Onion plant growing in the garden
image by lizzy1e/morguefile.com
Onions are a staple vegetable in many gardens. Although the onion is a simple vegetable, often gardeners have questions and concerns about how to grow them in the home garden. Gardeners can grow onions from sets, from transplants or from seed. A gardener grows onions from sets by planting onion bulbs that grew the previous growing season. A gardener grows onions from seeds or from transplants by sowing the seeds directly into soil or planting onion plants that have not yet produced onion bulbs. Once the onions are in the ground, it is important to watch the growth process carefully. If the plants send up onion seed stalks, the gardener must pull the plants.
Place onions sets in the ground as soon as the soil is warm enough to work. Place seedlings in the ground after the last spring frost. Consult specific planting instructions for your onion variety, if possible. Make sure that the onions are not placed outdoors too soon because this might subject the onions to temperature fluctuations. Temperature fluctuations sometimes cause onions to send seed stalks up prematurely. Gardeners call this "bolting."
Watch the onions as they grow in the soil. Notice as soon as possible if the onions bolt or send up flower stalks because you will have to harvest these onions.
Pull onions that have bolted up carefully from the soil. Although these onions will be small, they will be flavorful. Use these onions in recipes as soon as you can because the seed stalk will make it difficult to store these onions for any length of time.