Thursday, September 19, 2013

Growing Onions and Garlic in the South ~ Part One: Onions

As you may know, I live in the South and that means that fall is the best time to plant onions, garlics, leeks, and shallots. I believe that no cottage garden is complete without at least one row of onions!

Lets begin with onions:

Feed the Soil, Not the Plant
"Raised beds are ideal for growing onions and garlic since they provide good drainage and can easily be amended by tilling 2”-3” of compost into the soil." (source: NC Cooperative Extension)

Onions need a soil pH of 6.0-6.5. (source: Clemson Cooperative Extension) Soil pH meters can be purchased at any hardware store, such as Lowes or Home Depot.

Onions also need plenty of moisture during their growing season to help your onions form nice bulbs.

The best thing is to submit a soil test to your local extension agent and add any lime or fertilizer according to your test results. Avoid giving onions to much nitrogen fertilizer. (source: Clemson Cooperative Extension)

Stay on top of any weeds, as they can force your onions to compete for need moisture and nutrients.

Crop rotation is very important when growing members of the Allium family such as: shallots, onions, garlic, and leeks. Do not replant these in the same spot for at about four years. Instead, plant a different vegetable there next year. This helps prevent soil born diseases.

Vintage Onion Seed Packet
Seeds, Sets, or Transplants
There are three ways to plant onions: seed, sets, or transplants. Onion seed is planted around Sept-Oct, directly into the ground 1/2 " to 3/4" inch deep. Onions seeds should be thinned so the remaining plants are spaced 3-4" inches apart (source: NC Cooperative Extension). The thinned out onions can be ate, just like a green onion.

 Onion Sets are smaller and immature bulbs, which are planted early in the spring and also in the fall. Onion sets and plants should be planted 3 inches apart to allow room for the bulb to grow.

Transplants should be about 6 inches high when planted. They should planted in Dec-Feb (source: Bulb Onion Production in Eastern North Carolina)  Plant transplants a little over and inch in the ground. Onion transplants should be dry when purchased and should NOT be placed in water before planting.

Bunching Onions:
The two best types of bunching onions are: 
  • Beltsville Bunching
  • Evergreen Bunching
 Bunching onions are designed to not produce bulbs. They can be reseeded until late October to ensure successive harvests. "Green onions can be ready for harvest in as little as 30-40 days from seeding." (source: NC Cooperative Extension)

Green onions can be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Harvest when tops are 6-8" tall. (source: Clemson Cooperative Extension)

How do you know which type of onion to plant?
"Onions are classed as long or short day varieties based on the number of hours of daylight required to make a bulb. Short day varieties set bulbs with about 12 hours of daylight." (source: Clemson Cooperative Extension)

"Regardless of when they are planted, varieties won't form bulbs until the days are long enough for them to do so." (source: Bulb Onion Production in Eastern North Carolina)

Short day onions are typically grown in fall in the south. Intermediate day onions can also be grown.

Short day onions do not store well.

The best short day onion varieties: 
  • Texas Supersweet (yellow onion)
  • Grano (yellow and red selections)
  • Granex (white onion)
  • Candy (white onion)
  • Stockton Sweet Red (red onion)
      (source: Clemson Cooperative Extension and NC Cooperative Extension Agency)

Harvest Time!
"Harvest bulb onions when about three‑fourths of the tops have fallen over. Remove tops by cutting 1 to 1½ inches above the top of the bulb. Thoroughly air-dry bulbs in a shaded area before storage." (source: Clemson Cooperative Extension).

"The tops of bulb onion plants fall over naturally once the bulbs have matured. When half of the tops in a planting have fallen over, lift all of the bulbs and place the pulled plants in a warm, dry place away from direct sunshine to cure." (source: Mother Earth News)

Vintage French Onion Seed Label


No comments:

Post a Comment

This site was made with ♥ by Angie Makes