How to Grow Onions in your Backyard (A Beginner’s Guide)
If you love to make your meals with onions then it is a great idea to grow your own fresh onions in your backyard. In this article, you will learn how to grow onions step-by-step.
You will also learn about the different varieties of onion that you can easily grow in your small garden.
In addition, you will learn how to take care of the onion plant and how to harvest and properly store onions.
If you want to add more crops to your garden to complement your meals, then you may also like to read our articles that will teach you How to Grow Tomato and How to Grow Bell Peppers From Seeds.
Without further ado, let’s get to the detail of how to grow onions at home.
- Plant Type: Vegetable
- Sun Exposure: Full Sun
- Planting Soil pH: Neutral
- Botanical Name: Allium cepa
Onions are bulb plants that are part of the family: Allium.
It’s a cold season and hardy plants can withstand cool temperatures.
Onions come in different varieties ranging from sweet onions to red and yellow onions.
Onions are one of the Easy Vegetables To Grow All Year Round. Planting onions is very simple.
Many gardeners cultivate onions because it has a lot of benefits especially when it comes to companion planting.
Also, onions give both your flora and vegetable garden all-natural, organic defenses against pests and other effects.
What are the Recommended Varieties of Onion Plants Ideal to Grow?
Onions have 3 varieties that can be classified according to day length:
- Long-day varieties.
- Short-day varieties.
- Day-neutral varieties.
- Yellow Globe: store very well
- Aisa Craig’, ‘Walla Walla’: huge bulbs
- Yellow Sweet Spanish: large, round shape; yellow-white.
- ‘Red Florence’: produces bulbs with an oblong shape
- First Edition: high-yielding, stores well, flavorful, creamy-yellow
- Red Wethersfield: flat bulbs that store well, white flesh, red-skinned
- ‘Buffalo’, and ‘Norstar’: produce crops quickly, but don’t keep very long after harvesting
- ‘Copra’, ‘Southport Red Globe’, ‘Sweet Sandwich’,
- ‘Hybrid Yellow Granex’: sweet, Vidalia type
- ‘Southern Belle’: ruby-color flesh and skin
- ‘Texas 1015-Y Supersweet’: stores very well
- ‘Stuttgarter’: sold in sets, early maturity with a slightly flat shape, yellow
- ‘White Bermuda’: extremely mild, with thick, flat bulbs; white
- ‘Red Burgundy’: good table onion with mild, sweet white flesh, red-skinned
- ‘Crystal Wax White Bermuda’: a great onion for pickling when harvested at “pearl” size
- ‘Candy’: golden, thick flesh; jumbo bulbs; stores well
- ‘Red Stockton’: large, red-ringed, white-flesh bulbs
- ‘Super Star’: large, sweet, white bulbs
Should I Grow Onions from Seed or from Sets?
Gardeners seeking information on how to grow onions usually want to know if it’s best to grow from seed or from sets or transplants.
Although this decision is person-specific, we do know that many farmers prefer to grow onions from sets.
This is so because onion sets are easy to get and they establish quickly. It takes about 3½ months for them to develop into a full-size bulb.
Also, onion sets have a higher success rate than planting from onion seeds or transplants.
This does not say that starting onions from seed is not doable.
Some areas prefer to sow onion from seeds. However, if you’re starting onions from seeds, start them indoors about 6 weeks before you plan to transplant them to the garden.
It largely depends on your preference as a gardener.
When Is The Ideal Time to Plant Onions?
One of the Garden Tricks and Tips For Beginners is knowing the best time to plant which crop.
The nature of a plant determines when to plant the crop to let them flourish and bloom with the weather unless you want to adopt Indoor Vegetable Gardening.
The same protocol applies to growing onions.
Onions are a cool-season plant, therefore the best time to plant onions is in cool weather conditions.
It’s usually ideal if you plant onions in the fall in milder climates.
Step-by-step Guide on How to Grow Onions
Growing onion plants can be interesting because you can grow them from seeds, transplants, or plant onion sets.
Whichever way you choose to grow your onion garden, the steps we have provided below will guide you to plant your onion garden from scratch to harvest even unto storage.
To grow your onion plants, here’s what to do;
#1. Prepare the Onion Seedlings.
Onion seeds take more time to germinate. Therefore, you have to grow your seeds indoors first.
Here’s how to prepare your onion seeds for planting;
- Start by filling your planting tray or container if you want to grow your onions in pots with moist soil.
- Then dig furrows like half an inch deep to sow your seedlings.
- Once sown, cover the seeds lightly with soil.
- Ensure to keep the temperature around 60-70°F to keep the onion seeds warm.
Your onion seeds are sown ready to germinate.
#2. Transplant the Germinated Seeds into the Garden.
If you grow your plants indoors in a pot, there is no need to transplant them.
However, if you intend to grow your onion bulbs in a garden, then it’s time to transplant them.
Your onion seedlings are ready for transplant when they are about a few days to a few weeks after planting.
How do you do this?
- Dig holes about 2 inches deep and 4-5 inches apart for your onion transplants.
- Make rows that are 12-18 inches apart.
- Then transplant.
#3. Plant Companion Plants Alongside Your Onion Transplant.
