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Onions – Why Grow a Lot?

My answer would be because onions are one of the easiest and best investments on the planet!  There’s hardly any work involved and the effort that is required is minimal.

Onions are easy to keep.  And it’s pretty hard to beat the price.  Mine average out to about 6 to 10 cents a piece if they’re from transplants and about a penny or two a piece if they’re from seed.  No way you’re gonna get that price in the super market. And you can’t get the same quality and taste of home grown onions at any price in a store.

I grow a variety of onions.

Allow me to further elaborate on the ease of onion growing:

When you garden like I do you don’t have to prepare beds —they’re already prepared under the mulch.

You don’t have to fertilize ——- organic matter is already there.

But  more than 1500 onions?!

So you say you can’t imagine planting 1500 onions or more.  All I can say is —–neither can I! (All at one time anyway.)

I order my onions in two batches. I get about 700 in February (or sooner if the weather is good) and about 800 in March.  I open the package, take the band off the bundles and spread them out in a flat box and put them in the garage. Onions will keep up to 3 or 4 weeks this way if you run into a weather problem.

Weather allowing I spend about 30 minutes everyday planting onions.  That’s about 100 or more onions per day.  At the end of the first batch (about 7 days) I forget about them until the next batch arrives.  Then I repeat the process.

No, I don’t want to Weed

And of course I don’t want to weed either, so I sprinkle straw and/or leaf mulch on my onions after they’re planted.  As they grow — add more.  Mulch keeps the weeds from growing.

The only reason I even give them a thought after planting is because I can hardly wait to start eating them. When they’re scallion size I start pulling 3 for lunch and sometimes 3 for dinner. (Time wise – that’s about 15 seconds to pull them.)

Onions are good at any stage of growth.

Four to five months later they start maturing.  I’ve done no work at all up to this point except to pull and eat.

I Don’t Water Either!

Yes, that’s right —–I don’t water either.   “But onions need an inch of rain a week!” you say.  Well — when I started growing onions, I also read that.  I said to myself, “I’m not set up for watering and I cant’ do that. So I’ll see.”  Here I am 33 years later and have never watered my onion crop.  They are one of my most successful crops!

Harvesting

In June when they start maturing (the tops fall over), I start harvesting.  I’ll pull whatever is ready each day. Usually it amounts to 12 to 30 onions a day or every other day.  It takes about 5 or 10 minutes to pull them.  When I leave the garden I walk over to the screens I have set up for them with a shade canopy and place them on it.  Another 10 minutes at most. (The maturing goes on for about 6 weeks in my garden.)

As they Cure

As the weeks go on and the onions on the screen fully dry, I collect them gently in a basket, take them to the back steps, sit down, and proceed to cut the roots and tops.  I usually end up with about 3 or 4 sessions like this (remember I have 1500 onions) that last for a little more than 1 hour each.  This is the most work I do for my 1500 onions.

Another 5 minutes of “work”

Oh – one more thing —- I do spend about 5 minutes every 3 weeks or so during the winter to check my onions to make sure none are going bad.

Did I always plant 1500 or more onions?

No.  I started out with about 300 onion sets each year. (It took a while to learn that transplants make the best onions.) Why did I increase the number?   Because I ran out of onions and store-boughts don’t taste good.

Bottom Line

When I found out how easy onions were and how little work is involved — not to mention that you can’t buy onions like garden-growns —- there was no reason not to grow more.

Given time — you might find the same thing to be true.

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Related Posts:

Onions – Starting from Seed is Easy and Economical

Onion Sets – What You Need to Know to Get Better Results

Growing Onions

Bunching Onions – A Perennial Scallion Patch

Onions – More Reasons to Plant

How to Have Garden Onions April thru January

Onion Trivia

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Organic gardening is easy, efficient, effective and —- a lot healthier!

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All content including pictures is copyrighted by TendingMyGarden.com.

 

14 comments to Onions – Why Grow a Lot?

  • Sandra

    Theresa, I have all but given up on onions. I will read your other onion posts with interest. Sandra

  • Theresa

    Sandra! Please don’t give up on onions! If you can’t find the answer to your problem in the other posts I have written, but all means feel free to email me (Theresa@tendingmygarden.com) and lets discuss the details. Onions are one of the easiest crops you can possibly grow. I feel sure it must be something very simple keeping you from success.

