Onions In The Fall Garden

by Polly

3784698498_d6ffb09f73_mFall garden is for onions. Why? Because they do better in the cool weather for harvest in late spring. The heat of summer is hard on onions, so the cool growing season works best.

But, the most compelling reason for home-grown onions, even in the fall, is the taste. A freshly pulled, quickly served, garden-grown onion is sweet and flavorful, every bit of it.

Onions demand a long growing season and are impervious to winter. These two qualities make these hardy vegetables ideal for planting in the garden at the same time as tulip and daffodil bulbs.

The varieties we grow at this time of the year, in the fall, are “multiplier” (potato) onions, shallots and Egyptian onions. And,

1326_1572_largePotato (“Multiplier)Onions

If planted in September, they can be harvested as soon as they get large enough. This usually begins in November (Thanksgiving onions) and continues through March.

They will start forming flower buds in March. If all are not eaten, they can be dug, dried in the sun for a few days, cleaned and stored in the shed for replanting in late summer.

These babies are so easy to grow and so necessary in the kitchen. Every gardener can grow multiplying onions in their own back yard or patio container. I’ve even grown them in big pots in a concrete backyard.

Fall planting can give significantly larger yields, often double or triple the yield of spring-planted bulbs. The trade-off is that fall- planted bulbs may be destroyed by freezing if you plant them improperly or fail to protect them.

After the ground has frozen, I generally mulch both my onions and garlic with additional compost. The compost will help in keeping the soil uniformly moist and in minimizing freezing and thawing around the plants. The mulch layer of compost will also help in feeding the plants in the spring.

Spring planting reduces the risk of freezing (and bolting in some varieties) but yields are significantly smaller. If you plant in both spring and fall, plant the largest bulbs in the fall and save the smallest bulbs for spring planting.

To plant, divide the clump into individual bulbs, and plant 2 to 3 inches deep l to allow for frost heaving) and 3 to 4 inches apart.  Allow 12 to 24 inches between rows.  Space 6 to 8 inches apart in both directions for wide row beds.

In spring the onion will send up leaves.   Be sure to remove any seed head that may want to form. A planting of large individual bulbs can produce as many as 10-12 bulbs per plant .

Purchase onion “sets” at your local garden center and get them planted as soon as possible. The onion “set” is broad at the base and pointed at the top. When planting, push the base of the “set” into the soil just far enough so that the pointed end is at or near the soil surface.

It is very important to note this because they do not fare well when planted upside down!

Once established in your garden, multiplier onions will improve in size and quality, and their bulbs can be replanted year after year.

Want to know more about growing onions ? Post a  question or a comment below, please. And,

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Yours truly for a great garden with berries,veggies and flowers.

Polly – Organic gardener

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Becky September 30, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Thanks for this great info. Looks like I need to run out and get some onion sets today while it’s still September. :) The ground doesn’t freeze here, though we do get an occasional frost… Should I still be mulching them?

Thanks for your great blog!

Polly September 30, 2009 at 7:01 pm

I would mulch them, just in case. Stay tuned to another, more detailed post about different onion varieties for fall planting

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