Plant Onions Now (8b, 9)
In USDA Zone 8b and 9, it is time to plant onions for a spring harvest.
Onions require cooler temperatures for growth and will bolt (tops elongate) to produce seeds as the days become longer and temperatures increase (about May around here!).
Purchase the seed bulbs from a local seed producer/company — we go to the local Co-Op. The seed bulbs are tiny onions with short green tops (the tops look like stems, but are actually leaves).
Purchase an onion variety that is suited for your area — onions come in varieties that require short days (southern regions of North America) or long days (Northern regions of North America). By the time that we have “long” days, it is far too hot for an onion to grow.
While it seems only logical that only local types onions are sold, some of the larger box stores sale plants not suited for the area where sold. (The plants will know the difference and do not grow well without correct conditions.)
Dig a small hole — deep enough to set the bulb in below the ground level — add fertilize, then water, and cover over. Plant about 4 inches apart in soil that is loose about 8 inches deep (minimum). We use the single height concrete bricks for the onion bed, then I plant sunflowers (for fun and for science about plants discussions) in between the bulbs in April. By the time that the onions are harvested, the sunflowers are about 8 inches tall.
We have 3 varieties planted: “1015” (white onion, bred by Texas A&M University, “The Texas Super Sweet” (upgrade from the 1015) and “Red Creole” (a red variety).
On average, onions take about 3 to 4 months to grow. Onions have small root systems (think about what they look like in the grocery store), so they require very fertile soil. I add well-done compost — I’m working on a composting blog next, check back for updates.
You can also purchase bulb fertilizer for onions (go to a gardening center) if needed. For us, personally, we are working on self-sustainable agricultural practices — no pesticides, but we have purchased fertilizer from the box stores in the past.
Now to wait for harvesting time! (These will be dried, and used for daily use or for salsa — more blogs to come!)