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How to Sow, Plant and Grow Onions Successfully in the Garden

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L.M.Reid is a gardener with lots of experience. She has published many gardening articles so you can learn how to grow lots of vegetables.

How to Grow Onions

All you need to know about planting, growing and harvesting onions. Onion sets are an easy crop to grow, take care of, and harvest, so they are a very good vegetable for first-time gardeners. I show you how to sow, plant and grow them with step-by-step instructions and my own photos. You can buy them 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.

When to Plant Onion Sets

As long as the weather is frost-free, you can plant in the spring. Here in Ireland that is 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.

How to plant and grow onions in the Garden,

How to plant and grow onions in the Garden,

Gardening Tips

They prefer a sunny spot that is well-drained. If you have a small garden, your other 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.

Planting Instructions

  1. Make a trench about two inches deep.
  2. Give it a good watering.
  3. The trenches should also be twelve inches or twenty five centimeters apart.
  4. Place the onion bulbs five inches or ten centimeters apart along the trench.
  5. Cover with soil, making sure to leave the small stem on each onion exposed.
  6. Push down the soil firmly around each bulb.
  7. 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.

Prepare a trench in the garden

Prepare a trench in the garden

Protecting the Onion Sets

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.

  1. As the weeks go by water and weed when necessary.
  2. Do not let them go dry as this will damage the bulbs and they will split.
  3. The leaves will grow first tall and then thick. They prefer the cooler weather.
  4. 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..

How to plant onion bulbs

How to plant onion bulbs

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 grow onions in your garden

How to grow onions in your garden

How to Store

How to Store your remaining crop

  1. Pull up all the onions that are left in the ground.
  2. Keep the leaves on and do not wash.
  3. 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.
  4. Turn them over after a few hours of sun.
  5. When they are dry you can clean them by carefully taking off any excess soil from the bulbs.
  6. Put them in a dry shed or storeroom for a week making sure they do not touch each other.
  7. Then you can keep them fresh by storing them correctly.
  8. Either tying the onions together by wrapping the leaves around a thick piece of string and hanging them in your shed.
  9. 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.

How to dry out and store onions

How to dry out and store onions

How to Grow Other Vegetables and Fruit

Check out my other guides on how to grow:

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


  1. Pour the flour, salt and pepper into a bowl
  2. and mix.
  3. Add the eggs and oil.
  4. Mix in well with a fork
  5. Gradually add in the milk making sure there are no lumps
  6. The batter mixture should be sticky but not too thick.

Preparing the Onions

  1. Cut and peel each onion
  2. Cut them into medium slices.
  3. Heat up the oil in the chip pan.
  4. Add a few rings to the batter mix.
  5. Put these into the hot oil.
  6. Cook until brown

The batter mix will also work well for other vegetables too.

Homemade Onion Rings

Homemade Onion Rings

How to Fry Onions

  1. I fry them with my homemade hamburgers, steak, and chops.
  2. Peel and chop up the onions to your preferred size.
  3. Add a small amount of oil to a pan and heat.
  4. Place them onto the pan and stir around to cover with the oil.
  5. Lower the heat and stir occasionally.
  6. I prefer my onions very well done so I leave them in the pan until very brown.
  7. Take them off the pan when you have them cooked to your taste.
  8. When I am cooking a burger I cook that first and remove from the pan.
  9. Then I cook the onions, and just before I remove them, I put the burger bag on top of the onions to heat up.
  10. Then I remove them both.
Burgers with Fried Onions

Burgers with Fried Onions

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Can I grow onions from a sprouted onion which I got from a supermarket?

Answer: No, the sprouted onion would not produce an an onion bulb that you can eat.


L M Reid (author) from Ireland on April 01, 2014:

Ah you should try to make a little room to plant onions BetterYourself because if you love shop bought onions these from your own garden will really be so much more tastier.

Thanks for the congrats

Better Yourself from North Carolina on March 28, 2014:

Well done with this hub, and congrats on HOTD! I LOVE onions but haven't tried growing my own yet and this was very helpful and hopefully I can incorporate them into my garden this year!

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on March 26, 2014:

rebeccamealey thank you so much for your kind comments.

If you have the room swilliams it is great to be able to pick your own onions from the garden. Thank you for your comments on the article, much appreciated

Manasi Kulkarni Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on March 26, 2014:

If you use a lot of onions in your cooking StephanieBCrosby then it is well worth the effort of growing your own. They really do taste so much better. Thanks for the congrats

sallybea Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment and votes

Hello bigfeet It is great that you and your girlfriend share a love of gardening. I appreciate that you enjoy my gardening articles too.

