How to Grow Onions in the Garden (Plus Recipes)
When I grow onions, they do take up a lot of room in my vegetable patch, but the excellent taste is worth losing the space.
You can buy them to grow in your garden as sets, seeds, or plants. I prefer the sets myself. They take the least time to mature and are the best at keeping away disease.
They are an easy crop to grow, take care of, and harvest, so they a very good vegetable for first-time gardeners.
When to Plant Onion Sets
As long as the weather is frost-free, you can plant in the spring. Here in Ireland that is early March to early April.
You can buy a packet of onion sets from a garden centre, store.or online. These are the ones I bought this year. They are a lot cheaper if you buy online. As you can see from the photos I got a really good crop from them too.
They prefer a sunny spot that is well-drained. If you have a small garden, your vegetables may be planted in a sunny spot, so onions can grow in a shaded area with only a few hours of sun if need be. You can plant them in long rows or in smaller batches around the garden.
- Make a trench about two inches deep.
- Give it a good watering.
- The trenches should also be twelve inches or twenty five centimeters apart.
- Place the onions five inches or ten centimeters apart along the trench.
- Cover with soil, making sure to leave the small stem on each onion exposed.
- Push down the soil firmly around each onion.
- Add another spray of water.
It may look like you have too much space around each one, but they will grow very large, so it is needed. If you plant them too close together, they will end up touching each other, and will stop growing.
Preparing the Soil
This is the time they are most vulnerable to birds.
They see the green colored stems sticking up from the ground and see food.
Protect them with a light cover for about a week until the plants have time to establish firm roots. I used plastic rods bent over into the ground and some polythene sheets.
- As the weeks go by water and weed when necessary.
- Do not let them go dry as this will damage the bulbs and they will split.
- The leaves will grow first tall and then thick. They prefer the cooler weather.
- Once the hotter summer weather kicks in you will then see the bulbs start to grow larger.
Onion bulbs always grow on top of the soil. They will grow wider and larger as the weeks go by and you can see them grow and mature.
When to Harvest
During this growing period, you will will have onions of different sizes.
You can pick one or two as you need them in the kitchen. Pick the largest ones first.
The leaves will eventually go yellow and the tops start to wither. They will fall over forming a crease so that all the energy is left to grow the bulbs even bigger.
After a few weeks from then it will be time to lift the remaining onions from the ground. You will not want to cook them all at once so here is the method that will keep them fresh for a few months more.
How to Store
How to Store your remaining crop
- Pull up all the onions that are left in the ground.
- Keep the leaves on and do not wash.
- Put them in the sun for a few hours to dry either on the grass, a sheet as I have done or on a garden table.
- Turn them over after a few hours of sun.
- When they are dry you can clean them by carefully taking off any excess soil from the bulbs.
- Put them in a dry shed or storeroom for a week making sure they do not touch each other.
- Then you can keep them fresh by storing them correctly.
- Either tying the onions together by wrapping the leaves around a thick piece of string and hanging them in your shed.
- Or you can cut off the leaves and store them in a dry box.
Both methods work well, it is just a matter of how much space you have. Your onions will stay fresh for many months and ready to use when you want them.
Have you grown onions in your garden before
How to Cook Onions
We eat a lot of raw and cooked onions in our house so growing them in my small garden makes sense.
Here are a few recipes I use onions in and a sure proof way to cut and chop them without getting tears.
Onion Rings Recipe
These are very easy to make and freeze.
I know it is a cliché that home made food tastes better than shop bought but the saying really is true for these.
You can make them as thick or thin and as small or large as you wish.
They are a great way of using up a lot of onions in one go and because they freeze so well you can prepare as many as you like.
How to Make Onions Rings
- 2 cups of all purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup of milk
- 2 tablespoons of oil
- Salt, pepper or other seasoning
- 5 medium onions
- Oil for chip pan
- Pour the flour, salt and pepper into a bowl
- and mix.
- Add the eggs and oil.
- Mix in well with a fork
- Gradually add in the milk making sure there are no lumps
- The batter mixture should be sticky but not too thick.
Preparing the Onions
- Cut and peel each onion
- Cut them into medium slices.
- Heat up the oil in the chip pan.
- Add a few rings to the batter mix.
- Put these into the hot oil.
- Cook until brown
The batter mix will also work well for other vegetables too.
How to Cook Fried Onions
- I fry them with my homemade hamburgers, steak, and chops.
- Peel and chop up the onions to your preferred size.
- Add a small amount of oil to a pan and heat.
- Place them onto the pan and stir around to cover with the oil.
- Lower the heat and stir occasionally.
- I prefer my onions very well done so I leave them in the pan until very brown.
- Take them off the pan when you have them cooked to your taste.
- When I am cooking a burger I cook that first and remove from the pan.
- Then I cook the onions, and just before I remove them, I put the burger bag on top of the onions to heat up.
- Then I remove them both.