Without onions, there would be no flavor in food. Growing onions in your garden is relatively easy but when it comes to knowing when they are ready, that is the hard part. Read on to find when onions are ready to harvest and how to store them.
Onions take quite a while to grow and because they are underground it can be hard to know when they are ready
How to know when to plant onions? . Around mid-summer, you will start to see signs that your onions are getting ready to be harvested. The stalks will start to turn yellow, and then eventually brown. Furthermore, they will start to bend over. If you want to speed up the process, you can actually bend the stalks yourself, signaling to the plant that they need to stop growing. By end of summer, either in August or September, stop watering your onions so they can dry out a bit. Then, with a small shovel gently dig around the onion to loosen the soil. Grasp the stalk and pull your onions out of the ground. They don’t grow very deep so you’ll be able to accomplish this quite easily. Once harvested, leave your onions to cure for a few days. Then, you can either braid the onions together by their stalks or place them loosely in a mesh bag. Store your onions in a cool, dark place where there is no chance of moisture getting in.
What month do you harvest onions?
Onions are ready in late summer. While the variety of your onions and your location will determine their exact harvest date, you can expect to have onions in August or September.
The biggest takeaway is that onions don’t do well with moisture. If the weather is starting to turn or a large amount of rainfall is expected, you should harvest your onions right away.
How do you know when your onions are ready to harvest?
Onions will start letting you know they are ready to harvest a few weeks before you can start removing them from the ground. The first sign is that the top foliage of the onion plant starts to turn yellow.
There will still be some green parts, but the lower leaves will turn yellow and eventually brown. The stalks will also start to droop over.
What happens if you don’t harvest onions?
Unlike other vegetables that will start to rot if left in the ground, onions will do the opposite. Fully mature onions can be left in the ground for surprising results.
When left through winter, a mature onion will actually start to multiply. The result is a bunch of onion sections, similar to garlic.
These sections can then be dug up and re-planted. Then, come late summer, you can harvest all these onions.
For those that want to move to a more perennial garden, in that you don’t have to continually buy and plant seeds, leaving a few onions in the ground is actually an economical next step.
An alternative is to grow onion seeds. Leave your onions in the ground and don’t harvest them. In the middle of the foliage, you will see a large flower stalk.
Let the flower grow and wait until its petals have fallen off. Then you will see a grouping of pods. Be careful when opening them as you will find tiny onion seeds.
You can then plant these seeds in the fall and come spring more onions will grow.
How to harvest onions?
Picking the right time to harvest onions is important because if you leave them too long in the garden, they won’t be very edible. Start by monitoring your onions for signs of flower growth.
Once onions start to flower, which is preceded by the onions sending up large flower stalks, it is too late. When onions start to flower, it means the bulbs are no longer growing. There is a silver lining, however.
Simply take these onions out of the ground when you notice them flowering. While you can’t store these onions, you can certainly still use them within the next few days.
After you notice your onion foliage starting to turn yellow, you should stop watering the plants. This way the onions can actually start to cure on their own while still underground.
Furthermore, while onion foliage turns from yellow to brown before dying completely, you can actually hasten the process by bending the tops of the onions over. This will speed things along so you can harvest your onions sooner.
With a small trowel, loosen the dirt around your onions. You want to be careful not to accidentally cut into the onions, so dig wider, just in case the onions are quite large.
Onions need to be harvested in dry conditions. If the ground becomes too soggy, they will start to rot. While your onions should be ready in late summer, if they aren’t they should still come out of the ground.
It’s better to have smaller onions than rotten onions.
Finally, as long as it is dry and your onion tops are mostly brown, you can now harvest your onions. Gently tug on the tops and your onions should pop up.
The onions won’t be too deep in the soil so simply pulling on the tops should be enough to get them out of the ground. Just be careful as you don’t want to bruise your onions. If they are bruised, they could start to rot while in storage.
How to store onions?
Now that your onions are out of the ground, it’s time to prepare them for storage. The first decision to make is if you are going to store the onions loosely or in a braid.
If you will be braiding the onions, be sure to keep the tops on. If you want them loose, trim the tops so they are only 2 inches in length.
Leave your onions to cure for two to three days. Place them on the ground in a cool, dry space, such as a garage or shed.
After your onions are cured, you can now store them. There are many options to choose from.
If you are braiding your onions, take three and braid the stalks together, like hair. You can them hang them upside down.
For loose onions, you can place them in a mesh bag or a wooden crate. There should be enough airflow that moisture won’t interact with them. Don’t stack your onions more than two pieces high.
The best place to store onions is in a cool, dry place. The optimal temperature is between 40 and 60 degrees Farhenheit.
While it’s tempting to store your onions in your kitchen for convenience, this will be too warm and too humid. Your onions will last better in a garage or shed.
Periodically check your onions. If any of them have started to rot or sprout tops, remove them so they don’t infect the other onions. If they still look good, you can use these onions.
For those that have large cellars, don’t store your onions with pears or apples. These foods give off an ethylene gas which will counteract the dried state of onions.
Furthermore, be careful what is stored next to your onions. Even when stored, onions can give off a strong odor that will mix with other fruit’s natural tastes.
If stored properly, onions can last for quite a few months. If you have a mixture of onions, sweet onions should be used first as they will not last as long as other varieties.
Should you wash onions after harvesting?
No, you should not wash onions after harvesting. If there is dirt on the onions, gently brush them off.
Wet onions will quickly rot and any moisture from washing will penetrate deep into their layers.
If you want to wash your onions, do so right before you cook with them. However, onions have a lot of layers and usually all you have to do is remove the top layer and the insides will not be dirty.
Can you eat onions immediately after harvesting?
Yes, you can definitely eat onions fresh from the garden. While onions are a great crop to grow as they keep for quite a while, you can also pick an onion right before you need it for dinner.
Onions have a window of a few weeks in which they are ready for harvest. If you aren’t sure if they are quite ready yet, you may want to test them by pulling one out. This is a good way to taste their readiness and even if they are still on the small size, you can simply add it to your dinner recipe.
Harvesting onions is all about monitoring them from above ground. Look for the onion stalks to turn yellow and then brown. Gently pull on the onions and they will pop out. You can store onions in a cool, dark place for several months.