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on March 26, 2014:

RTalloni Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment and the congrats, much appreciated.

Hello prestonandkate I must admit I have never heard of anyone covering the onion bulbs with soil as they grow. I would imagine by doing this you are blocking them from the sun and therefore stopping the bulbs from growing to their full size. I would recommend that you leave them this year and see how much bigger they grow

Manasi Kulkarni on March 24, 2014:


swilliams on March 24, 2014:

What an insightful and beautiful Hub, I love onion especially Sauté onions with mushrooms. I look forward to trying to grow onions someday. Thanks for the information.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on March 24, 2014:

Thanks for putting together such an awesome guide for growing onions, and the recipes add such a nice touch! Well-deserved HOTD!

Marcus from California on March 24, 2014:

wow, i love your hub! you have great articles with pictures. My girlfriend and I are avid gardeners!

Sally Gulbrandsen from Norfolk on March 24, 2014:

vikon 305

Congratulations on your HOTD - very well deserved and very useful too.

Voted up

Stephanie Bradberry from New Jersey on March 24, 2014:

Congratulations on your Hub of the Day. It is well deserved.

I have always wanted to try growing onions. And I really cannot say why I have not given it a go yet. But maybe with my next garden I will. Thanks for all the fabulous information and insight :)

Preston and Kate from the Midwest on March 24, 2014:

Very useful. We have grown onions in our garden multiple times. Somewhere we learned to cover the bulbs as the onions grow. (Kind of like potato hills) Have you ever heard of doing that? Do you know the pros and cons? I'm curious if it is necessary or helpful...or best to just let the bulbs grow on top of the soil like your pictures show.

RTalloni on March 24, 2014:

Congrats on your Hub of the Day award for this neat look at growing and storing onions. Thanks for the tips and recipes, too!

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on March 24, 2014:

Thank you raymondphilippe for your kind comments

Growing vegetables is hard work but great fun too missolive. Good luck with your new container garden you will enjoy it.

It is amazing how many different vegetables can be grown successfully in pots and other containers Nadine May. Yes it is great that I love gardening and cooking and both activities compliment each other. Being able to cook the vegetables I grow myself is a pleasure.

Thank you all for the congrats on HOTD too, it is much appreciated.

Nadine May from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa on March 24, 2014:

Wow Congratulations indeed. Your hub is fantastic. Lots of information about growing food including great videos and not to mention the recipes. I'm a keen pot plant gardener since we live against a mountain, and water is a problem, but I'm now going to read more of your gardening hubs. Well done.

Marisa Hammond Olivares from Texas on March 24, 2014:

Congratulations on Hub of the Day! This hub is perfect timing for me, I have just embarked on clearing a section of my yard for growing veggies. Thank you for the tips, I look forward to reading your other gardening hubs as well.

Raymond Philippe from The Netherlands on March 24, 2014:

Very nicely done. And beautifully illustrated. Congrats on becoming HOTD.

L M Reid (author) from Ireland on March 24, 2014:

Planting onions even in a small garden is well worth the effort. I have never used the leaves of the onion in my cooking North Wind but I will give it a go this year.

I have a few chive plants in the garden and they are great for cutting off a few leaves and adding to salads. The chive has a beautiful purple flower too which makes it ideal to mix in with your flowers if space in the garden is an issue.

North Wind it is all trial and error in the garden for me. I do enjoy gardening so that helps with the work. Whatever mistakes I make this year are not repeated again lol. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

I am glad this article was helpful to you Thelma Alberts . Yes spending time gardening on a spring day really is amazing and then seeing the vegetables growing is great. Thank you for your kind comments Thelma much appreciated.

Thelma Alberts from Germany on March 24, 2014:

Congratulations on the HOTD award. You definitely deserve it. This hub comes handy to me as I´m fond of gardening. Thanks for sharing.

North Wind from The World (for now) on March 18, 2014:

I love onions and you explained the planting of them well. I have planted yellow onions before but I am going to try to plant Vivaldi onions next. I actually use the leaves of the onion while the onion is growing as a replacement for chive. It tastes extremely familiar and is good to chop up and sprinkle on rice, use in scrambled eggs or omelets etc. I am not as up to par with my gardening as you are but I hope someday I will get there.