1st Time Onion Grower

Sbarter(Zone 7KY)July 24, 2005

I planted onion sets in March. I harvested them this past weekend and its clear something is very wrong! I ended up with small, soft and very smelly onions - they didn't appear to have any signficant root system and they couldn't be harvested via the stalk - it was too soggy.

What happened?

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glock(z5 PA)

Hi. Sounds like they rotted maybe to wet i don't know what your wheater is like there but if your soil does not drain well they rot every time.
They love fertile soil.
Go organic well drained soil(plant them on a hill if ya have one or a raised bed) and feed them they love to eat.
Dig up your old crop and put in a cover crop then you'll be ready for next time .
good luck.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2005 at 3:06PM
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paquebot(Z-4b WI)

For one, they really aren't supposed to have a stalk. If there is one, that would mean that they probably went to seed. When that happens, no bulbs. And what little you do get doesn't keep. If you let them bloom, that would explain your problem.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2005 at 4:33PM
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jimster(z7a MA)


I grew onions from sets last year and got mostly small onions and a few mediums. Then I found that, to get large onions, you must grow them from plants or seeds (same as plants but you grow your own plants). The seeds should be started early (February) and the plants set out early (April or early May).

Sets work OK for green onions.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2005 at 10:27PM
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gardenlad(6b KY)

Sbarter: It's likely that those few monsoons we had last week and the week before did you in, in the second place. Onions in Kentucky fully bulb out in early- to mid-July. So you may have had bulbs that rotted because of those storms.

In the first place, however, sets were a poor choice. We are in a neutral or short day length area (depends on which authority you choose). Commercial sets are almost all long day length varieties. Which means that even when they do grow, bulbs will be small.

In addition, as Martin points out, you may have had plants that bolted. This is very common with sets, because onions are biennials, and sets are actually second-year plants. So the onions "think" it's time to set seed, rather than grow bulbs.

Just as an aside, underground onions and garlic should be lifted by digging (a fork usually works best rather than a shovel). Most times, if you try pulling them up by the foliage, the bulbs will break off in the ground, particularly if you have clay soil, as is found in most of Kentucky.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2005 at 1:12PM
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coho(z8/9 N. Calif)

Looking at the map, seems day neutral would be safest, but you never know, until you try, just what you can grow in your own garden. Even then, one year is often different than another.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2005 at 11:44PM
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I always use onion seed plants. I only have a few sets after they were forced on me!
My new variety darlings are "Varsity" (large white) and Greek Salad (large red) Try them next spring :-)
Good luck
Maryanne in WMass

    Bookmark   July 27, 2005 at 11:02AM
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gardenlad(6b KY)

Maryanne, I assume from your location that Varsity and Greek Salad are long day-length varieties. As such, they won't do all that well for Sbarter down here in Kentucky.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2005 at 1:43PM
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