The most important considerations when growing onions

Shutterstock.com/ Anton Gvozdikov

If you are starting a vegetable patch and wondering what vegetables to grow or have had one for a long time and are simply wondering what to add to your garden then we have one suggestion, onions. Onions are such a versatile vegetable that it is useful to have them growing in your garden. With our tips, you will be able to grow a wide variety of onions in large quantities.

First of all, let’s convince you that you need to grow onions. While onions are usually inexpensive in the supermarket they are something that most people use daily. They are a perfect base for all dishes to add a layer of flavor. They are great raw in salads or burgers, they are fantastic in soups and stews. Onions, in essence, go well with everything. Not only that but they are healthy too. Onions are powerful for your immune system, keep your cholesterol in check, and are good for your blood. They grow well in most environments too, no matter your climate, you should be able to grow onions.

Of course, there are many varieties of onion. While there is the standard brown, red and white onion there are also pearl onions, sweet onions, shallots, scallions, and chives. You can grow a range of them in the same patch with ease. The only thing you need to ensure is that you change the spacing of what you plant depending on how big each variety of onion will grow.

There are three options to consider when starting to grow onions. You must choose whether you want transplants, seeds, or sets. Transplants are simply seedlings that are from the current season and often sold in bunches. They are a great option in the short term but are prone to disease. Sets are bulbs that were grown in the previous years and are ready to plant. They are regarded as the easiest option and are not prone to disease but they are prone to bolting. This is when a bulb sends a stalk through the bulb prematurely, also known as flowering. The other option is seeds, a great option if you have time, as these take around four months to start to grow.

While onions can be grown in most climates, not all onions can. It is important that you choose the onion you buy based on the latitude you are at and how many hours of daylight you have. Each onion seed or set will inform you what the ideal hours required are and this will make your final decision for you. 

In general, it is wise to plant the onions in springtime, they need cool weather while they are young and warm weather to thrive. Plant your onions about half an inch in the ground in rows. As a tip for planting, it is a good idea to plant some radishes with your onions. This is what we call a trap crop because it sets a trap for the insects in the area. They will be seduced by your radishes and leave your onions alone.

To give your onions the best chance of growth make sure you keep them weeded. However, it is not a good idea to go digging in the fertilizer to take out the root of the weed, this will upset the onion. Instead, use a sharp tool to cut off the heads of the weeds before they grow too much. 

Onions don’t need fertilizing and it can actually result in fewer bulbs as bulbs don’t grow well in a lot of nitrogen. The final important tip is to keep your onions moist. Dry conditions are not good for onions so ensure you water them often allowing for 1 inch of water every week. It really is that simple. Have a go and enjoy having onions so close to your kitchen forevermore.