How to Grow Onions:

Onion, growing onions, harvesting onions, how to preserve onions, home grown onions Bulbs from the onion family have been used for millennia. Onion remains have been uncovered, dating back as far as 5000 BC. We just don’t know if they were actually cultivated or simply gathered. Christopher Columbus introduced it to the Americas during his exploration. It is also recorded that they were planted as soon as the Pilgrim Fathers could clear the land in 1648. In the early 1600s, onions were used and prescribed by doctors to help with infertility in women. Now they are seen with many health benefits, including improving circulation, good cholesterol, and reducing inflammation.

Planting and Growing Onions:

There are a few ways to plant an onion. The most common is to plant from what is called a set. A set is a onion that was planted the year before from seed and grown very close together. They are harvested when the bulb is the size of a quarter. This is an easy method, but definitely not the best, because onions are biannual and bolt (produce seed in their second year). The set is a year old, so typically they will use their energy to produce seed resulting in small onions. To produce large, sweet tasting onions it is best to sow seed directly outdoors or from transplants. Transplants can be purchased at a local nursery or they can be started indoors from seed. Start Onion, onions in the Garden, growing onions, home grown onions, oranicly growing onions, starting your own onionsseeds indoors 8 weeks before last frost and transplant when they are about the size of a pencil. They can be transplanted as soon as soils can be worked, about 6 to 4 weeks before the last frost date. Space onions about 3-4 inches (8 to 10 cm) in rows, 8 inches (15 cm) apart. Their roots are quite shallow and they are susceptible to drought stress, so it is best to spread 3 inches (7 cm) of mulch after planting, to keep the soil from drying out too quickly. Onions do not compete well due to their shallow root system. Keep weeds under control and make sure to water deeply and often. Onion seeds can also be grown to produce green onions. To grow green onions sow seeds directly outdoors in early spring in rows 4 inches (10 cm) apart. Thin the seedlings with scissors or a sharp knife to 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart. Toss the thinned seedlings in a spring salad to give it bit of a kick. Scallions, or bunching onions, are another type of onion that can be grown like green onions as well. Scallions and green onions can be harvested as soon as they are big enough to use, or in as little as 50 days after sowing.

Harvesting and Preserving:

Bulb onions mature generally in 100-120 days. Onions are ready to harvest when the top falls over. Let the top fall over by itself. After pulled, leave them to sit in a dry spot for 2-3 weeks to cure. It is done when the outer layer is papery.
Prepare onions for storing by cutting the tops 3 inches (7 cm) off above the bulb. Another option is to brad the onions together and hang them. It’s not only practical, but also stylish. Onions should be stored in a dry, cool location. Use the bulbs that have soft spots or are beginning to sprout, first.
Onions can also be frozen. Chop the onion and package them in 1 cup portions into freezer bags. This ensures they are ready and easy to use when a recipe calls for them. If a recipe calls for only half an onion, chop the whole onion and freeze the unused portion for the next meal. Partially used onions should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer to keep it from drying out or sprouting.
Drying is also another option for preserving onions. Peel and dice the onion, then place in a dehydrator at 120 degrees F (50 degrees C) for 24-36 hours. Rotate and stir them occasionally until they are brittle and dry, and then place in an airtight container.

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