Cultivation of Onions
When growing onions keep in mind that they are are shallow rooted and any cultivation should be
done carefully to avoid damage to the bulbs or roots. Cultivation
should be shallow, without bringing excessive soil to the
plants. Many gardeners pull the soil away from plants in
order to allow greater bulb expansion. However, this
practice is not needed on well prepared, highly organic
soil. Mulching can also help control weeds.
Growing Onions in well-drained soils will discourage disease
problems. It is always wise to follow a rotation schedule
when planting onions.
Watering is critical when growing onions. Water
slowly and deeply to produce healthy onions. Onions should
receive about an inch of water per week slightly more in
sandy soils. Inexpensive
watering timer systems are
- Excessive watering
could easily lead to rot and
fungus particularly if your onions are not planted in a
Fertilizing Onion Plants
Apply a complete fertilizer such as 8-8-8 or 10-10-10, a few
days prior to planting. Onions are heavy nitrogen feeders
early when producing roots and top growth. Side dress
approximately 5 or 6 weeks after planting with high non
sulfur nitrogen fertilizer, Side dress onions again in late
winter. Excessive applications of nitrogen can delay maturity
of bulbs, cause thick necks and splitting.
growing onions keep in mind
that they are are the least suited to compete with
weeds. Weed pressure can be especially damaging to young
onion plants because they are slow growing, have shallow
roots and do not have enough foliage to adequately shade the
ground. Herbicides are not recommended , as many attack the
crop as well... careful/ shallow cultivation and weeding is
Good Neighbors of Onions are
Cabbage, Carrots, Celery, Cucumber,
Lettuce, Pepper, Squash, Strawberries,
and Tomato . Bad Neighbors include Bush
Beans, Pole Beans, Peas.
Do not plant onions or
other members of the
family in the same soil for more than
one season.. Rotate the crops to various
sections of your garden space from
season to season.
Chamomile with onions. Improves growth and flavor
Companion Planting for more extensive information
Bulb-forming onions produce
a single bulb in a season. Bulb-forming onions include
storage onions and fresh onions. The primary difference
between storage and fresh onions is that storage onions keep
for a longer period of time. Storage onions generally have a darker color, thicker
skins, and a more pungent flavor than fresh onions. Storage
onions can be grown from seed, onion sets, or transplants
Perennial onions, produce
clusters of small onions. Perennial onions include potato
onions, bunching onions, Egyptian onions, and shallots.
Fresh onions don't keep well and are best eaten soon after
they are harvested. They are commonly referred to as sweet
growers purposes Onions can be further divided into
Short, Medium and Long day varieties
A/K/A Vidalia, Maui, Noonday
Sweet ..Made famous by the onion-growing area in and around
Vidalia, Georgia. Earliest-maturing variety available, and
is recommended for southern growers. Does not store well.
Candy Hybrid Onion
This variety has the same characteristics as the yellow
variety, but with a pearly-white flesh. grows just about
anywhere in the contiguous U.S.
Onion Red Baron Hybrid
Red "Hamburger" is popular for size and sweetness.
Chunks up into big, solid slices up to 4 in. across.
Most flavorful used raw. Disease resistant , Stores well
Organic Falltime Leek 340 Seeds
light purple onion boasts 2" bulbs - ready to be sliced
into a savory summer salad. Can be harvested early like
Long Day Varieties
shanks grow up to 3 ft. long. Considered a summer leek,
it will not winter well in hard-freezing climates.
Spanish Onion -[Hybrid]
Available in white or yellow. These
onions are best for
For Marketing & Culinary purposes theses categories
can be further subdivided into the following
WHITE ONIONS: Glossy white
appearance. One of the more pungent onions. Use raw on
burgers, sandwiches, salsa and similar dishes if you like
warm, but real tasty onions. Otherwise, they can be used in
any recipe that calls for cooked onions.
YELLOW ONIONS: Golden color with relatively strong flavor.
May be used cooked or raw, depending on your taste for a
somewhat pungent onion. Long, slow sautéing at very low heat
brings out sweet, mellow flavors.
RED ONIONS: Purplish rather than red, they are relatively
mild. Appealing in salads or sautéed in stir fries. Also
good for many other recipes. Adding a bit of vinegar, wine
or lemon juice helps keep color from fading or turning
purplish-blue. You'll often find red onions in salads at
SHALLOT: This is not a true onion, it is a small relative of
the onion with dry, coppery skin. The flavor combines onions
and garlic. Hot when raw, but cooks to a delicate flavor.
