Planting And Growing Your Survival Onions!
Onions come in white, yellow, or red bulbs varieties. Plant what you want the procedure for growning onions will apply to all varieties equally. Sweet onions are not a good choice as they have a higher water content and don't store as well, which is a key characteristic of a survival food that should be chosen if possible.
Scallions along with a few other onions are different and will not be part of this article.
Onion seed should be planted as soon as the soil can be worked which is usually before the last frost as they are more tolerant than most other garden plants. This is usually Feb. to late March depending on your latitude. This is when you CAN plant them but they can also be planted a month or so later as well.
Plant the onion seeds about one inch deep and one and one-half inches apart. This is closer than you want but they can be thinned later when the onions get bigger. When thinning the pulled onions are not to be discarded but instead you should use them as green onions and scallions.
One drawback to onions is they have shallow roots so they will require more watering than some other garden plants.
By late summer, the tops of onion plants will begin to lay over on the ground. Stop watering them at this point. After the tops have layed over on the grown it is time to dig the onions. Carefully lift the onions, breaking them from the roots but leave the bulbs in the ground to cure them for storage and prevent sunburn. Harvest the bulbs in about 10 more days. If you live up North be sure to bring onions in before snow, freezing temperatures. Bring them in before curing if it is going to rain. Cut off the brown tops and store the bulbs in a breathable sack or crate. For longest storage you want to keep the onions as cold as possible without actually freezing them. It is important to let the plants go dormant before harvesting, or they won’t store well.
Pull the bulbs and place them in a warm, dry, airy location but out of direct sun and out of contact with soil.
Onions will take about two to three weeks to cure before they’re ready for storing. After curing cut the foliage back to 1 to 2 inches (2.5-5 cm) from the top of the bulb. Store the crop in a cool, dry location and remember that good air circulation is a must.
OK that covers how to get from seed to the table but what about next year? You will need seed for that!
Many of the onions (both seed or sets) from large seed/set production companies are hybrids. That means the seeds are a cross between two parent varieties that are chosen for specific characteristics. When blended together, they give us the best of both varieties. But if you're harvest onion seed from these hybrids the results will not be what you originally grew and sometimes they are sterile seeds.
So be sure to start with onions that can be reproduced from seed.
The next thing you need to know about collecting onion seed is that onions are biennial. This means the first year you can eat the onion or you can wait till the second year for the onion to produce seed. Onions will only bloom their second year.
If your live where the ground freezes during the winter then you will need to pull the bulbs you are growning for seed. If you live in the deep south they can be left in the ground. Whether in the ground or pulled for storage the bulbs need to be protected from freezing but need a full month of cold temperatures to trigger the growth of scapes or stalks and produce seed.
Harvesting the onion seeds when the flowering heads begin turning brown. Cut the flower heads off and place in a bag. Shaking the bag after a few weeks and the dried flowers will give up the seed. Keep the seeds cool and dry through the winter plant in the spring! Enjoy!
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