    After you read the other posts, let me know more particulars.
    Theresa

  • gayle

    Giving onions another try this year–using your method. Thanks!

    I’m wondering. Do you ever grow leeks? Have you ever had a perennial bed of leeks?

  • Theresa

    Hi Gayle,
    Glad you’re going to give onions another try. They’re worth it. Keep me posted and let me know if I can be of any help along the way.
    For some reason, leeks have never appealed to me. The closest I’ve come to a perennial bed of leeks is starting a perennial bed of bunching onions — which I started last year and have eaten all but one of the entire lot — except one to keep it growing. 🙂
    This year, I started a lot of bunching onions from seed and plan to have them everywhere! Just another thing to insure that I’ll have onions all year.
    If you start the bed of leeks, let me know how you do. I might just have to try them one of these days!
    Good hearing from you, Gayle.
    Theresa

  • Sue

    Hi Theresa,

    I am going to be planting my onion transplants tomorrow. Would you please tell me how you space them?

    Does your spacing allow them to get as large as they can?

    Can I use shredded mulch to cover mine instead of straw?

    Thank you kindly, Sue

  • Theresa

    Sue, plant 6 inches apart if you want to be on the safe side. I’m going to leave at least 4 inches when I plant the ones grown from seed — but I don’t care for really big onions. I usually leave about 3 inches between my transplants. You’ll do better to leave 6 inches since this will be new for you — and then you can see how they do.

    Super Sweets and Copras — generally speaking are medium sized onions although they can get large on occasion.

    I’m not sure what you are using as “shredded mulch” —- but most any mulch would be ok. It’s not really necessary to use just straw.
    To be on the safe side — just let me know what you’re using and I’ll get back to you.
    Theresa

  • Sue

    Thank you, Theresa. We get tree mulch that has been shredded. I guess it is pine and hardwoods. We age it to the point it is starting to turn to dirt before we use it.

  • Theresa

    Excellent Sue! I used to have access to that kind of mulch and it was without doubt THE BEST mulch I’ve every used!!
    The secret may be in the aging.
    Good luck with your onions! Keep me posted.
    Theresa

  • Millard Waltz

    Right now I have begun transplanting several hundred little leek plants I had sown in June. I find growing leeks easier than onions because there’s always a problem of curing the onions during July when it rains every day here along the North Sea. Whenever the meteorologist predicts a rainy spell in August, I try to get 100-200 plants in their beds. Using a large pipe I punch 6 inch-deep holes along a row, drop the leeks in their holes and pour a little water afterwards. Because of the leek moth in northwest Europe we have to use the “insect protection nets” from the Neudorfer Co. There are so many delicious recipes requiring leeks that they are a must in any garden in our climate.

  • Theresa

    Great information Millard. Thanks so much for posting!
    This is the first year EVER I’ve had to be concerned about it being rainy and wet when onions are curing.
    Your comment really makes me want to try leeks.
    Again — thank you!
    And best of luck with the remainder of the growing season.
    Theresa

  • Cindy Strotkamp

    Theresa,

    I have been reading the posts on onions and I am really excited to try my hand at starting them from seed. I have two questions. How dep do you plant the seedlings? And how and where do you store all those onions??

    Thank you!

    Cindy

  • Theresa

    Cindy, I usually sow the seed on top of the grow mix and then cover with another handful of grow mix sprinkled on top. It’s probably ends up being about 1/4 inch deep.
    You can read every detail of how and where I store my onions in this post http://tendingmygarden.com/how-to-have-garden-onions-april-thru-january/ (lots of pictures too)
    Onions are easy! I know you’ll do great!
    Theresa

  • Cindy Strotkamp

    Theresa,

    Thanks for the link! It answered all my questions on storage. I still haven’t found the post that will tell me how deep to plant the onions in the garden. Sorry for the many questions.

    Thank you!

    Cindy

  • Theresa

    Here’s the post you’re looking for Cindy. http://tendingmygarden.com/growing-onions/
    Let me know if you have more questions.
    Theresa

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