How to Plant and Grow Onions

Onions are one of the most loved vegetables in our home. Whether diced, caramelized or sauteed they are delicious in any dish, at any meal. Onions are also one of the easiest vegetables to grow in a garden, and with just a few simple steps you can learn how to plant and grow big, sweet onions in your garden.

Easy Steps to Growing Big, Sweet Onions

Onions are a very hardy vegetable that is almost impossible to kill. They can withstand some neglect and you can still end up with a good harvest of onions. I have always grown onions from sets, and in three or four months I will have full sized onions ready for harvest.

Onion sets look almost dead when purchased in sets but don’t be worried, they are simply dormant. If you can’t plant them immediately, take the bands off that hold the bundles together and lay them out. The onions can live off of their bulb for about three or four weeks. Store them in a cool, dry area until you are ready to plant them. Do not put them in soil or water.

When to Plant Onions

Onions are a cool weather crop and can be planted before the last frost date of the Spring season. Here in my area of Missouri, the frost date is April 15. Onions can be put in as early as the very first part of March. So, I am slightly behind when I would normally plant but we did have some really cold weather and snow early this month.

Where to Plant Onions

Onions require a lot of sun with good soil drainage. I built raised garden beds last year and found that my onions grew extremely well in raised beds. If you don’t have raised beds, then I would suggest planting onions in raised rows.

Soil Preparation for Onions

Onions need loose and crumbly soil to grow in. The bulb has to grow and expand so if the soil is compacted and hard, they will have a harder time growing. Knowing the pH of the garden soil is also important. Each year, I check the level of my vegetable garden soil. For onions to grow best they need a level of pH between 6.2 and 6.8. This year when I check the garden soil in my raised vegetable beds, I got 6.5 which is perfect for growing onions.

If your soil is too acidic, you can mix in limestone. If it’s too alkaline, you would add peat moss. Both of those items can be found at your local garden center.

Simple Tips To Growing Onions | YouTube Video

How to Plant Onions

The first thing I do when planting onions is to mix the soil around really well, removing large clumps of dirt, rocks and weeds. I dig down several inches making sure that the soil is loose and crumbly.

Onions need to be planted in a shallow hole, the soil needs to cover the roots and just the tip of the onion bulb. I space my onions about 4” apart and it rows that are about 10” to 12” apart. Don’t plant onions very deep.

Onion roots take a while to take hold in the soil. If you find that you have missing onions, it may be because the birds are plucking them out of the ground. A way to prevent this is to place netting over the top of the garden bed.

Watering Garden Onions

After planting onions, water thoroughly. Onions have a shallow root system, so don’t allow the soil to become dry and cracked. Onions need sufficient moisture during bulb formation and they may not look like they need water but they probably do. One way to see if your onions need water is to stick your finger in the soil. If you can feel moisture up to your first knuckle, then the onions are wet enough.

Onions will need more water, the closer they get to harvest time. However, once the tops start to fall over, stop watering the onions because the soil will need to dry out before harvesting the onions.

Weeding Around Onions

Weeds compete with light, moisture, and nutrients with the onions. I hand pull weeds each week but I find that since I grow in raised garden beds, I rarely have to pull a lot of weeds.

You can use mulch, like a light layer of straw to help control weeds and this will also help to preserve moisture. As the onions begin to bulb, remove the straw from the plants so that they will cure properly.

I love to garden and I hope that you enjoy my gardening posts. I know that everyone gardens differently and has a different way of doing things, but I enjoy sharing what works in my garden.

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