Although Onions are a varied group they are generally not difficult to grow. They do need to be planted at the right time of the year and can be grown from seed or seedlings. Growing from seed is usually the most reliable method as seedlings may have been grown on for to long before planting out.
You do need to read up on the requirements for specific varieties that will suit your climate zone to ensure success. However a few factors apply to all varieties. They do like a sweet soil, so some added lime will be beneficial. Onion seeds germinate at low temperatures and are best sown in winter.
Low nitrogen fertilisers are best, high nitrogen tends to produce soft onions that lack flavour.
You can onions from seedlings, however look for small seedlings for best results..
When to plant onions.
The planting time will depend on the type of onion and the climate zone. I warmer areas, you can plant early onions in February to March. In Sydney you can plant the early varieties in March and the mid season types in June. Further south, leave planting of all types to the traditional times.
Onions are traditionally planted in the cooler months, end of winter to spring and then grown through summer. So a cool start and hot finish.
This is really true for most of the varieties and related plants. If onions are planted earlier than June or July, or grown from seedlings that have been planted earlier they will usually go to seed. This caused by the plants growing through shortening hours of daylight into increasing hours of daylight. This tricks the plants into going to seed. To sow onion seeds directly after the shortest day of the year.
- Brown onions are the most common variety, used for cooking.
- White Onions are sweeter, stronger and juicier, good for roasting, stir fry dishes and in mexican cooking and casseroles.
- Red Onions have a nice red flesh, use for salads (raw) and for curries. They add great color to salads.
- Spanish Onions have a yellow flesh, mild and sweet. Great for french onion soup.
Pickling Onions are really just immature brown onions. Good for pickling but also can look good in casseroles.
- Shallots are a small onion also known as a eschalot. A lighter flavour.
- Green Onions (scallions) are a young onion with an unformed bulb that look like an overgrown chive.
- Spring Onions are similar to green onions, just a little older.
- Leeks are the great big onion with the thick stem, milder in flavour than onions. The stem is used in soups and pies, great with potatoes and cheese.
We are looking for:
- A deep humus rich soil, NOT lots of fertiliser unless you want small bulbs and lots of green foliage.
- A sunny position, yet moist, in shade the foliage will grow but not the bulb.
- Weed free, so prepare the area well before
- Plant away from peas and beans
- Sow seed directly in drills and thin out
- Water as needed, do not let the soil dry out
When the tops begin to dry out its time to harvest.