Why are my onions so small?

organic_mamag(Z5 IN)August 3, 2008

I planted a row of yellow onions (sets) this May. This is my first year with a real garden and first time to grow onions. I read about the fact that you are supposed to wait until the green tops fall over to pull them. Well, mine were falling all over the place so I started pulling some about a week ago. I was disappointed to see how small they were. I was expecting them to be about baseball size, but they were considerably smaller than that. They do look healthy and I've been drying them on the patio to store. I ended up only picking about every other one. I wondered if maybe I planted them too close together or too close to the surface of the ground (not deep enough).

Does any experienced onion grower have any advice? We eat a lot of onions and I'd really like them to be bigger.


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Onions grown from sets generally will not be as big as those grown from plants. Also, May is much too late to plant for your area.

I would suggest setting out plants in early to mid April, planting about one inch deep. Feed them with a high nitrogen fertilizer about two weeks after planting and again about one month later, and keep them well watered and weeded (a thick mulch is helpful). Spacing should be about six inches between plants and twelve inches between rows. Do not knock the tops down - let them fall naturally - and harvest when the tops are down and mostly yellow/brown.

Most important, be sure to buy large onion varieties, and ones suited for your latitude (long day type).


    Bookmark   August 3, 2008 at 5:48PM
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I have a similar problem, but this isn't the first time I've planted onions. I used to get baseball-sized onions. The last two years, including this year, the onions have been quite small. We've gotten plenty of rain, I've been weeding them, and fertilized. Am I missing a nutrient in my soil?

    Bookmark   August 21, 2008 at 12:28PM
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TJG911(z5b CT)

i agree may is too late. also sets are a poor choice. either start from seeds or at the least buy plants locally not mail order.

what was the spacing? you did not tell us.

what variety? baseball sized is large and not all onions are that large.

soil needs to be rich and have good drainage free from rocks.

onions require 1" of water or rain a week.


    Bookmark   August 23, 2008 at 8:47AM
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I planted them in November and now the green stalks are falling over. The onions are very small. I did put fertilizer in the soil before planting the set and I have given them more twice...Thank you

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 5:21PM
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