Harvesting Green Onions - Knowledgebase Question

LeRoy, IL
Question by ddthomas
April 25, 1999
I planted white onion sets close together to grow for green onions. I waited for them to grow to 6-8 inches tall as my sources all said. But when I went to pick them they had bulbs on the ends. Are these still the onion sets or are they on there way to growing bulbs? How can you tell when to pick green onions? Where do the onion sets go? As you can tell I am a complete novice at gardening! I was expecting to pull up green onions like I buy in the produce department of the grocery store. Thanks.

Answer from NGA
April 25, 1999


The plant uses the food stored in the bulb to get started growing. As you can imagine, the bulb stores much more food than a tiny seed can, so the plants can grow much more quickly. To get the bulb-less scallions like you get at the supermarket, you'll need to plant onion seeds. Started in early spring, they'll grow into the green onions, and, if left alone, will begin forming a bulb in the fall.

What you have harvested are essentially baby onions--but you can use them just like scallions, bulb and all. You can pick them all now, or thin them until they are spaced about 6" apart, using the thinned ones as scallions and allowing the others to mature into bulbs for fall harvesting.

By the way, welcome to the world of gardening. Aren't plants fascinating?

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