tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

Onions bolting to early!

I planted about six hundred seedlings of two onion varieties in mid January. With our warmer weather of the last ten days, they are growing quickly. I noticed this morning a few of them have already started bolting. They have small flower heads forming. The bulbs are just beginning to form above ground and they shouldn't be ready to start harvesting for another four to six weeks. What is causing the early bolting? What will be the effect on the bulb of the flower set? Any ideas on how to retard bolting? Should I leave the plants that bolt early in the ground for continued growth?

Thanks

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

User avatar
soil
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1855
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:40 am
Location: N. California

not sure why but the flowers are delicious!
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

User avatar
gixxerific
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5889
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 9:42 pm
Location: Wentzville, MO (Just West oF St. Louis) Zone 5B

Not a 100% on this but I thought onions grow more by light duration than temp. Though there are so many contradicting views of onion growth on the net is it hard to say.

If nothing else let them go to seed and collect the seed.

I noticed last year that about 2% of my onions bolted really early and that was it.

Maybe Jal has some insight he seems to be one with the onion.

User avatar
jal_ut
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 7480
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2009 3:20 am
Location: Northern Utah Zone 5

I just cut the flowers off as soon as I see them. They should still make a bulb.

If you have any interest in planting onion seed, you can let some go to seed then gather the seed.

I have found that when planting sets, the smaller sets usually make a good onion without sending up a flower stalk. The larger onion sets just want to go to seed. When planting small plants, I get very few seed stalks. I do know that if you plant a large storage onion, it will always go to seed and produce a lot of seed for you.

Aside from these observatons, I don't know why yours are wanting to go to seed. It is not unusual to get some flower stalks in any onion planting.
Gardening at 5000 feet elevation, zone 4/5 Northern Utah, Frost free from May 25 to September 8 +/-

User avatar
applestar
Mod
Posts: 28176
Joined: Thu May 01, 2008 11:21 pm
Location: Zone 6, NJ (3/M)4/E ~ 10/M

My onion sets came with directions to sort them into dime-sized or smaller for growing to full sized bulbs (plant farther apart in best spots) and larger ones to be planted for green onions (plant closer together). About 1/5 to 1/4 of the contents were larger, another 1/5 or so were sprouting or soft, and 1/2 dozen or so were moldy. They were ordered through Gardens Alive. I planted all but the moldy ones. :()

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

gixxerific wrote:Not a 100% on this but I thought onions grow more by light duration than temp. Though there are so many contradicting views of onion growth on the net is it hard to say.

If nothing else let them go to seed and collect the seed.

I noticed last year that about 2% of my onions bolted really early and that was it.

Maybe Jal has some insight he seems to be one with the onion.
Your probably right! Guess that extra hour we got with daylight savings time made a big difference. :lol:

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

applestar wrote:My onion sets came with directions to sort them into dime-sized or smaller for growing to full sized bulbs (plant farther apart in best spots) and larger ones to be planted for green onions (plant closer together). About 1/5 to 1/4 of the contents were larger, another 1/5 or so were sprouting or soft, and 1/2 dozen or so were moldy. They were ordered through Gardens Alive. I planted all but the moldy ones. :()
Mine had the same instructions on a little tag and I had some moldy ones also. I planted them mold and all. They seem to be doing okay. Onions amaze me because it seems if they have a single healthy cell, that cell will eventually make a new onion.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

jal_ut wrote:I just cut the flowers off as soon as I see them. They should still make a bulb.

If you have any interest in planting onion seed, you can let some go to seed then gather the seed.

I have found that when planting sets, the smaller sets usually make a good onion without sending up a flower stalk. The larger onion sets just want to go to seed. When planting small plants, I get very few seed stalks. I do know that if you plant a large storage onion, it will always go to seed and produce a lot of seed for you.

