The Q&A Archives: How to maintain onions

Question: I live in Greeley, CO. I am new to gardening and have had two gardens at various locations. I have planted onion starters and am enjoying green onions. I also would like large onions too. how do I maintain them and what am I watching for? ie when you watch your tomatoes and pinch the blossoms, the plant will fruit faster.

Answer: I don't know what kinds of onions you are growing. There are scallions, or green onions, that do not develop bulbs; they are used exclusively for green onions. And there bulb onions which you can use early as green onions, harvesting the remainder as delicious bulb onions. So if you're growing green onions, they won't produce bulbs. If you're growing bulb onions, they start growing the large bulbs we know as onions when the levels of daylight reach an appropriate level for them to start forming. The time that you plant the onions affects when they form bulbs. If you plant your onions too late in the season, they may not form bulbs properly. One important thing to remember about onions is that there are two different classes: long-day and short-day onions. Long-day onions are more appropriate for northern states because they are adapted to longer days. Southern states should use short-day varieties of onions. When you go to your nursery, they will usually list long-day onions as L and short-day onions as S. Short day onions develop bulbs with an average of about 12 hours of daylight. Long-day onions form bulbs with more sun, around 15-16 hours of daylight. You should grow the kind of onion appropriate for your region to ensure proper maturation of the onion bulbs.

Best wishes with your onions.

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