Onions— How to Grow + Three Ways to Use

Onions are such a staple in the kitchen that it just makes sense to grow your own. A patch of onions right outside your door will save you time and money and they are so easy to grow.

Growing Onions

Onions are available as sets, small bulbs or transplants, which look like scallions and come in a bundle of 60 or so. Plant in early spring as soon as the soil is workable. If you can't plant your onions right away, unbundle and place them in a bucket with 2 inches of moist soil in the bottom. Keep them in a cool, bright place but out of direct sun until you are ready to plant. A sunny basement is ideal.

Your plants will need abundant sun and good drainage, and they grow best when the soil pH ranges between 6.0 and 6.8. Place time release or organic fertilizer in the planting hole so that it is close to the roots. Follow the fertilizer's label directions. This fertilization technique, called "banding," places nutrients right where young onion roots will find them. Raised beds or raised rows called furrows made by mounding up soil are ideal, especially if your soil is heavy clay. Onions roots are shallow and not very efficient at taking up moisture, so they need a steady supply of water to grow without interruption. Although they actually recover well from drought and start growing again when watered, it is best to keep the soil consistently moist until the bulbs enlarge.

Onions are ready to harvest in about 100 days. You will know they are ready when the tops yellow and fall over. Dig bulbs in early morning and dry in a shaded location over the course of the day. Hang to cure for two or three weeks before removing tops and storing. To store any type of onion keep them in a cool, dry location and make sure that they don't touch each other. Some people put them in the legs of panty hose and hang them. To do this simply select a pair of clean, sheer hose and drop in the onions, tying a knot between each onion so that they do not touch.

Green Onions

Cheese and Scallion Quiche

I always plant more onions than I need so I can harvest some early to use as scallions. This quiche capitalizes of the mild flavor of fresh, green onions.

Onion Dip

Onion and Parsley Dip

Aside from being an essential seasoning for savory dishes, onions are pretty tasty in their own right. This dip is delicious with a cold beer. The parsley might help reduce the onion breath some, but I’d plan on sharing this with close friends.

Frozen Onions

Homegrown onions are perfect for freezing for later use. Chop them up in a food processor, spread them out on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and place the baking sheet in the freezer. Transfer the frozen onions in an air-tight bag. You may want to double bag them to keep everything else in your freezer from tasting like onions!

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