Planting onions this year has been an experiment to say the least. We eat a lot of onions at our house... I think I could safely say that almost every meal includes an onion of some sort. For the last several years I have increased the number of onions we grow in the garden and have managed to keep them stored in the basement for when I need them. We are down to about five onions from last year's garden, so I am getting anxious to start planting!
The normal plan of attack in planting onions on our farm is twofold: onion sets and onion bulbs. Normally, I buy Walla Walla Sweet onion sets at the hardware store. I also typically buy onion bulbs at the local nursery making sure to pick a variety of white, yellow and reds. This year I did both of those things, but I also decided to start onions from SEED. Crazy right? It actually has been a fairly simple process and I am eager to see how things work out.
The process started out in February this year by planting two varieties of onion seeds in seed trays. We use a great deal of yellow and red onions, so I chose those for this little experiment. Until yesterday, all I have done is water the seedlings and keep the tops short by "giving them a haircut" every so often to help build up the roots. This literally means I take a pair of scissors every few weeks and trim them to no longer than three inches long. I have also been working to prepare them for living outside by "hardening them off" for a few hours each day. I take five minutes each day to move plants in and out of the greenhouse to be sure they are not shocked by their sudden life outside in the elements.
Yesterday I methodically removed each of the onion starts out of their trays and carefully shuffled them to their new home in the garden. They serve as terrific borders for the beds and are companions with most plants. I dug trenches with my hand trowel and carefully placed the onion starts along the border. I planted them closer than the normal recommended spacing because I know I will be thinning them out as the season goes along as green onions. I will carefully harvest them as I need them in the kitchen so that the remaining plants have adequate spacing to grow to full size by harvest time.