Onions seed starting

Onions – Details on my 2015 Harvest

As regular readers know, I’ve been experimenting with growing onions from seed so that I won’t have to be dependent on Dixondale (or anyone else) for transplants.

Report on Onions from Seed

This past winter I started several varieties of sweet onions that would come in early. Early is usually synonymous with short day onions in my garden. They’re not for long term storage, but will store nicely for several months.

For their excellent storage potential I’d started Parma, Australian Brown and Redwing. (I’ve grown Redwing previously and it’s a great and hardy onion.)

Growing from seed is really easy unless I have problems with the weather cooperating after I put the newly germinated seedlings outside in January or February. (I have no space in my home to accommodate a light fixture that would allow seedlings to continue good growth inside.) This year, even though the seedlings were covered with row fabric AND my old cold frame, I lost all of them to the severe cold.

In the spring, although it was really too late, I started a smattering of seed again. I figured the worse that could happen was that I’d end up with the late-to-the-party transplants producing tiny bulbs that I could cure and plant again in the fall for spring onions by year end. (One of my favorite treats for a winter salad is including a fresh spring onion from the garden!)

Transplants – Problems,  Strategy and Varieties

Ordered just under 1,000 onion transplants from Dixondale. With the time it was taking to care for Bill, my usual order of 1,500 wasn’t possible.  I did manage to get the ones I ordered into the garden by mid-March.

The Problem Foreseen

I knew when I planted that I would probably have difficulty setting up a place for them to cure in June. (Bill does not yet have the strength needed to do it.)

First Variety to Mature – Texas Super Sweet 1015

In order to give myself at least a month of additional time before the curing screens were needed, I planted about 120 Texas Super Sweet 1015 that would come in first. Their storage potential is 2 or 3 months, but I harvested as I needed them each day and never had to worry about curing. The row is now empty.

Second Variety to Mature – Highland

Next to mature was Highlander, a new variety for me this year. When I ran out of Texas Super Sweets I started in on these. Many of the onions matured and the tops fell weeks before I had a place for them. (Usually I harvest within 1 or 2 days of the tops falling over and place them on the screens to cure.)

Being afraid I was going to lose a good part of the crop if I left them in the ground any longer (because of all the rain this year), I harvested and brought a couple of large flat baskets full to cure on my porch. (Cool and fan going 24/7.)

Although Highlander has the storage potential of 5 months, mine will be eaten long before then.

Most of the Highlanders are large. I like the smaller ones for day to day use and try to plant closer together to get them smaller, but many grow big anyway.

Most of the Highlanders are large. I like the smaller ones for day to day use and try to plant closer together to get them smaller, but many grow big anyway.

Last Variety to Mature – Copra

Copra is the onion I usually grow for long term storage through the fall and winter. Storage potential is 12 months, but we usually finishing eating them by January.

They’re the last to mature of the varieties I ordered. Only a few of the tops fell before the 4th week in June. Can’t say I wasn’t concerned when that happened. Especially with all the rain we’re having instead of our usual drought conditions.

A row of Copra Onions still standing straight on June 18th.

A row of Copra Onions still standing straight on June 18th.

Same row of Copra Onions as above photo, but the tops are starting to fall over on June 26th.

Same row of Copra Onions as above photo, but the tops are starting to fall over on June 26th.

A Friend to the Rescue

Fortunately, a friend who came over to bring us a few things from the store got to talking to Bill. The next thing I knew he was telling her what to move where and within an hour or so I had my curing screens up! Yeh!!

I harvested several hundred onions the next day. May have lost a few, but most look really good.

Final Thoughts

If you use and enjoy onions and don’t grow them – why not consider doing so.  They’re an easy and rewarding crop.  And like almost every thing, they taste sooooo much better when you grow your own.


Onion Posts – Additional Reading

How to Have Garden Onions April thru January

How to Grow Onions Especially Bigger Ones

Onions – Seed, Sets, and Transplants

Onions – Tip – What to do with the Small Ones

Onions Plants – A Bonus Can be Green onions in Winter

Onions – Why Grow A Lot?

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

Growing Onions – Determining When you Should Plant

Onions – Those to Enjoy as First Fruits and Those to Store

Growing Onions – Problem with Rot

Planting Onions – How to Keep Your Transplants Fresh Until you Plant


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  • Congratulations on getting your onions up on trays to cure. We had a long cool spring and in the last two weeks we finally have a garden that looks green and lush. Had a thunderstorm last night and the squash plants were covered with beautiful drops of water this morning and it all looked so fresh and pure. Just took the row cover off the green beans and they are starting to look healthy (2nd planting)………some are stunted from the cold, but they will catch up. Our growing season is short and will be even shorter this year. If it had not been for the “walls of water” I would not have been able to plant at all. Thanks to your teaching, our soil is good and well mulched. Hubby had a surgery last week, so I am on my own again this year, but it a blessing go be able to go out and pick fresh food to eat. I am grateful.

  • Sure good to hear from you Alice! Glad to know you’re getting fresh food to eat in spite of the weather and other difficulties.
    Hope your husband will soon be outside in the garden again and enjoying it first hand.
    Bill and I send all our best and warmest wishes to both of you!

  • I started 3 different onions from seed this year. Ruby Red Ring, Ring Master sweet spanish, Red burgundy. I planted them in the winter sown jugs on 1-19-15 and then planted them out in the garden on 4-12-15. Of course they are not ready yet. I am hopeful they will mature into delicious onions. I think I will also have some that will be sets for next year.

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