garden5
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Growing onions from seed in the North.

I posted a similar thread to this before, but did not get a very good response. Perhaps this time it will be better.

I'm in the north and would like to grow some onions from seed next year. I am hung-up on a few things, however.

My firs question is if I should (can) direct sow in the ground or start my seed indoors.

If I can direct sow the seed, when would I do it? In October like garlic, or in very early spring, such as March?

I have done some research online and haven't really found anything definitive. I figured I would ask the experts here before I take the next step and call my extension office.

I can honestly say that I have learned more about vegetable gardening from posting/reading on this forum than anywhere else, keep up the good work!

Thank you very much for any advice concerning my onion issue.

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jal_ut
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I sow directly in the garden as early in April as I can get on the ground.
Plant lots, and enjoy eating them all summer. You can use some as green onions and let some grow for storage onions.

Take a couple of large onions and plant them in April too. Let them go to seed and collect the seed for next year. You can avoid buying seed this way.

If you are in the North, plant long day onions. The Yellow Spanish onions do well here in Northern Utah.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

garden5
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jal_ut wrote:I sow directly in the garden as early in April as I can get on the ground.
Plant lots, and enjoy eating them all summer. You can use some as green onions and let some grow for storage onions.

Take a couple of large onions and plant them in April too. Let them go to seed and collect the seed for next year. You can avoid buying seed this way.

If you are in the North, plant long day onions. The Yellow Spanish onions do well here in Northern Utah.
Thanks for the advice and congratulations on your onion harvest (I read your recent thread).

In your onion harvest thread, you said that you planted plants/sets in April. Was the sowing advice you just gave me for planting seeds or sets?

Either way, thanks for the reply.

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jal_ut
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Was the sowing advice you just gave me for planting seeds or sets?
For seed. Actually the planting times are the same for seed, sets or plants. This may change some depending on your climate. Plant as early as you can prepare the soil. Onions are pretty frost resistant.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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applestar
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I've no advice to give as I'm still experimenting myself. FWIW, this spring, I started seeds (Red Robin and Yellow Granex) indoors in beginning of March. Out of the 2 dozen or so seedlings I started in an egg cartons, I harvested 6. :roll: Only 2 were a respectable size. :roll: :roll:

Part of the problem was, I'm sure, weeds. One seed catalog I read recently said you lose about 40% if the onion bed is not meticulously weeded. I interplanted a lot of them with strawberries, but the strawberries and their runners grew a lot more vigorously than I anticipated. Another is probably that I should've started the seeds earlier for a sturdier transplants. (Mine weren't the recommended "pencil size" when they were planted)

This fall, I'm trying Egyptian topsetting onions and Potato onions. If I have room after that, I may try direct seeding a dedicated bed of Red Robin next spring, like jal_ut said, since that was the variety that grew well, and this way I'll get red onions as well. In theory, if the Potato onions do well and taste good, I shouldn't need to grow any other kind, though a sweet and big variety like Spanish onion might be welcome as well -- is Yellow Granex considered a Spanish onion? .... (Oh, what to do.. :wink: )

Oh! I just looked up Yellow Granex and it's described as a short day variety. Now I *thought* the seed catalog said it was good for Northern growers, but this would explain why they didn't grow so well. :oops:

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jal_ut
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Yes. Many onions are day-length sensitive; their bulbs begin growing only after the number of daylight hours reach some point. Usually 15+ hours. I have good luck with yellow onions, red onions and some white onions. Northern growers need long day onions. I have grown Walla Walla onions, but have had mixed results with them.

I also grow some egyptian onions (walking onions or tree onions). The ones that have the little bulbils on top of the leaves. I like to take the bulbils in the late fall and plant a row of them. Come spring they will make good scallions early. These onions never make a large bulb. You can use the bulbils or pull the main plant anytime, but the older ones get tough.
You can plant the bulbils anytime of year and they will soon make scallions. (Green Onions)

If I can recommend anything on onion culture it would be: Plant early in the spring. Give each plant 5 to 6 inches of space. Fertilize them. Weed them. Provide ample water. Plant sets (little dry onions) that are about the size of marbles, or if you can get them plants are good.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

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jal_ut
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[url=https://donce.lofthouse.com/jamaica/onion_4.jpg]Another Picture[/url]

I am posting a link to the picture because I don't like the way the BB software truncates the pictures.

This picture shows what you might expect from different plantings.

In the front center is two clusters of bulbils from the Egyptian onions.

On the left is two large Big Daddy onions. These guys weigh two pounds each. These were plants planted in April.

In the top center are seven small yellow onions that were grown from seed planted in April. These are the largest of the lot.

On the right are four yellow onions that were grown from sets planted in April.

The difference in size from the huge ones and the nice yellow onions can be attributed to the variety. They received the same treatment.

I think you may get larger onions from seed if you thinned them well when they were small. I did not thin these much. Took out a few for scallions.

I hope this is of some use. Have a great garden.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

kgall
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Location: New Hampshire

Thanks for all the info! I was going to get seed and just plant those but now I may try to find some sets and plant those too!

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