One of the best ways to grow onion is to grow it alongside some companion plants such as cabbage, tomatoes, leeks, and carrots.
With the presence of good companions, they help other plants nearby to bring in beneficial insects and other organic defenses.
#4. It’s Time to Add Mulch.
Mulching is known to be beneficial in the agricultural space.
Laying mulch or any other organic matter between your onion rows helps to smother weeds.
Also, mulching helps the soil retain some moisture, lessening the amount of watering you need.
How Do I Care for Onion Plants As They Grow?
Just like any other plant, lack of care and attention is the only requirement that will either kill them or make them very unproductive.
However, the opposite leaves them luscious with a massive harvest.
Plants such as onions, though simple to grow, require a little maintenance.
Here are some tips to properly care for your onions:
#1. Adequately Fertilize Them.
For the record, onions require more nitrogen than most other plants.
Therefore it is recommended to fertilize the onion plants with fertilizers or compost rich in nitrogen every few weeks.
This helps the bulbs grow nice and big.
#2. Let Them Breathe: Give the Onion Plant Some Space.
When the bulbs of the onion plants start to form, they will emerge above the soil.
That’s the advantage of growing onions in loose soil. Loose soil helps prevent maggots which thrive well in moist soil.
Also, ensure that the soil or your raised bed has good drainage capabilities as well.
Now once the bulbs emerge above the ground, don’t be clever to cover them up.
Let them breathe!!!
#3. Adequately Water the Onion Plant.
Depending on the variety of onions, the watering schedule will be slightly different.
Onion plants require about an inch of water per week. However, for sweeter onions, you will water them a bit more.
On the contrary, you will not need to water the onion plants much if you choose to lay mulch between your onion rows.
#4. Ensure The Onion Plants Get Enough Sun.
One of the tips to grow your onion plants adequately is to keep them away from shades.
Onions should get full sun, especially direct sunlight.
#5. Check Them For Pests.
Most gardeners use onion as a companion plant to ward off pests and other detrimental effects on other plants.
However, onion plants are susceptible to their own pests which they naturally cannot ward off.
That’s where you the gardener come in.
You need to constantly check them for pests such as Thrips and onion maggots.
Thrips feed on the onion leaves which the plants use more like green onions/scallions.
The onion maggots on the other hand dig through the onion roots when they lay eggs, thus totally destroying the plant.
Whether thrips or maggots, none is good for the plant. You have to get rid of them
An insecticide is a useful input to keep thrips away whereas a mesh netting over your growing crops can help prevent egg-laying at the base.
Also, you can use parasitic nematodes dill, ginger, ground cayenne, or chili powder to use as a repellent against the female maggots.
Adopting these steps, you can grow and care for your onion adequately and have a massive luscious bulb harvest.
When Should I Harvest My Onions?
The ideal time to harvest mature onions is before the weather turns cool.
Although onions grow in very cool conditions, when they mature, they can spoil.
At such time, the top of the onions will turn yellow and fall over when they approach their final ripening stage.
So it’s best to harvest them once they are mature.
So how should the onion bulbs be harvested?
How to Harvest And Store Onions
It’s one thing to grow onion plants and it’s another thing to know how to harvest them.
When harvesting onions, ensure you harvest only the mature ones.
You can identify a mature onion via its brown top crowning its head through the soil.
Also, onions that have sprouted flower stalks are already mature and should be harvested.
How do you harvest onions?
All you have to do to harvest it is to pull it directly from the ground.
Once you are done with the harvest, store the onions in a cool, dark, dry place.
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Grow Onion.
How Best Can I Grow My Onion Bulbs?
Onions are best grown on raised beds or raised rows at least 4 inches high.
Also, onions grow well when you plant them in a mix of white, yellow, and red.
Which Soil is Best to Grow Onion Plants?
In our article “How To Prepare The Soil For Planting Vegetables” we x-rayed how to set the soil before planting your crops.
The soil ideal to plant onions is well-drained, loose, and fertile soil.
A compacted, rocky, or clay-heavy soil will affect bulb development.
If your garden area is compacted or has heavy clay or hard soil, just add in aged compost to loosen the soil texture.
How Often Should I Fertilize My Onion Plants?
Onion plants are heavy feeders and what this means is that they need constant nourishment to produce big bulbs.
So as much as you can, fertilize the plants.
What is the Adequate Spacing For Onion Sets?
Onion sets are best planted 2 to 6 inches apart.
However, larger transplants should be spaced 4 to 5 inches apart in rows 12 to 18 inches apart.
Can I Plant a Sprouted Onion?
Yes, you can plant a sprouted onion.
Here’s how to do it:
- Fill a pot with potting soil and make a hole in the middle that is about the depth and width of the onion.
- Place the onion in the hole and cover it with soil.
- Water and put the pot in a sunny spot.
- Harvest the green sprouts as needed for cooking.
- If you get a sprout with a flower, wait until the flower goes to seed. Save the seeds for planting in the spring.
It’s easy to grow onion plants from seeds, transplants, or sets.
Whichever way you choose, follow. the guide as we stated above and have yourself a luscious onion garden.
Have you tried planting onions?
Share with us in the comment section the hindrances you faced.
How much do you think it would cost for seedlings of onions.
That would be about N15,000 only. Send an email to [email protected] for details.