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Garden Tips for the Garden State – Harvesting Onions

Photo by Chris Eannucci

This week I pulled about half of my Onions and what a great feeling. I have about 50 onions so far, with more to come, for what seems like no work at all. I remember planting them in the spring, and I remember watering them once or twice to get them up but other then that I did nothing.

I didn’t even weed them this year, just let the weeds compete for space.  I don’t know if the growing conditions were just perfect, or not weeding is really the key, but this year I have the biggest onions I have ever grown.

My hypothesis here, is that weeding around the onions breaks some of their roots stunting their growth.  I’ll have to wait till next year to test this though.

I love growing onions so much. They are so cheap. I think I planted around 100 sets in the spring for about $1.50, and barely spent any time growing them.  In fact, I’ll probably spend more time, cleaning and curing them, then I did planting and watering.

Here’s how to Harvest, Cure and Store your Onions

You’ll know it’s time to pull them when they flop over.  If it’s dry, like this year, this is the safest way to go.  If it’s a wet year, you may want to feel the stems a couple inches above the bulb everyday. When this part gets a little squishy, you know the bulb is done growing and you can yank ‘em.

To cure your onions, first clean off the remaining dirt without losing too much papery stuff. Leave them to sit outside in a place where they wont get rained on or wet.  The slightest bit of moisture will ruin a whole crop of onions.

Once they have dried for a couple days, cut the tops back to a few inches and inspect for any mushy or brown leaves, remove them if you spot them.  Let these guys sit in their safe outdoor spot for 2 more weeks before moving indoors.

Once inside, you can clean them up really well, cutting the roots back and trimming the tops to and inch or two.  At this point I like to hang them in the kitchen (away from stove steam and heat) in a mesh bag. If I had a basement I would put them there. A cool dry place really is the best.

You can ask a produce guy in your local grocery store if they have extra onion bags or save your sacks from the winter.  I hang them up and let them finish curing making sure to watch out for any sneaky rotten ones.

That’s it, and don’t forget that you can use them at any point along the curing process.  Cure them well, and they will last through the Fall and well into the Winter.

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