Are you a salad fan? Do you wish to eat nothing but fresh, green vegetables once the spring comes? Do you enjoy gazing upon your garden early in the morning and feeling thrilled and happy? Being myself one of such people, I have decided to put together this guide, so that you can grow your onions.
Of course that you can buy it at every store at a meager price, but the fact that you have made and produced your food will bring you such great feeling. Also, you will notice that the taste is therefore entirely different.
The history of onions
It is impossible to pinpoint the exact moment in time when humankind started to grow onions. What is the most reasonable assumption is that it was growing wild and that ancestors had eaten them long before fire or writing was invented.
Therefore, we can freely say that onions are among the eldest plants that humankind had grown, cultivated and eaten. Its high amount of water contained, small size and the ability to be dried out made them so convenient.
The place of origin of onions is also debatable. Because of their high decomposing rate, almost no traces of onions have been found on the archaeological sites. There are two theories about where the onions have been grown first.
One states that the place of origin of this plant is India and Pakistan, while the other claims that the area of Iran and Mesopotamia are the first places where onion had been grown. Either way, it was confirmed that some 5.500 years ago this culture was grown in Egypt, and later in Rome as well.
Throughout the Dark and Middle Ages, onions remained as the foundation of average man's diet, as well as being present in courts and higher places. Until today, this great plant remained with us, and it is confident that it will be for a long period ahead.
Any onion is not overly fond of acidic soils. Therefore, if you have one of such kind in your garden, you will have to prepare it first. Garden lime is the most common way of making the optimal soil acidity. You can buy it in every gardening center, and it is not expensive. Applying is also easy, but still, if you have never used it, here is a guide for you.
On the other hand, if you are uncertain on the type of soil, you must check it first. You can use several ways to determine the acidity of the ground, and you can follow the one which suits you the best. Also, if you are up for some soil rearrangements, you can make a bit of higher ground, because the onions prefer a well-drained soil.
Creating a bit elevated area can do the trick so that the extra water will be drained out. The location on where you are going to grow onions is also important because you will need a lot of sunlight. Avoid planting it under the tree or in the shade.
Adding humus and manure is a part of standard procedure, and it is not an exception here. To make seeds grow faster and to have better cropping, I recommend to spread several centimeters of manure over the area and to till it lightly. This will also air the ground, improving its quality.
Choosing the right variety of onion is not such hard work. Any kind you can find will do the trick, but still, there are some minor differences among them.
"Pompeii" – If you are a fan of cocktails which feature onion stick, this variety is for you. Also an excellent choice for pickling.
“Apache” – Its red color will add up some variety into the salad. It has nice texture and flavor as well.
"White Lisbon" – This was my first choice for growing because it has good cropping time, it is quite reliable and endures overwintering very well.
You can purchase seed in any Garden Center, or you can grow it yourself. The latter method, however, can be utilized only after your first crop, when you leave several onions to fully grow, and develop flowers and seeds at the end.
Those seeds should be stored in ordinary paper bags and left until use. Keep in mind that storage, where you keep them, must be dry and dark because any humidity can lead to developing of mold, which will render seeds unusable.
What I liked the most about growing onions is their possibility to grow everywhere. I have even bought a flower pot to test if it will be possible to grow it there, and of course, it was. The best location is the garden, but since a lot of people are moving from the countryside to the cities, they lack proper soil.
People will give you strange looks if you start planting onions in Central Park, will they not? Luckily, you can use several things to help you. Either purchase flower container which is large and can sustain one line of onions, or even better, see if you can find several ammo crates.
Those are made for the harshest conditions, are sturdy, robust and durable so that they will contain the soil without any problems. The only thing you should look after is the location. If you have roof access, ask if you can put several crates there. This is rarely an issue because the cause is good, you do not bother anyone, and you can always offer your neighbors some fresh grown onions.
Whether that be a garden or a crate, you must always prepare the soil, meaning to put enough humus and manure and to make soil loose and fine. As for the time of sowing, onions are very flexible, so any time between March and July will be fine.
If you wish early spring onions, you should sow the seed at the beginning of autumn, leave it for overwintering, and they will be ready to pluck them somewhere between March and May. You can poke a hole with our finger about a ½ inch deep, put a seed inside, and cover it with soil lightly.
The space between two holes should be about 4 to 6 inches, and the space between rows should be somewhere about 6 inches.
There is not much to say about maintaining of onions. Water the plants lightly when you notice that the soil is dry, water it lightly. Be careful not to water too much, because it may cause the bulb to rot, or the onion to develop a large bulb but with weaker taste.
Also, the watering should be done very early in the morning (sometimes I get up around 5 PM) or late at night. This is done because if the soil is hot, the water will get heated, which can severely damage the root and kill the plant.
The real threat to your plants is living ones, such as birds, weeds, and germs. First ones you should drive away as soon as you see them, weeds must be plucked due to their tendency to suffocate the plant, and the germs need to be removed.
If you have several rows of onions in your garden, eliminating bugs by hand can be tiresome work, and it is recommended to use some weaker germicide.
After about eight weeks, the onions are ripe for consuming. You can take them gently by the base and pull it out of the ground completely, or you can cut out the upper, green part of the plant, leaving the bulb to continue to grow. Either way, you got yourself a fresh ingredient for a salad.
All you need to do is to wash it thoroughly under the stream of water, and they are ready for the table.
My gardening days began with onions, but have not ended there. This was only an introduction to a wonderful world of growing plants and taking care about those fragile little greenies. I'm positive that if you lack experience with gardening, onions are a great place to start.
They are not demanding, and you will get that awesome feeling of accomplishment once you taste the salad you have grown with your own hands.
As always, all of your comments and thoughts are welcome in the comment section below.