How to Grow Onions

No matter how much one loves cooking, there are some things that make one feel like crying when asked to do it. Chopping onions is one of those tasks! (LITERALLY) But, never the less, onions were and will remain an important ingredient in almost everything you cook.

With this article, we will come to know about this wonderful vegetable which has the power to make you teary-eyed with a stroke of a knife.

NOTE: You can buy onion seeds online at the GreenMyLife store – many varieties with high germination rates available.

Science corner:

Common Name: Bulb Onion or Common Onion

Indian Names: Pyaaz (Hindi), Irulli (Kannada), Vengaayam (Tamil)

Botanical Name: Allium cepa

Vegetable Type: Onions belong to the Alliaceae family. Other vegetables that belong to this family are leeks, garlic, chives, etc.

Varieties: The few main strains of Onion are Japanese bunched onion, Egyptian onion, and the Canada onion. The some popular varieties are Vidalia, Yellow Sweet Spanish, Stuttgarter, etc.

Onion cuisine
Onion cuisine

Teary Fact:

The reasons tears start to pour the moment we slice an onion are the oils which contains sulphur which activates the tear-receptors in our eyes. Onions have long been associated with medical properties since the middle Ages, and their health benefits are vast. They are very high in vitamin C, reduce blood sugar, and are known to help contain inflammation etc.

Plant Features

Life-Cycle: Biennial

Height: 0.75-1.8m (2.5-6ft)

Width: 3-4 cm (width of the bulb of the plant)

Flowering Season: Spring (late March to early May)

Flowers: A white-purplish flower with many small buds within

Foliage: Long leaf stalks which shoot up off the bulb

Onion flower
Onion flower

Planting/Growing Details

Sunlight: Full sun, i.e. 6-8 hours a day of direct exposure to sunlight

Water: The onion is quite a hardy crop and can grow in any soil, but for optimum yield, a moist, yet well-drained soil is best.

Sowing season: An onion is a cool season crop and it should be planted at the beginning of the cool season, depending on your climate.

Sowing method: The seeds should be started indoors about 6 weeks before moving them outdoors. Once the shift takes place, plant them about 2cm deep and space them 8-10cm from each other.

Onion fresh
Onion fresh

Care: Make sure to mulch the crop so that the soil retains its moisture. When fertilizing, make sure to choose a fertilizer high in nitrogen content as this increases the size of the bulbs. Make sure to treat your onion plant as a leaf crop, not a root crop. The top half of the bulbs should be visible above the soil, as they need exposure to the air for proper growth. While onions do not need ample water, for sweeter onions water more. If flower stalks appear on any of the plants, remove them, as the onion has bolted and will not produce a crop.

Pests: Onions face their fair share of pests which include thrips and onion maggots. Thrips can be controlled with a simple soap based insecticide which only needs to be sprayed 2-3 times a week.

Harvest: When the onion tops become yellow, then the time to harvest has come near. You can stomp on them, or just wait for them to fall off. Once they become brown, then its time to harvest your crop.

Onion planting
Onion planting

Propagation: Onions are usually propagated by seeds, but can also be propagated with bulbs as well. The bulb must be planted in the soil, so that the stem is in the soil, and after a while, you will find multiple bulbs in place of the single one. However, in this method, as many bulbs will be competing for the same nutrients, the overall yield and quality does not match that of seed production.

It has been found that chewing a gum whilst chopping onions is helpful to stop the tears. Also, if you light a match and move it over the onion, it is likely to help in not giving you tears. Let us know your experiences and don’t forget to share pictures.

NOTE: You can buy onion seeds online at the GreenMyLife store – many varieties with high germination rates available.


Happy Gardening

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