the soil, where they pupate and overwinter in the beetle state.
Also, onions can be attacked by the garlic fly, or holes and cracks can be created by the leek borer. The attack is noticed (when it is already too late) when the leaves of the plant are already damaged and do not grow well in height. It is best to protect the plants by cover with a plant cover. At the same time, we create a more favorable microclimate for spring growth.
The first crop is a young onion, which, in the case of onions, starts to be harvested from the bulb after only a few weeks. The leaves are immediately edible. As a rule, we wait until it develops firm and juicy green leaves. Onions from seed start to be harvested (thinned) regularly at the end of May. Homemade spring onions from one’s own garden are worth even more because they surpass purchased spring onions in terms of freshness and quality.
Onions for harvesting are picked when the leaves turn yellow – from the end of June to August. To ensure uniform ripening, all plants should be laid with their leaves on the ground for at least 10 days before harvesting. Pull the onion out of the ground, dry it with the leaves in the sun, and store it in a suitable cellar. It is ideal for storage when the leaves have completely dried in the sun.
Young onions are used immediately, without long storage. It can wait in the cold for a week. Ripe onions with their dried leaves are braided into long bundles and hung in a dry place or put without leaves in boxes or mesh bags, where they wait until spring. Store them in a room below 10 °C and with slightly lower humidity than in the basement. Ideal for an unheated garage.