I've got little onions. I want big onions all season long. Help?
January 25, 2009 2:19 PM   Subscribe

Onion starts. I got them in a bunch of 50 for cheaper than the seed packet. Can I save them for later planting?

(Yes, it is time to plant here in South Texas in the next week or two. I'll probably start planting the hardier root veggies in 2 weeks.)

I'm doing square foot gardening and planning to stagger the maturity of plants like carrots and onions so that I can have an ongoing supply. I wasn't really thinking about that aspect when I bought the package of starts. How can I preserve them so that I can plant them 1 month, 2 months, 3 months from now?
posted by SpecialK to Home & Garden (4 answers total)
Best answer: Put them in a paper bag and leave them in a cool place (not the fridge unless if you have any veggies in there) and check on them once a week or so. It's better to plant the ones that are starting to bud first and save the dormant ones for later.

Onions are happier when the temperature isn't fluctuating back and forth constantly (it upsets their internal clock), so saving them all for mid-spring or later might be best.
posted by Alison at 2:52 PM on January 25, 2009

Also, since harvested onions can keep for a good long while, depending on the variety, it's not such a big deal to do one big harvest. Just cure and store properly after you harvest them.
posted by librarina at 3:00 PM on January 25, 2009

When you say "ongoing supply", do you mean an ongoing supply of mature onions (which can generally be stored and used as needed, as librarina says), or an ongoing supply of young onions? You can pretty much harvest onions for immediate eating at any time; in fact, most people do this as they thin the crop, leaving the final batch to get big and fat for storage. So I would not go to the trouble of staggered planting, I would just do a staggered harvest.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:20 AM on January 26, 2009

Oh, I meant to say the final onion harvest can't really be staggered, as the onions go into dormancy according to environmental cues, no matter what size they are. Leaving them for longer than 10 days after the tops fall makes them more susceptible to pathogens that shorten storage life. When the crop's leaves yellow, you need to prepare them all for curing. Different varieties may begin to go dormant at different times, but if your crop is all the same you'll need to harvest them all.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:25 AM on January 26, 2009

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