There are many names for green onions, including spring onions and scallions, but whatever you call them, one thing is certain. They are packed with flavor. Easy to grow in any backyard garden, find out when to harvest this flavorful plant.
When to Harvest Green Onions? In late spring, around May or June, your green onions will be ready for harvest. They will be bunched closely together, which is how the small bulbs are maintained. Once your green onions reach a height of 6 to 8 inches and are no more than ½ an inch in diameter, they are ready for harvest. The smaller the diameter, the more subtle the flavor but too large, and the texture become too rough.
Gently loosen the soil around the onions, paying close attention to the bulbs and the roots. Then, take a firm grip at the base of the plant, near the ground, and give it a good tug. The foliage on green onions is rather delicate so you don’t want to pull too far up the top.
Once you harvest them, rinse the green onions under cold water to remove any dirt. You can trim the roots and the tips of the onions while being sure to check for damage or rot.
Green onions can be enjoyed right away or you can store them properly in the fridge where they will last up to one week.
How do you know when your green onion is ready to harvest?
Unlike other vegetables that have a long growing time, green onions are ready relatively soon. In just 65 to 70 days after planting, they are ready to harvest.
Normally green onions are planted in early spring, which means they will be ready in May or June, depending on your location and climate. This is why they get the name of spring onions.
However, there are many different varieties of green onions so always check your seed packages. For example, while the common variety, White Lisbon, only takes 60 days, another variety, Evergreen, can take 80 to 90 days to reach maturity.
If you forget to check what your seed package says, there are many physical attributes that will alert you when your green onions are ready for harvest. The most important is size.
Green onions should reach a length of 6 to 8 inches tall. Because the main part of green onions that are eaten is the foliage, the length is important. This is in contrast to regular onions, where the foliage is less important than the size of the bulbs underground.
Furthermore, the foliage of green onions should be a vibrant green. You can uncover a bit of dirt from the top of the root and look for a bright white color.
Another important size consideration is the diameter or length across the width of the foliage. For the best taste, green onions should measure between ¼ of an inch and ½ of an inch in diameter.
If you want a more subtle taste, pick your green onions when they have a smaller diameter. However, don’t let the foliage become too wide, or else the strong flavor will be offset by an unpleasant, rough texture.
What happens if you don’t harvest green onions?
If left alone, green onions will continue to grow and produce flowers at their tips. These are actually edible, so you can use them as a garnish or in salads.
Once the flowers dry up, they will produce seeds that can be used for next year’s crop. However, you can always take a chance and see what nature has up its sleeve.
Green onions belong to the allium family and have the ability to self-seed. This means if left alone there is a good chance the seeds will fall to the ground, survive the winter, and grow new onions the following spring.
The one caveat is that self-seeding is not a sure thing. There are a lot of factors that need to happen, including the right temperature, the right soil depth, and the absence of critters digging up your dirt.
All the same, if you happen to forget about your green onions and don’t harvest them, it may just work out alright.
How to harvest green onions?
Now that you know if your green onions are ready for harvesting, it’s time to pick them. The biggest thing to remember is that green onions are quite delicate. You want to be very careful when harvesting them or else they can suffer permanent damage.
Take a small shovel or spade and gently loosen the dirt around the bulbs. While green onions have bulbs that only grow an inch deep, they do have an extensive root system that needs a bit of work.
Also, give the bulbs a wide birth as you don’t want to damage them. While green onion bulbs are small in size, they are also delicate so dig around them.
With one hand, gently grasp the green onions, right at the base where they emerge from the dirt. If you pull from too high up on their foliage, the tops will break right off.
Gently pull the onions up from the dirt. If you do a proper job loosening the soil, they should be able to pop right out.
Should you wash green onions after harvesting?
Green onions can be washed right after harvesting. Run them under cold tap water to remove any dirt or grime. Then, be sure to leave them to fully dry on a paper towel before you store them or eat them.
Another consideration with green onions is that their roots should be snipped off. The roots are inedible so it’s a good idea to clean the onions up right away.
You should also inspect your green onions for signs of rot or damage. As they grow in bunches it can be hard to see if there is damage until they are out of the ground and you can separate them.
Can you eat green onions immediately after harvesting?
Yes, you can eat green onions right away. Similar to other vegetables, if you can, harvest green onions in the morning. This way there is ample moisture content and the onions will not go limp right away.
However, if you have a sudden hankering for baked potatoes and green onions, by all means, head to the garden for some fresh produce.
If you want to store your green onions, take a moist paper towel and wrap it around a bunch of onions. Then, place the entire package into an airtight bag, and finally place it in the fridge.
Check your onions every few days to ensure there is no rot or mold. If properly stored, your green onions will last in the fridge for up to a week.
How to regrow green onions
There are some vegetables that you need to harvest and consume and then wait another year to grow. The brilliant thing about green onions is that you don’t have to wait for the next year.
After you harvest your green onions, save a few bulbs for this purpose. Not only will this give you green onions year-round but it also allows you to use your garden for other crops.
Simply cut off the tops of the green onions, which you can use right away for cooking. There only needs to be about an inch of green onion.
As long as the bulb is still intact, including its roots, you are good to go. Place the onion bulbs in a glass of water. There should be enough water to cover the roots but doesn’t need to cover the tops of the onions.
Place the jar on a windowsill where there is ample sunlight. Without light, your green onions will not grow.
Within a week, as if by magic, your green onions will start growing and you will have a few inches of vibrant green onion foliage. For proper care, be sure to change the water once a week, always keeping the roots below the waterline.
After this, you can decide what to do next. If you prefer having green onions in your garden, you can try to plant them but remember that green onions won’t survive extremely hot summers or very cold winters.
As an alternative, you can simply keep the green onions in the jar. Just snip off what you need when you need it.
Eventually, the water won’t be enough to sustain your green onion plant and you will see the foliage start to droop. While this is inevitable it won’t happen for a few months so the method is still an excellent way to have continuous green onions for free.
Perfect for all manner of dishes, green onions are both flavorful and easy to grow. When it is time to harvest green onions in the late spring, look for a height of 6 to 8 inches and a small diameter. Pick them and eat them right away, store them in the fridge for a week, or even re-grow them in a jar of water.