Grow Organic Peaceful Valley -How to Grow Onions from Seed - Vegetable Gardener
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As with most vegetables, you can start onions from seed in the garden. But many onions have relatively long growing seasons and onion seeds don't germinate quickly, so it's often better to start the crop another way. You can set out transplants, or you can plant "sets" which are simply half-grown onions.
Growing Your Own Transplants
There's a tremendous satisfaction in growing your own plants indoors for transplanting. For one thing you have the benefit of choosing from more varieties.
Buy your seeds early enough to start your plants anywhere from 8 to 16 weeks before the last hard frost in your area. Start the seeds in a 4-to 5-inch deep flat filled with very rich, sterile, loose soil. Sterile soil is free of weed seeds and harmful disease organisms, so the onion seeds have a better chance at the start. The various potting soil and starter mixes on the market are good, but mixing in extra fertilizer before you plant is a must. One or two tablespoons of 5-10-10 fertilizer added to every gallon of potting soil works fine for onions and other vegetables.
Sprinkle the seeds into the soil and gently press them into the soil. Try to space the seeds about 1/4 inch apart, but don't fuss about it. It's impossible to get them spaced exactly right, and you can always thin them if they get too close. After sowing, just barely cover the seed with a little more soil or sand and tamp it down. Next, moisten the soil and cover the flat with a sheet of plastic and then some newspaper. The plastic creates a greenhouse effect retaining the moisture, and the newspaper keeps the temperature even. (Onion seeds don't need light to germinate.) You won't need to water again until you take off the newspaper or plastic.
Put the flats in a nice, warm spot around 65° or 70° F if possible. (Don't worry too much about the temperature being exactly right. Onion seeds will germinate anywhere from 40° to 80° F; they simply prefer a steady 65° to 70° F.)
Don't put the flats on a window sill before the seedlings come up. The temperature there fluctuates too much: On a sunny day it can rise to 90° F or more, but at night it can be the coldest place in the house. That's not good for germination; onions need an even temperature.
When the seedlings sprout, remove the plastic and newspaper and put the flats by a window or under lights. They won't need too much attention. Just make sure they get enough water, and you should add a little fertilizer from time to time -- about a teaspoon in water every two weeks is good. Pour it around the edges of the flat so that the water spreads across the whole area.
In a few weeks, you'll notice the tiny plants getting tall and spindly. That can be a problem, unless you turn it into a plus. It's very important that your onion seedlings not fall over and get too skinny to transplant, so when they're three inches tall, cut them back to one inch. This is your first harvest! The trimmings are delicious in dips, salads, sandwiches or as a garnish. After you cut them, the plants will naturally produce more tops. When the tops reach three inches again, mow them back to one inch. As long as the plants are indoors, cut them back whenever they grow to three inches. With short tops the plants can put more energy into developing healthy roots, and that will help them get a good start when you put them in the ground. A few weeks before planting, stop trimming them. Top growth will be important outside.