Can not get big Onion bulb

jolj(7b/8a)June 23, 2014

All my onion sets and plant are bigger then a golf ball, but not by much.
I have the same problem with garlic cloves, so it must be me not the plants.
anyone care to guess what I am going wrong.
Beans,peppers,tomatoes,egg plants all grow great in the raised bed, everything gets mulched.
But Alliums just do not do well for me.

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Is the recomended day length of the onions correct for your zone...?

I don't remember the technical term but some garlic have to get use to the area that they are grown in and you only get small cloves.. Thats why its recomended to get seed cloves grown locally or get a type of garlic that will do well in the conditions of your zone. I grew tiny garlic that were from another zone and this year they grew to normal size.. I was happy because I now have garlic seed cloves that will do well here...

It was the same with my shallots. They were small last year. I saved some to replant and now they're larger than a golf ball. I grew some new varieties this year but they're pretty tiny. Smaller than the seed bulbs. Hopefully i get the same better results next year.

    Bookmark   June 23, 2014 at 4:21PM
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Mark(Oregon, Zone 8)

With some more info, we'll likely be able to help some.

Lets start with the onions. When are you planting them and at what spacing? Are they all sets or from seedlings? What are the varieties?

Now garlic, similar questions. When are you planting and whats the spacing. Varieties?

    Bookmark   June 24, 2014 at 10:39AM
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Are you in the southeast? 7b/8-east is a challenge because winters are often cold enough to trigger onions to bolt, so you must wait to plant in spring and there's not much time left then before they bulb.

You might try overwintering onions like Bridger, Desert Sunrise, etc., which are planted in early fall. They are short day onions bred in Japan for extra cold-hardiness, and I think they are great. Johnnys and Territorial sell seeds.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2014 at 6:35AM
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Peter1142(Zone 6b)

I want to try overwintering some onion seeds this year myself, the onion sets I planted made really lousy bulbs and many bolted, great for scallions terrible for bulbs. Does anyone have any advice on doing this? I'm in zone 6. Definitely long day, or intermediate if they will mature early.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2014 at 11:39AM
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Peter if you search "overwintering onions" in this forum it will turn up some short threads on these special varieties. I direct-sow them in early August, keep them under a row cover tunnel through winter, and harvest in early June. Even when snow flattens the tunnel they survive. This year's crop is cured and ready, and I'm just starting to harvest the main crop onions.

Sets are only good for scallions in my region (6-east). The ones I didn't pull bulbed to the size of quarters. Seedlings you raise yourself make way better bulbs.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2014 at 6:45AM
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Peter1142(Zone 6b)

I was kind of thinking more of sowing seeds at the end of the fall and leaving them to sprout on their own first thing in the Spring whenever they think it is time, rather than keeping plants alive through the winter. That's how it happens in nature why can't it work that way in the garden?...

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 9:15PM
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In nature I think onions depend more on vegetative propagation than on seeds. Only a few are strong seed producers (chives). But onions in general have no weed resistance and my garden would quickly swallow up any little seedlings that were not being helped along by humans.

If onions did perpetuate themselves with seeds, the plants would be shedding them in late summer, and they would germinate in early fall.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 8:42AM
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Peter1142(Zone 6b)

In my gardens the weeds didn't start going until the hot weather, long after all the cool weather stuff sprouted nicely, all growing healthy long before the supposed time for them...

I'll try throwing some seeds in when it gets really cold in hopes they don't germinate until after winter... if it doesn't work I will just sow in the spring. Definitely going with seeds next year, the onion sets gave me nice greens and terrible bulbs.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 11:14AM
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If all you really want are big onions, get some Candy or Sweet Spanish plants next spring. They come 60-80 per bunch for about $10.00 a bunch. A whole lot of size has to do with variety as well as proper care from very early on. For storage and cooking, you can also get Copra in plants and those may keep a full year if properly cured.

They won't do anything either if you do not carefully build your onion bed to be especially fertile and then set the plants as soon as possible to get as much top growth as possible BEFORE the plants start to bulb up. Those tops are what will give you your bulbs.

FWIW if you can't grow onions from sets, I really doubt you will do well with seeds, either. There is no easier way to grow cooking onions than sets, but those, of course, will never be Sweet Spanish or Candy size even when properly spaced which they seldom are.

Try a bunch of plants for your best bet.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 12:39PM
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Concur: Southeast 8a is great for onions. That is where Vidalia's are grown. It does require shortday onions transplanted in early December and grown through the winter. Shortday onions are also grown as overwintering onions in Z8 Pacific northwest.
The secret to size is 1. Variety , 2 nitogen, 3. water. The onion is bascily a leafy vegetable and the bulb is a cluster of modified leaves. It matches corn in nitrogen demand and water demand.
I also recommend buying plants. You can start from seed in a plantbed or flats in early September and transplant in December. More work but a lot more choices for variety.

Actually Golden Grande is a long day Spanish Onion, but does ok here when summers are cooler. Can't take too much triple digit temps

    Bookmark   July 11, 2014 at 3:49PM
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yolos - z 7b/8a Ga.

farmerdill - Southeast 8a is great for onions. That is where Vidalia's are grown. It does require shortday onions transplanted in early December and grown through the winter.
Farmerdill. I am in zone 8A just below Atlanta. Should I be transplanting my onions in December and growing them over the winter. Do you have to do anything to them to keep them from getting frozen during the winter. Do you grow shallots and garlic also. I was told to plant my garlic after the first frost but before the first freeze. Would onions follow this same planting schedule. I am a little north of you.

This last spring was the first time I tried transplants and they bulbed up a little but not much bigger than a golf ball. I think they were granex transplants purchased from HD. I finally realized to use transplants instead of sets and to grow short day onions (duh). But I still need to do something different to get the large onion.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2014 at 9:51PM
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I am on the Columbia -Richmond county line (I-20). I doubt you get a whole lot colder. December transplant works great for me. If you need to go to spring transplant, try the day neutrals like Candy. Short day varieties need to be large to begin bulbing in March. Small plants are triggered and can't develop a large bulb but just do the best they can.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2014 at 4:30PM
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