Aside from these observatons, I don't know why yours are wanting to go to seed. It is not unusual to get some flower stalks in any onion planting.
Both varieties I planted are super sweet hybrids. Don't think seed saving will do me much good. While I did start growing some plants from seed this year instead of just buying them at the big boxes, I have a hard time seeing the value in growing onion from seed since the seedlings are so inexpensive plus the variety available is so large. Since I plant seedlings in January, I would have to start seed so early I'm not sure I want to. I would estimate only 10% of my seedlings were large (pencil size) when I planted them. The other 90% were tiny.


Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

soil wrote:not sure why but the flowers are delicious!
Hey soil, I may just give that a try. Do you eat them as an addition to a salad or somehow prepare and cook them as a dish? Maybe your like me and simply like to sample some things while you are in the garden.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

User avatar
soil
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1855
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:40 am
Location: N. California

Hey soil, I may just give that a try. Do you eat them as an addition to a salad or somehow prepare and cook them as a dish? Maybe your like me and simply like to sample some things while you are in the garden.
all of the above haha. the first time i tried them i was just sampling things. then i started using them in salads. and at one point i would add them to stir frys and other dishes. the kids here don't like onions, but they love onion flowers!
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

Soil,

I used to eat in a restaurant in New Orleans where a dish called "Onion Blossom" originated. You may have seen them in restaurants, but they slice them from the top until the entire onion opens up like a flower blossom. They roll them in seasoned flour and deep fry them. They are served with a spicy dipping sauce. You can feed those to your kids and tell them they are eating onion blossoms without telling them a falsehood.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

User avatar
soil
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1855
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:40 am
Location: N. California

imo onion flowers are better than those deep fried onion flowers. i wonder what an actual deep fried battered onion flower would be like, something i will have to try this year.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

They batter and deep fry squash blossoms. I guess onion flowers would work also. If I keep talking about it, I may have to start eating fried foods again.

:shock:

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

User avatar
soil
Greener Thumb
Posts: 1855
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 1:40 am
Location: N. California

i love fried squash flowers. there also good in eggs.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

garden5
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3062
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:40 pm
Location: ohio

I wonder, though, if you have to remove the squash flower before it produces a fruit to deep fry it. I've too hear of deep frying the squash blossoms, but do not want to ruin my harvest by plucking them.
There's something new growing in the Helpful Gardener Forum! Become a part of it here!

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

Just pick the male blooms after your sure pollination has happened on your female blooms. Some say after pollination has occurred, the male of all species, including Homo Sapien are useless. :D Remember some species of spiders eat the male after pollination.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

Tigerlilylynn
Cool Member
Posts: 77
Joined: Sat Feb 13, 2010 10:03 pm
Location: Middleburg Hts., OH

Deep fry the boys after hand pollinating??

User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5384
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

My grandparents use to keep a small patch of onions about 4 ft square that they never harvested. It was for onion sets only. They harvested the onion sets and planted them in the garden. We use to harvest about 2 bushel baskets of onions every year. I can remember that tiny 4 ft square patch of onions was in the far corner of the garden from the time I was about 4 yrs old until after I graduated from college. That little patch supplies onion sets for 20 years.

I wish I had paid better attention how to grow an onion because I can not grow them. It may have something to do with this hot Tennessee climate.
Last edited by Gary350 on Thu Apr 08, 2010 3:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

Gary, I think that is a great idea. Did they never harvest any of the seed onions from the 4 sq. ft. onion seed bed? Did the same onions regrow tops every year and produce seed or did they simply leave seedlings in the bed and let them grow to seed? Did they do any soil prep to the bed each year to make it more receptive to the seed and possibly improve germination of the seedlings? It just seems to easy to simply let the same onions produce my seedlings year after year after year. Somehow the concept doesn't fit into my understanding of the life cycle of plants.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

garden5
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 3062
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:40 pm
Location: ohio

Tigerlilylynn wrote:Deep fry the boys after hand pollinating??
I think you hit the nail on the head, Lynn (if I may call you that)! That's what I'll do.

I'm trying now to wrap my head around the idea of getting free onion starts for life :shock:> What climactic zone where your grand parents in, Gary? I'm thinking how this works is the onions go to seed and then the seeds grow into seedlings.

