Onions- a Winter Crop?

Onion flowering, onion seeds, onion gone to seed. can you plant onions in the fall? will onions survive the winter?

An onion gone to flower. Soon it will have a seed packet in place of the flower.

Have you ever left some of the small onions in your garden and have them come up strong the next year? When they do this, the second year they will go to seed and get a little ball at the tip of the onion stalk that contains the seeds. They can actually be quite pretty and fun to try in your garden. Onions can be a very easy crop to grow, but many times people will just get them started too late in the season to get a good crop to use with the other vegetables grown in the garden that year. Onions only need a few things:

  1. Space. If you plant them too close together, sure you might get mature onions, but they might be bite size. So if your aim is large onions, give plenty of space that they will not even touch when they are full grown. I like to stagger my rows so that they can take up a little bit of the in between space of the other onions.
  2. Time. Onions like a good growing season. If planted right they will be done right around the tomatoes in time to make salsa. If you plant them too late, you might be saving the onions for use over the winter and buying onions for the salsa. I like to plant enough onions for both. Try getting some onion seeds and planting them now- in the fall. The seeds will not germinate until spring, and once they do, they will most likely poke their green little leaves through the snow. It is such a fun thing to watch when you think nothing is alive in your garden to see the little onion seedlings growing.  By planting them this way, you will for sure get a good crop of onions in time for use with salsa. Just be sure not to plant the seeds too close together. They are very hard to thin out. You cant just trim the leave away- they will just grow new ones. You have to actually pull out the onion and you might destroy the other ones near by. So by careful seed sowing, you can more easily thin them out when the time comes.
  3. Water and Soil. This is a given, but having a nice loamy soil with lots of organic matter, the onions will be able to grow nice and big. They also need consistent watering, spreading a nice mulch around them will help to keep the soil moist. They have a shallow root system and if left to dry out, it might stunt their growth. I like to put a soaker line around them for watering. This way the water can seep into the ground rather than flood it and run off to a lower spot to soak in.

I think you will find it a fun and rewarding experience to grow onions of any kind in your garden. They store so nicely too that you just might not need to buy any more onions again!! Check out our garden planner, and start planning your garden for spring- NOW!

Happy Gardening!

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