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ATP Podcast #105: All About Onions

By dave
February 13, 2017

How do you grow onions? What varieties should you grow? How do you care for them, harvest them, cure them, etc? In today's episode we cover all things onions.

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Name: Rob Duval
Mason, New Hampshire (Zone 5b)
Region: New Hampshire Vegetable Grower Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Level 1 Tomato Heads
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robertduval14
Feb 18, 2017 12:05 PM CST

Plants Admin

My wife and I just love onions and use a LOT of them in our cooking, but I have got to say, growing them has proven to be a bit of a challenge for us. I've only grown from sets so far (Never tried growing them from seed) and not sure I'm in any rush to make that jump yet. I do manage to get onions when I grow them, but they are always much smaller than I would hope for. Perhaps I'm just not getting them in early enough? I dunno, but I'm not giving up on them any time soon, simply because we like them enough for it to be worth any extra effort I may have to put in.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
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dave
Feb 18, 2017 12:20 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Which varieties do you grow Rob?
Name: Rob Duval
Mason, New Hampshire (Zone 5b)
Region: New Hampshire Vegetable Grower Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Level 1 Tomato Heads
Annuals Hostas Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Spiders! Dog Lover Region: Northeast US
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robertduval14
Feb 18, 2017 12:44 PM CST

Plants Admin

I'd have to look it up in my plant list here on the site. To be honest though, I've never gave a ton of thought to variety and would just get sets offered at a local farm stand. They are types that they grow (or so they claim) on the local farms, so I'd assumed they would grow well for me also.

Being that I'm in southern New Hampshire, and you are in Texas. I imagine the varieties that work well for you would likely not work well for me. I don't know what you see out your window these days, but here I'm looking at 2 feet of snow cover.


**edit to show some of the cultivars I have tried**

Not a complete list, since I know I've tried lots more than 3 types, but these were in my list so I know I've tried these at least once...
Onion (Allium cepa 'Red Baron')
Garden Onion (Allium cepa 'Snowball')
Onion (Allium cepa 'Stuttgarter')
[Last edited by robertduval14 - Feb 18, 2017 12:49 PM (+)]
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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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dave
Feb 18, 2017 6:10 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

I ask because I was going to make sure you were growing long-day varieties. Smiling We only grow the short day ones down here. Our sandy soil produces onions effortlessly!
Name: Rob Duval
Mason, New Hampshire (Zone 5b)
Region: New Hampshire Vegetable Grower Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Ideas: Level 1 Tomato Heads
Annuals Hostas Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge) Spiders! Dog Lover Region: Northeast US
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robertduval14
Feb 18, 2017 7:32 PM CST

Plants Admin

Do we even have a data field on our database's onion listings for showing if they are long or short day types? I've never noticed if there was and it seems that info can be a bit of a pita to find online sometimes.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Region: Texas Million Pollinator Garden Challenge Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Permaculture Raises cows
Beekeeper Vermiculture Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages Plant Identifier Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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dave
Feb 18, 2017 8:18 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

We do not, actually, and I was thinking we should add it.
Name: Eddie
Clemson,SC
EddieG
Feb 22, 2017 8:03 AM CST
I live in the NW corner of South Carolina and the soil is clay. I have better luck growing large size onions from plants than I do with the sets; however, it might be that the season has something to do with it since I use plants in the spring and sets in the fall. I begin like everyone by planting the onion plant about 1 inch in the soil but when the bulb starts forming I pull away the soil from around the bulb so that the bulb is completely out of the soil and only the roots are in the soil. This process allows the bulb to expand without the confinement of the soil.
I have stopped planting onions in the fall since over the winter here the weather changes from warm to cold repeatedly and the bulbs get tricked into thinking it has been two years and bolt. This pretty much ruins the onion for me.
Name: Horseshoe Griffin
Efland, NC (Zone 7a)
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Horseshoe
Feb 22, 2017 1:51 PM CST
Same here, Eddie. I still plant sets in the fall and plants in late winter. The sets will always bolt early because they are in their second stage of growth, the reproductive stage, and want to make seed. Unless you grow your own sets the ones you buy from garden centers/farm stores are usually imported, often from Holland. I grow them because they make the best green onions and, more importantly, frying onions (cooked as you would cook greens.) Yummy!

I also find there is a much bigger variety to choose from when you grow plants, either from seed or from another source. And yes, I highly recommend Dixondale Farm in Texas for fantastic plants and cultivars. Glad you referenced them, dave!

Rob, if you're growing from sets you wont get large onions. If you're growing from plants it may be you need to bump up the phosphorus as it makes for a larger happier onion. And of course, ample sun and water.

Happy onion growing!
Shoe (who just received his onion plants in the mail today.)

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