Onion Planting and Care

Each year I talk to dozens of people about the size of their onions. Many cannot seem to get the large bulb onions like the one they get at the grocery store. As i talk to the customers there are three general mistakes made when planting their onions. Planting Depth, Space Between plants, and Fertilization. Planting depth for onions is between 3/4″ and 1″. You can plant them a little deeper but be sure to pull the dirt back off of them after a good root system has taken hold. Many times onions do not form a bulb is becasue there is too much soil around the plant. To grow the largest bulbs pull nearly all the soil back from the bulb except for whree the roots enter the ground. Space between plants is usually an issue also. If you are wanting green onions as weel as bulb onioins space your plants at 3″ intervals and pull every other plant when the time comes. I do not recomend this method because you generally pull the green onions when you ready to eat them and this may hinder your bulb onions from growing properly. What I recomend is planting your bulb onions at 6″ intervals to give them plenty of room to grow. If you want a 4-5″ diameter onion you have to give it room. Then plant your green onions at 2″ intervals and pull them as you wish. Proper fertilization can make all the difference. Before planting I recomend using 8-24-24. this blend gives you some nitrogen to get the plant started but also gives you phosphorous for root develioment and potash for root development, cold hardiness, and water effeciencey. Put down about 2 lbs per 50′ of row and mix into the top few inches of dirt. This is where most people stop ferlizing and that is a mistake. Onions require a large amount of nitrogen while growing. I recomend topdressing then onions with either 46-0-0 at 1/4 lbs per 50′ row or 8-24-24 at 1lbs per 50′ row. You will need to topdress the onions every 2 or 3 weeks andtil the stalk begin to get soft. This is ususally about a month before harvest. Do not use a sulfate based nitrogen unless you want very pungent onions. The fertilizer I recomended is a urea based nitrogen. If you like a very pungent onion you can substitute 21-0-0 for the topdressing at 1/2lb per 50′ row. Following these guidlines, and with a little help from mother nature, you should have some large size onions this year. Burge