How to Grow Onions, Harvesting, and Preserving
From culinary to medical uses, onions have been used for thousands of years around the world. The oldest record of onions uses date back from 5000 BCE in China. Since then, onions can be found domesticated in nearly every country. In fact, there are no more wild onions left because humans have been planting it for a long time.
Not only its various uses, the easy principles in how to grow onions has definitely made the plant spread around the world. To start, you can grow onion plant from seeds or onion cells. But first, you may need to know which variety of onions you would want to grow.
1. Onions Variety and Its Use
There are several onion types that can be planted easily in your garden. Though basically each of them has a typical bulb, layers, and plants, some people prefer specific onions because of its taste or color.
This type of onion yields big bulb with a high percentage of single centers. It grows on early to mid-season and can be an excellent variety for exports.
Ruby onions have dark red color with a slight touch of pinkish white on its layers. It has a hard and firm bulb which makes the onion durable for long storage life.
This is one of the onion types that grow best on Eastern and Midwest part of the United States. It has a good tolerance towards heat, making it an excellent choice for cooking.
If you are looking for a tough onion with long storage life, Tucannon is the one to pick. It can be stored for six to eight months as long as its thick skin still intact.
Yukon onion plant grows mature in a relatively short time when transplanted. It has a large size of the bulb and tends to be easy to grow.
Although mostly onions are used in cuisines, there are also several popular uses of onions as a remedy. The allium contents of the onions have been known its benefit to prevent the spreading of cancer cells. It may also be due to a high amount of antioxidant and vitamin C in onions.
2. Planting onions around the House
As a biennial plant, onions basically live for two years each cycle. However, some farmers or gardeners choose to terminate the plant and grow another after one year or after harvesting. Before starting to plant the onions, you may need to do a soil and starter preparation.
- Soil Preparation
The ideal pH balance of the soil should be around 6.0 to 6.8. The nature and the nurture of the plant will then decide the success of the onion planting. The better it grows, the sweeter and stronger the onions will be. You may use a raised bed or a raised rows to give a perfect medium for the plant.
You may start growing onions from onions or from seeds. The onions seeds can be found at your local organic store. It usually has a distinct rectangular shape and has a deep black color. Some of the farmer’s stores also sell seedlings which are the small plant that has grown roots and stems.
If you choose to grow it from seedlings, you need to separate each seedling and plant it around 1 inch in depth. Make sure that all part of the roots is covered, but the higher neck of the stem is slightly above the ground. Make the holes in rows with a distance of 10 cm between each hole.
The roots of the onion plants are shallow, so they don’t have a high ability to absorb much water at the same time. Thus, you need to make a regular schedule of watering. The plant needs the soil to be moist to keep growing the bulb under the ground.
3. Troubleshooting Pests That May Grow on Onion plants
There are two main pests of onions: downy mildew and onion neck rot. Both of the problems are caused by fungi that grow on the stem of the plant. The downy mildew has a grey color and fluffy texture, while the onion neck rot has a grey color that will turn to black before destructing the plant.
When you see these colors, be sure to remove the affected leaves immediately. To avoid these pests, you may want to clear the soil from any weeds that may cover the planting area. Furthermore, you need to rest the soil from growing onions and create an interval between each planting season.
4. When to Harvest Home-Grown Onions?
If you are right on track of the season, your onions should be ready around late August to October. The sign that your onions are ready to be harvested is that the stem will slowly turn brown. To harvest it, bend the stem lightly to see that the onions under have begun to dry out. To make harvesting onions easier, loose the soil around before pulling it out.
Before starting to use the onion, make sure that you get rid of the dirt and keep it under the shed for a few days. This process has been proven essential to the development of the onion flavor. It is important for you to handle the onion carefully so that the papery skin would not come off.
5. Storage Life of Onions and Way to Preserve It
Onions can last up to two months at room temperature. Once you are sure the dirt is gone, you can braid the browned stem and hang it to store. Another way to do it is cut off the stem and put it in a basket or mesh. Pungent onions last longer than the sweet ones, so make sure you start consuming the sweet onions first before going on to the pungent ones.
Some households like to preserve onions by pickling it with vinegar, sugar, salt, or honey. Depending on your taste, pickled onions can be used in various dishes such as toppings for tacos, sandwiches, and salads.
With the many uses of onions and its long storage time, growing onions would give you many benefits. One of them is that you know really well how to grow onions organically and eliminate the possibility of buying chemical-grown onions.