How to Plant, Grow and Harvest Onions

Updated on May 9, 2018
viking305 profile image

L.M.Reid is an Irish writer who has published many articles. She is a keen gardener with plenty of experience.

How to Grow Onions
How to Grow Onions | Source

Growing Onions

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.

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.

How To Sow Onion Sets

Gardening Tips

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.

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 onions 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 onion.
  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.

Preparing the Soil

Trench for your Onions
Trench for your Onions | Source

Protecting Them

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.

Planting Onion Bulbs
Planting Onion Bulbs | Source

How to Harvest and Store Onions

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.

Onions Ready for Harvesting
Onions Ready for Harvesting | Source

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.

Drying Out Onions
Drying Out Onions | Source

Have you grown onions in your garden before

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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

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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 | Source

How to Make Onion Rings in 4 Ways

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 | Source

Questions & Answers

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      • viking305 profile image
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        L M Reid 4 years ago from Ireland

        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 profile image

        Better Yourself 4 years ago from North Carolina

        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!

      • viking305 profile image
        Author

        L M Reid 4 years ago from Ireland

        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

      • viking305 profile image
        Author

        L M Reid 4 years ago from Ireland

        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.

      • viking305 profile image
        Author

        L M Reid 4 years ago from Ireland

        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

      • profile image

        Manasi Kulkarni 4 years ago

        VERY INFORMATIVE. IT IS A ONE PLACE GUIDE FOR A PERSON WANTING TO KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT ONIONS. PICTURES WELL INCORPORATED

      • profile image

        swilliams 4 years ago

        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.

      • rebeccamealey profile image

        Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

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

      • bigfeet profile image

        Marcus 4 years ago from California

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

      • sallybea profile image

        Sally Gulbrandsen 4 years ago from Norfolk

        vikon 305

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

        Voted up

      • StephanieBCrosby profile image

        Stephanie Bradberry 4 years ago from New Jersey

        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 :)

      • prestonandkate profile image

        Preston and Kate 4 years ago from the Midwest

        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 profile image

        RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

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

      • viking305 profile image
        Author

        L M Reid 4 years ago from Ireland

        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 profile image

        Nadine May 4 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

        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.

      • missolive profile image

        Marisa Hammond Olivares 4 years ago from Texas

        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.

      • raymondphilippe profile image

        Raymond Philippe 4 years ago from The Netherlands

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

      • viking305 profile image
        Author

        L M Reid 4 years ago from Ireland

        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 profile image

        Thelma Alberts 4 years ago from Germany

        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 profile image

        North Wind 4 years ago from The World (for now)

        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.

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