I'm trying my luck with onions this year. I bought a bag of "red" onion
bulbs. The planting instructions give me three choices: red onions ,
green table onions, and dry onions. I think I understand the first two
choices, but I don't know what the third choice gets me. The directions
say to 'harvest when fully matured and air dry.' I'm having trouble
imagining an air dried onion.
Thanks Bill. I think the directions had me confused. That's what I
thought I was planting until I read the package. I don't know why they
differentiate between planting the 'red' onions and planting 'dry' onions.
The directions are harvest when fully mature and (after harvest) air
dry. I.e., you air dry your harvested onions.
I suggest that you wait until the tops fall over. This is a sign that
the onions are mature. When the onions are ready, they pull nutrients
from the tops into the bulbs and the tops fall over. Then, you pull
them out and lay them in a sheltered spot to dry. We string ours
together by the tops and hang from from the rafters in the garage for
a few weeks to a month. Then you can bring them inside.
An alternative to hanging them is to spread them out on a surface,
preferably with air holes. A fine screen suspended in air is ideal.
Onion boxes have slats spaced closely enough together to keep the
onions from falling out but wide enough to admit air.
The red onion bulbs.. I'm hoping were sets, about the diameter of a
dime? That's the recommended size, those being too much bigger may
just try to bolt and go to seed.
Technically they *are* dry onions. They're just small dry onions
planted the previous year late enough in the year that they would not
grow very large, and so would just go dormant, and grow the next year.
So they've been packaged sold, and you plant them in your garden,
poking into the ground up to the neck and soil firmed so just the tops
of the sets are visible.
Once they're up, you may have some too closely planted. You can thin
them out and use the thinnings as green onions aka scallions. Chop
them up and put them in your salad or wherever you want some green
onions. As the remaining onions grow, keep them well weeded, moist
but not soggy and they'll grow happily. If you notice them starting to
bolt.. grow a flower spike in the center that starts to shoot up,
twist that out.. and figure on using that plant for green onions.
AS the onions grow they get larger and larger and seem to be growing
above ground with just the roots in the soil and maybe a 1/3 of the
bulb. Ones I grew one year were nearly just sitting on top of the
soil by the time they were done.
Unfortunately there is an onion maggot that gets into them here, and I
think it's a fly that lays the eggs, but I'm not 100% sure, just like
the turnip maggot. I don't want to do diazanon drenches weekly in
order to grown them, so I figure I'd just as soon buy them as pour
that stuff on MY soil. They've already don that on THEIR soil. The
other option is to use floating row covers, but I'd have to open it up
to weed I figured, and that would give the flies access. However I
think I'd try it again now if I were able, by laying down several
layers of newspapers an cutting holes to put the onion set through,
and cover the whole thing with remay. The newspaper should keep the
soil damp to start with, and discourage the pigweed and grass
seedlings which are the majority of the weeds in my yard, and that
would decrease on the time I'd have to uncover the onions to weed.
There are potato or multiplier onions that are perennial that fill out
the season before onions are mature, and there are egyptian onions
whose tops are very sweet in the early spring. They get kind of hot
and woody as they prepare to shoot up and grow the little bulblettes
that grow on the tops. You can use the little bulblettes. They're
also called Walking onions as the bulblettes get heavy eventually and
the leave they're atop falls over.. planting their young the distance
of the length of the leaf that fell over. I've had "happy" plants get
3 to 4 feet tall, but that was back when I was hauling home literally
TONS of spoiled hay, horse manure and associated bedding, and steer
manure, anything I could get hold of free. One year I got enough
spoiled alfalfa to lay down over the whole yard a "leaf" or "flake" of
hay deep.. about 3 to 4 inches thick. The front yard was 30 x 35
feet, one section of the back was 70' x 25 and the other around 25 x
30 feet. That was a lot of hay. It was stacked in the driveway and
was about 5' tall and 9' wide and 15 or so feet long.. and wouldn't
you know it, there were a bunch of out of town insurance execs in town
and they chose *JUST* that time to drive by my house. Needless to say,
they canceled my insurance LOL. There was a dip in the roof they
didn't like too, and didn't like that I had some boarded up windows
(dark room ) and that hay. The dip was a cracked rafter. I got it
jacked up and fixed .. but found out that my old hovel has rough cut
2x4 rafters that aren't as close together as 2x6 ones should be.
*sigh* Oh well, been that way since 1944, guess they'll last as long
as I do. ;-)
Onions also make a nice ornamental with a long-lasting flower -- I've
seen shades of blue, pink, and white, with flower balls from an
average of 3"-4", up to 6" in diameter. They are perennials if given a
chance and will bloom every year. Plus the starving attack rabbits
don't eat them! This is a good use for onions that have gone tough
from long storage, or have grown too much of a top so the bulb is
going soft. You can collect the seeds for regular planting, too.
Blooming onions are the only thing I can get to grow in the full-sun
overheated ground behind my house, other than cauliflower (which
sadly attracts too many mice). Does make people wonder what kind of
nut the gardener is :)
Missed this part ... that must have been what we had in the garden
when I was a kid -- it was some random kitchen onion that had gotten
too "growthy" so we stuck it outside in the flower garden. It came up
every year, made a BIG blue flower ball, then a BIG clump of baby
onions, which we'd plant and use later on. This is really the kind I
wanted for my "onion flower garden" but didn't know the variety, so
thanks for the mention -- what would I look for specifically in a
On Sun, 02 May 2004 19:05:33 GMT, email@example.com (Rez)
The egyptian onions I have produce white flowers. Not sure what
exactly you're asking about as to what to look for in a seed variety.
There are all kinds of onions you can grow from seed. The only thing
I know of you need to look for are short or long day specific ..
depending on where you live. Now.. knowing which to get for where you
live.. that's another story ;-) I dunno. You get one if you live in
the south, and the other in the north. It's the day length that
triggers the onion to bulb up and go dormant I think. Think I read
something about it being day length more than temperature that makes
spinach bolt too, but not too sure about that one. ;-) What do you
want to grow? Where are you? south or north? At this point in the
year, I think you'd be better off buying started onions or at least
use sets, dime size or smaller or they'll try to go to seed...if they
do try to bolt, pinch out the seed spike. Cover them up with remay if
you have the onion maggot problem that I had.
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