Planning to plant onions in fall? While most vegetables and fruits are being harvested now, you’re definitely on the right track for thinking of planting onions this season. It could be somewhat daunting at first, but I’m here to show you just how simple and satisfying it actually is. I’ll also let you in on which varieties and onion groups are perfect for planting in the fall season too. Read on to learn why you should plant onions this fall, and how you ought to do it.
Plant Onions In Fall With These Garden Season Tips
How To Plant Onions In Fall
Are you an onion fanatic like me? Is your steak topped with lots of onion strips? How about your salad, salsa, homemade pizza, and sandwiches? So what’s keeping you from growing some of your own now? Don’t be put off by attractive onions you see at the grocery store. You can actually grow better ones at home when you plant onions in fall.
Here’s how to finally cook your own dishes with your homegrown onions.
Choosing The Onion Variety To Plant
Onions are actually grouped into three categories, the long day, the short day and the intermediate. This is important to know since growing onions that are not well-suited in your area will yield inferior bulbs.
Long day onions, like hybrid copra, red wing, and walla-walla, are well suited for planting in the North. You can grow intermediate day onions, like candy and superstar, in the South during the fall season as they’re not daylight-length sensitive.
While short day onions, like the red coach, texas yellow granex, and white Bermuda, are the go-to bulbs for fall gardening. They’re well-suited for growing in the South–with USDA zone 7 or warmer.
Choosing The Method To Plant Onions In Fall
Onions can be grown from seeds, from sets, and from transplants, each with benefits and drawbacks. Planting onions from sets are ideal for fall gardening. Sets are immature onions especially harvested and dried to stop their growth for people like us who want to harvest sooner. Once they’re planted and have established in the soil, they’ll stay dormant in winter and come spring, there’ll be no stopping them.
Preparing The Soil
If you’ve grown potatoes in spring and have just harvested your crops this fall, then the cleared potato bed is your best bet for planting onions. By this time, your bed has become loose from the digging and clearing, which is ideal for planting onions in.
As with any bulb, a well-draining soil bed is important since bulbs are prone to rotting. A sandy soil with compost can work too. While a clay soil can be amended for growing onions.
Pick a location for your onion bed in areas where the sun can shine. Note that this is still the case even if you’re growing onions through the winter. The amount of daylight can affect the formation of the bulb. Here’s how to plant onions:
- When planting your onion sets, dig a trench first in your soil bed of 8 to 12 inches deep.
- Mix a well-aged compost into the soil you dug to form the trench, then shovel it back.
- You can plant your onion sets an inch deep in your prepared bed.
- Cover them back with soil until only the tips can be seen poking from the top.
- For regular short day sets, you can give a space of 4 to 5 inches between each plant.
- While some won’t bother with it, I recommend compacting the soil around your onions to hold them firm, and to prevent air pockets.
Taking Care Of Onion Plants
Onions are heavy feeders, so it would be wise to keep them weed-free. They have the tendency to compete with other onions for fertilizers or nutrients in your soil. These tips for onion plant care will help.
- An inch thick of fine straw mulch would do your onion bed a lot of good by keeping weeds at bay, and locking in moisture.
- You can start feeding when onion bulbs have started to form, which could be well in spring.
- You can begin natural fertilization twice a month.
- You can also use chemical fertilizers such as ammonium sulfate, but they can increase pungency in your onions.
- Remember that onions are prone to pests. One way to naturally protect them is by companion planting pest repellent plants near them.
- Go for cold-hardy broccoli as they fend off aphids.
- Another way to protect your plants is by using floating row covers or mini-high tunnels when the temperature starts getting cold.
Onion Harvest And Storage
What’s best with onions is you can use them at any stage in their growth. You can just clip the leaves anytime you want some for your recipe. However, keep in mind that onion sets are more prone to bolting or developing flowers from which onions seeds come from. For harvesting onion bulbs, check this guide:
- Onions are ready for harvest when the leaves have naturally wilted around your plants.
- Cure your onions first before storage, or let them dry in the sun for a few days.
- Only bring them indoors after a few hours.
- Some of your more successful onion bulbs should be stored in a cool dry place.
- Some varieties may not store well including those that bolted, so it would be ideal to consume them first.
This video from Brandon And Merideth has added tips and ideas for growing onions:
Growing bulb plants, including onions, is ideal in the fall season. Plant onions in fall to greet the coming spring with a good harvest of this favorite ingredient that spices up your dishes.
Ready to try this? Download this FREE printable and keep track of your plants easily.
Are you finally into growing your own onions now? I’m excited to know. Share your thoughts and feedback by leaving a comment below.
You can also check out more on vegetable gardening here.
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Featured image via agardenforthehouse