How to Grow Terrific Red Onions for Your Home Garden


harvesting and growing red onions in the home garden

Are you interested in growing a variety of vegetables in your garden? An easy and frequently used vegetable that you may grow around your home is the red onion.

I love red onions because they’re great in salads, on hamburgers, or used in various other dishes. If you’d like to enjoy this vegetable on a regular basis, consider growing it.

Even if you’re new to gardening, don’t shy away from red onions. I’ll walk you through what you should know to grow them.

Here’s how you can start growing red onions in your home garden:

Growing Conditions for Red Onions

Red onions are an interesting crop to grow. For starters, this vegetable is a biennial. This means it takes two years for the plant to complete its full cycle.

Therefore, in the first year the onions will grow foliage and small bulbs. In the second year, they’ll reach maturity and be good for harvest.

This is why many gardeners opt out of starting their onions from seeds and buy second-year bulbs to ensure they get an adequate harvest, but we’ll discuss this a little further in the next section.

For now, regardless of how you start your red onions you should ensure they have the right growing conditions.

Red onions aren’t fussy plants. Therefore, they only need a growing area with full sunlight. This should equate to approximately six hours of direct sunlight per day.

They also need well-draining, nutrient-dense soil. You also want your soil to be loose, so it’s easier for the bulb to grow.

In compacted, clay soil (for instance) your bulbs may have a hard time reaching their full potential. If you need to amend your soil, be sure to do so prior to planting.

This is all you should provide for onions. You may do this in traditional garden plots, raised beds, or even in containers. As long as the crop has the lighting and soil it needs, you should be able to start red onions on the right foot.

Now that you know what your onions need from you, let’s discuss how you can begin the growing process.

How to Plant Red Onions

There are two options for growing red onions. One is to start them from seed and the other is to start them from sets. Sets are second-year onion bulbs.

You should choose when you want to harvest your onions to select the appropriate method. However, the growing process is similar for either.

If you desire to start your onions indoors, be sure to do so approximately eight weeks prior to the final frost date.

Fill a growing tray or container with well-draining soil. Plant a seed in each cell of a growing tray or a set in a container.

Seeds should be planted a ¼ inch beneath the soil, while sets should be planted two inches into the soil in a deeper growing container.

Be sure to water the onions carefully to ensure the soil is saturated but the seed or set isn’t left in overly damp conditions which can lead to rot.

Onions will grow in temperatures that remain above 40-degrees Fahrenheit. However, the ideal growing temperature is around 75-degrees Fahrenheit.

Try to create ideal growing conditions to ensure the onions sprout in a timely manner. It should take between one to two weeks for the plants to begin to grow.

After all threat of frost is over, you may plant your onions outdoors. Be sure to amend the soil in the growing location as needed prior to planting.

If your soil needs loosening or more nutrients, it’s wise to add a couple inches of compost to the area and work it in.

Plus, you can add a slow-release fertilizer to ensure the onions have what they need throughout the growing season.

If you’re planting the onions in the ground, be sure to leave a foot of space between rows and six inches between plants.

Once the growing area is complete, plant each onion two inches into the soil. Backfill the hole with soil and apply water to the crops.

Onions need consistent moisture as this will give them a sweeter flavor over time. When the onions are in the ground, you’re well on your way to a divine harvest.

Caring for Red Onions

Are you feeling confident in growing onions, yet? If you haven’t noticed, they’re a rather low maintenance crop.

Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they don’t need much care after planting. To keep your onions healthy and growing, ensure they receive enough water, proper fertilizer, and an application of mulch.

When watering onions, it’s best to practice the deep watering method. This allows you to water the onions for a longer period of time, fewer days of the week.

This ensures that the onions receive enough water without oversaturating them. Before watering them again, be sure to test the soil. When you insert your finger into the dirt around the onions and it’s dry to your first knuckle, it’s time to water the plants deeply again.

It’s important that red onions receive an inch of water per week. You don’t want to overwater them, though, because this leads to issues with rot.

It’s also wise to water onions in the morning. If you water them at night, it could invite disease to your crop.

To ensure the onions retain enough moisture, and to keep the weeds under control, it’s wise to add a light layer of mulch around the plants. This will help the soil retain moisture and also make it difficult for weeds to grow.

Finally, ensure onions receive enough fertilizer. These plants love nitrogen, so be sure to apply a fertilizer high in nitrogen three weeks after planting.

From that point forward, continue to add a high-nitrogen fertilizer every three weeks. By supplying the few needs red onions have, you’re giving them every reason to thrive under your care.

Garden Pests and Diseases Which Might Impact Red Onions

The only tough part, in my opinion, to raising onions is protecting them. Some people assume that onions don’t face many hardships due to their scent.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Onions commonly face pests such as leaf miners, onion maggots, and mites.

When you spot a pest issue, it’s wise to treat it immediately with a pesticide to ensure you eradicate the problem before they have time to do further damage.

The most common diseases red onions face are pink roots and downy mildew. When pink root occurs, it’s due to a fungus in the soil.

You’ll only notice this disease if your onions begin looking sickly, and you dig them up to investigate. Once the onions are dug up, you’ll notice the roots are pink.

There is no cure for pink root. However, the disease may dampen your harvest, but it shouldn’t kill your plants all together.

Therefore, by providing plenty of nutrients and reducing the amount of water supplied to the onions, you may be able to salvage a smaller harvest.

The best way to beat pink root is by avoiding it all together. Be sure to rotate your onion crop to where it isn’t planted in the same space for six growing seasons.

When dealing with downy mildew, it’s best to apply a fungicide as soon as you notice the issue to avoid further damage to your plant.

These are a few of the threats red onions may face in your garden. Act quickly, and it shouldn’t be enough to kill your harvest.

How to Harvest Red Onions

The last step in growing red onions is understanding when and how to harvest them. If you’re interested in using onions for scallions, wait approximately one month to begin harvesting them.

However, if you’d like to have full-size onions, wait until the green tops turn yellow and fall over. When most of the tops are falling over, stop applying water to the onions.

At this point, you may dig up the onion bulbs to store them indoors, or you may leave them in the ground to store over winter.

Should you choose to harvest them, dig up the bulbs and shake off any loose dirt. Lay the harvested onions in a warm location that receives ample airflow.

You could lay them on a pallet in your garage, barn, or patio. They should remain in this location for ten days to cure.

Once done, you can braid the onions and hang them in a cool, dry location with temperatures between 35- and 50-degrees Fahrenheit.

However, you may also remove the tops and roots. From there, hang them in a breathable, mesh bag in a cool, dry location with the same temperatures as mentioned above. This could be a root cellar, basement, or dark corner in a pantry.

After your onions are safely stored, be sure to check them regularly to catch any rot that may form. Remove any rotting onions as quickly as possible to stop it from spreading.

Otherwise, enjoy your homegrown onions and continue to grow them each year for your enjoyment.

You now know the basics to growing red onions. These methods work for most varieties of onions, but red onions are some of my favorites due to their versatility.

Now that you know what to do, figure out where you can grow onions around your home and try your hand at it. This could be your new favorite crop to grow year after year.

More About Red Onions

https://extension.umn.edu/vegetables/growing-onions

https://extension.psu.edu/onion-production

The post How to Grow Terrific Red Onions for Your Home Garden appeared first on Gardening Channel.

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