SCALLIONS: This is a variety of onions that is harvested
before the bulb has formed. Mild flavor. Green onions have
tiny white bulbs at the bottom while scallions are younger
and have straight white sides at the root end.
LEEKS: In the scallion family. It looks like a large, fat
scallion with a white root and dark green, overlapping
leaves. Only the root is used. Careful trimming and cleaning
are necessary because dirt can accumulate in leaves.
Common pests of most Onion
Root Maggots and
Maggots attack germinating seedlings, they
feed on the developing roots and
epicotyl. as well as the expanding bulb during later
stages of plant development. [Image]
Beet armyworm and
Cutworms. Most damage can be avoided by using hardy
transplants.Onion plants can also be protected with
or spinosad sprays.
Snails and Slugs Slugs and snails like to feed on
young seedlings and succulent parts of plants. They leave a
trail of mucus on the surfaces on which they crawl. Moist,
humid environments favor slug development, and slugs usually
overwinter in sheltered locations outdoors
leaf miners are also minor pests of Onion Plantings.
are Yellowish-pink to pale green plant lice that suck ......plant
juices. They are a soft-bodied, oval/pear shaped insect and are commonly
found on nearly all varieties of plants, vegetables, field crops, and
fruit trees. [Images]
Hot Pepper Wax
repels bugs from your plants, fruits and flowers. 100% natural spray
uses pepper extract and wax to effectively discourage pests. Helps to
reduce stress on cuttings.
Most onions are also
susceptible to fungal infestations, at times it can
be a severe problem , particularly under moist conditions.
Botrytis Neck Rot
a major disease of onions. Susceptibility varies by variety.
In general, white cultivars are moresusceptible, red and
yellow cultivars may also sustain heavy damage. Symptoms
generally appear after harvest, although infections occur in
the field. The fungus enters bulbs through the neck when the
tops are cut .A gray mold develops between the onion
scales and black
sclerotia may develop around the neck of the bulb.
Secondary invasion by soft rot bacteria may cause a watery
Botrytis Leaf Blight occurs in poorly drained damp areas. The
bacteria is spread by garden tools and surface
water .Bacterial leaf blight usually occurs only
on the upper leaves. Small water-soaked lesions
form and eventually coalesce into larger lesions
that eventually cover the entire leaf. See
Botrytis Leaf Blight Disease Cycle
Downy Mildew [
Cornell Veg. MD online
University of Calif. Onion and Garlic
Pink Root Infected roots first
turn light pink, then darken through red and purple,
shrivel, turn black, and die. The pinkish red discoloration
may extend up into the scales of the bulb. New roots also
may become infected. If infection continues, plants become
stunted. The disease seldom results in plant death.
Infection is confined to roots and outer scales of the bulb.
Severe infection will reduce bulb size.
Purple Blotch usually infects
dead or dying leaf tissue. The initial symptoms are small,
pale, sunken lesions. These lesions develop purple centers .
The infection can encompass much of the leaf, leading to the
death of tissue above the lesion. This disease can be
controlled with fungicides.
Black Mold occurs sporadically but is
potentially serious. It causes damage primarily to stored
onions, rendering them unpalatable and unmarketable.
Identification of Diseases and Disorders of Onions
Colorado State Univ. Botrytis, Downy Mildew and Purple
Blotch of Onion
Storage of Onions
Onions will store better if
they are dried for several days outdoors, away from direct
- Leave the tops on the bulbs during drying.
drying, cut tops within an inch of bulb.
- Fresh sweet onions can be stored for several weeks in a
cool, dark place. They can be stored in the refrigerator,
but do not put them in plastic bags. This will inhibit air
- Storage onions should be dried for a longer period of 10 to
14 days. After cured, the tops can be removed and onions
stored in mesh bags, or dried tops can be braided into a
string of onions.
- It's best to use onions with a
1-inch diameter or less.
- Wash and peel onions.
- Cover with boiling water.
- Bring to a boil for 5 minutes.
- Pack the onions into hot jars, leaving an inch of headspace.
- Add ½ teaspoon salt to pints, 1 teaspoon to quarts
- Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids and process
both pints and quarts at 10 pounds pressure for 40 minutes.
- Bulb onions - store well in a cool, dry place.
- Choose mature bulbs , Clean thoroughly.
- Water blanch for 3 to 7 minutes or until center is heated.
- Cool promptly, drain and package, leaving a half inch
headspace. Seal securely, Then freeze.
These will be suitable for cooking not eating as is.
- Green onions may be chopped and frozen without blanching,
Plant Talk - Growing Onions from Seed