The Q&A Archives: planting onions

Question: Hello - I planted Walla Walla onions, this is my first attempt at growing onions. I know that the actual onion grows close to the surface, but am I supposed to see about 1/3 of the top of the onion? And, now that they're all about the size of a ping pong ball...should I move them to allow for bigger onions to grow? Should I have done it sooner, or is it too late now?

Thank you so much for your time.
I'm an avid reader of the Garden Club Newsletter!


Answer: It isn't unusual for the shoulders of the onions to be out of the ground at this stage in their development. You don't need to move them or cover them. Onions are shallow rooted and as the bulbs enlarge, they can push themselves up out of the soil, but the skins on the onions will protect the shoulders from sunburn. Just continue to give your onions good care and you'll be able to harvest them in late summer or early fall. By late August, the tops of onion plants will begin to lay over on the ground. Food made in the leaves will be stored in the onion bulbs. Do not water them at this point. When most of the tops are on the ground, lift the onions to break the bulbs from the roots. Leave the bulbs on the ground exactly as they were growing to cure them for storage and prevent sunburn. Bulbs will be ready for harvest in a week or two. Be sure to bring onions in before snow, rain or freezing temperatures. Cut off the tops when they are thoroughly dry. Store the bulbs in a burlap sack or an open crate in a dark area with temperatures as close to freezing as possible without actually freezing.

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