Around here, we have the sets in the ground before the existing plants even set seed, so this does perplex me. Your grandparents may have been in a different climate, or seedlings may have been able to catch up quickly to the sets since the seedlings sprouted and grew outdoors from day 1 and may have been hardier.

Could you remember what time of year the seedlings came up and when you moved them to the garden?
There's something new growing in the Helpful Gardener Forum! Become a part of it here!

User avatar
Gary350
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 5384
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:59 pm
Location: TN. 50 years of gardening experience.

tedln wrote:Gary, I think that is a great idea. Did they never harvest any of the seed onions from the 4 sq. ft. onion seed bed? Did the same onions regrow tops every year and produce seed or did they simply leave seedlings in the bed and let them grow to seed? Did they do any soil prep to the bed each year to make it more receptive to the seed and possibly improve germination of the seedlings? It just seems to easy to simply let the same onions produce my seedlings year after year after year. Somehow the concept doesn't fit into my understanding of the life cycle of plants.

Ted

They never did anything to the soil I don't think they could there were too many onions in that small 4 ft spot. They harvested the tops to plant and the same onions grew new tops year after year for over 20 years. I use to mow the lawn and the lawn mower would throw a lot of grass clipping in the onion patch. In the fall the trees would dump a lot of leaved in the onion patch too. So the onions did get a limited amount of compost. My grandfather may have put a little fertilizer on them from time to time but I never saw him do it.
Last edited by Gary350 on Thu Apr 08, 2010 3:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

Dixana
Greener Thumb
Posts: 727
Joined: Thu Apr 01, 2010 3:58 am
Location: zone 4

:evil: Listen her you people! I already don't have enough room for everything I want to grow and now you've got me wanting to do onions
too!! :roll: bad influences, all of you

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

Okay Gary,

I think I understand now. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the same onions made a bloom bud at the top that evolved into a little ball of seedlings every year. Each seedling had a small green top when they were removed from the parent onion. The parent onions were not blooming and making seed which dropped to the ground and germinated. I've seen onions do that. I don't know if it is limited to certain species or varieties of onions or if all onions will do it.

Ted
I simply enjoy gardening!

elementfiftyfour
Cool Member
Posts: 99
Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 5:15 am
Location: Metairie, Louisiana

Not to side track the conversation about cooking and all but just to be sure, should I cut off the flowering bulb at the top of my onions to force them into creating an onion bulb at the base?

If I left the bloom alone will the onion not produce a bulb at all?

[img]https://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y191/elementfiftyfour/2010-04-18111233.jpg[/img]

[img]https://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y191/elementfiftyfour/2010-04-18111314.jpg[/img]



And my elephant garlic is also creating blooms. The small regular garlic isn't creating blooms though.

[img]https://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y191/elementfiftyfour/2010-04-18111220.jpg[/img]

tedln
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 2178
Joined: Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:06 pm
Location: North Texas

elementfiftyfour wrote:Not to side track the conversation about cooking and all but just to be sure, should I cut off the flowering bulb at the top of my onions to force them into creating an onion bulb at the base?

If I left the bloom alone will the onion not produce a bulb at all?

And my elephant garlic is also creating blooms. The small regular garlic isn't creating blooms though.
Hi Xenon,

Since last year was my first year to be a successful onion grower, I will let the onion experts speak up. I will say that I simply pull the onions and eat them when they start to "bolt". In my garden, the onions which are bolting have produced perfect size bulbs for eating as green onions so nothing is lost by eating them a little early. My understanding is that once the onion starts producing the flower bud, the bulb will get no larger. I think that is why the experts advise to separate the small seedlings from the large seedling when you are preparing to plant them. The large seedlings will probably bolt earlier. The small seedlings will require more time in the soil to grow and will probably produce a larger bulb before they bolt. I don't think cutting the bloom off of the stem will make any difference, but I'm not sure.

Ted :D
I simply enjoy gardening!

Return to “Vegetable Gardening Forum”