Onions like to hide their secrets. Beginners as well as expert gardeners plant them in hopes of having large onions upon harvest, only to be disappointed by small, what seems like, spring onions.
It's time to peel back the layers of this mysterious root crop.
It is very important to purchase your onion bulbs from a local garden shop for the reason that you need short season growing onions. Big box stores are selling for the whole United States, which means they purchase a few types of onions in bulk. They may be short growing season. They may be long growing season. You should, for fun, ask your large chain supplier, which onion they are selling. Do yourself, as well as local businesses a favor, and visit a local feed & seed or garden shop, and purchase the correct onion for your area.
So which onion do you need? In the south, especially South Carolina, we must grow short season onions, because of our shorter growing season, hence the name.
You can plant onions from seed, plants, or bulbs. I prefer to plant the bulbs. Bulbs have been in the ground for a whole year, so you are way a head of the game.
Most of your root crops can be planted all winter long. Onions planted in the fall have the potential to grow larger because they have all fall to grow, however you can plant them from late fall until the first of March. For fall planting, wait until the temperatures get in the low eighties. Onions are frost tolerant, but grow slower when the temperatures dip into the thirties.
So now that we have one layer of the mystery peeled back, let's uncover another onion secret.
Amazingly, you can grow “spring” onions and big onions from the same type bulb. Spring onions really don't have anything to do with spring. Spring onions are onions that where planted too deep.
In order to get big bulbs, you must plant them right on top of the soil so they sit proudly. Again, if you bury them too deep, you will get “spring onions” which causes the root and leaves to be one uniform shape instead of a big, round plumb onion bulb.
I like to plant some deep and some shallow. This way you get the best of both worlds.
If your goal is spring onions, plant them deeper and don't pull the soil away from them. You can cut just the green parts off and use them as chives on your potatoes, as needed, and the onion bulb will continue produce. If your goal is big onions, however, don't do this.
Spring onions are easier to grow, however it takes a little bit more work to grow a big onion. Big onions are a high maintenance. They shy away from dirt like the little princess that they are. Every few days, dirt should be brushed away from your onions, if you want bigger onions.
Soil is important and should be very loose, and also contain a fair amount of compost. I prefer Black Kow Organic Compost. This gives your onions a nice “home” to live in, but you must also feed them well.
I find that a well balanced fertilizer like 6-7-7 makes my onions flourish. Begin fertilizing after your onion shoots, the green part of the onion, reaches four inches.
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Onions need to be planted where they can get at least six hours of sunlight. You can plant them in the shade if you prefer spring onions.
Whether you like spring onions or it's high maintenance royal twin the big onion, anyway you slice it, you should give this root crop another try. As always- Get Growing South Carolina.
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This fertilizer is great for onions, beets, radishes, carrots, and more. And a little goes a long way. People who are successful gardeners feed their crops. Most crops need to be fed every three weeks for best results.
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