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What Are Prairie Onions: Information On Allium Stellatum Wildflowers

What Are Prairie Onions: Information On Allium Stellatum Wildflowers


By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Prairie onions are a member of the Allium family, which includes onions and garlic. The bulb-forming plants are native to the central part of the United States but have been introduced in many other areas. Wild prairie onions are edible and good used raw or cooked. Prairie onions in the garden add a natural grace, with their height and structure blending perfectly with cultivated plants and other native perennials.

What are Prairie Onions?

Wild prairie onions abound on dry inhospitable prairies and rocky slopes. What are prairie onions? Known as Allium stellatum wildflowers, prairie onions are 1 to 2 foot (30-60 cm.) tall perennial herbs that form edible bulbs. They produce a starry head of clustered florets culminating in a globe-like inflorescence.

Related to the Lily family, these plants are also called prairie onions due to their tenacious habit of growing on rocky hillsides. The foliage is insignificant and forms in early spring before the stalk begins to grow. Once the stalk rises, the leaves die back leaving a clean vertical green stem topped with the spectacular pink, white, or lavender flower.

Prairie Onions in the Garden

Wild prairie onions produce copious tiny black seeds once the flowers are done. These self-sow readily but the resulting seedlings take several years to form bulbs and bloom. Mature plants of Allium stellatum wildflowers form bulblets over time. These are offset bulbs that are generally vegetative.

The easiest way to add prairie onions to the landscape is through bulbs or division of existing plants. Bulbs need protection from hot sun and prefer partial shade and moist soil. Prairie onion care is minimal. The plants tend to naturalize when planted in preferred locations and the flowers will rise annually in mid to late spring.

Planting Wild Prairie Onions

Prepare the soil in an appropriate site by digging at least 6 inches (15 cm.) into the soil and tilling while adding generous amounts of leaf litter or compost. This will loosen the soil and increase the porosity so the bulbs don’t get soggy and rot. Add a handful of bone meal and work into the soil as well.

Plant the bulbs with the root side down, pointed side up. They need to be at least 4 inches (10 cm.) deep in the soil but not more than 8 inches (20 cm.). Cover with the amended soil and pat down gently.

The best time for planting is early spring, but in mild areas you can plant in fall.

Caring for Your Native Onions

The most important detail of prairie onion care is division. Because the seeds take such a long time to produce a flowering plant, the best way to ensure blooms is from divisions of the bulbs. Each division will become a new plant.

Additionally, good drainage and once a year fertilizer or bone meal in spring will get your wild prairie onion off to a good start for the blooming season.

Sample some of the new stems as a substitute for chives or pull out the bulblets for roasted onions. Wild prairie onions are an excellent replacement for any regular onion. Enjoy their sweet pungency and ease of care.

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Allium Species, Drummond's Onion, Prairie Onion

Category:

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Foliage:

This plant is resistant to deer

Foliage Color:

Height:

Spacing:

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 °C (-30 °F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 °C (-25 °F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 °C (30 °F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 °C (35 °F)

Where to Grow:

Danger:

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:

Allow seedheads to dry on plants remove and collect seeds

Regional

This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

San Antonio, Texas(3 reports)

Gardeners' Notes:

On Jul 8, 2013, StillPlaysWDirt from (Becky), Lipan, TX (Zone 7b) wrote:

This plant grows wild on my property and has survived drought and being mowed over without any change in performance. Not very interesting of a plant compared to the things I've intentionally cultivated here, but it blooms with no attention whatsoever and is a cute little flower so I guess I'll keep it around. I collected a lot of seed from it for the first time this year and intend to scatter it around the yard in places that could use a little cheering up :)

On May 6, 2011, patkman from Blanco, TX wrote:

I don't grow wild garlic, but it occurs as a volunteer under my fig tree on the afternoon sun side, and has done so for many years. I water it about once a month if the weather is really dry. I have also ignored watering it and it does quite well on it's own.
I'm in downtown Blanco. I have also seen it growing wild in yards in Wimberley.

A question: How do I prepare it for table use?

On Apr 12, 2008, jojoringer from Joey in Conroe, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

This plant grow along shady edges of my yard. Unfortunately one of these edges is where I decided to put perennial bed. It keeps popping up even through heavy mulch. It's not a terrible eyesore so I guess I will learn to coexist with it. It does make mowing the grass more fragrant.

On Apr 17, 2007, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Wild Garlic, Drummond's Onion, Drummond Wild Onion, Prairie Onion (Allium drummondii) is the most widely distributed wild onion species in Texas growing natively in various soils and vegetative areas. The 3/4 inch wide blooms have tepals not petals, appear on a slender flower stem, are clustered in an umbel. They produce shiny black seeds. An asexual form produces tiny bulbets at the tips of the flower stalks. This species may be distinguished from Allium canadense by examining the underground bulbs. The outer covering of Allium drummondii bulbs are papery wheras, Allium canadense bulbs have a criss-cross fiber-type coating surrounding them. Both smell oniony and both types of bulbs are edible. Just do not confuse them with crow-poison, false garlic (Nothoscordum bivalve) which neither sm. read more ells like garlic nor onion and is poisonous.

On Aug 12, 2006, dmj1218 from west Houston, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:


North Dakota State University

(Click the image below to view a high-resolution image that can be downloaded)

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

“No onions on my sandwich, please.” my 8-year-old daughter said. I was chopping onions and other vegetables as I assembled panini sandwiches to cook on our electric sandwich grill.

“How about just a little onion for flavor?” I asked.

“Remember the customer is always right, and this customer doesn’t like onions!” she exclaimed.

My little “customer” has eaten more finely minced onions without knowing it than she could ever imagine.

“Well, I don’t allow barefoot customers in my kitchen when I create my special sandwiches,” I noted. I was trying to throw her off my culinary trail.

She walked around the side of our cupboard. She pointed at my bare feet, shook her head and grinned at me. I guess I had to follow the rules, too. Obviously, fine mincing wasn’t going to work under my daughter’s watchful eye.

“Okay, no onions on your sandwich today,” I said.

Onions are the third most popular vegetable in the U.S. On average, every person in the U.S. eats about 20 pounds of onions annually. Onions are widely used in salsa, soup, sandwiches, salads, main dishes, and appetizers such as onion rings and onion blossoms.

Available in white, yellow and red varieties, onions provide a lot more than flavor. A cup of chopped onion adds just 64 calories to your recipe, along with nearly 3 grams of fiber, plus vitamin C, folate (a B vitamin) and several minerals.

Onions contain some health-promoting antioxidant compounds that are being studied for their role in fighting heart disease, cancer and even osteoporosis and ulcers. “Quercetin” is among the natural antioxidants abundant in onions.

Despite their culinary popularity, onions have a reputation for causing bad breath and crying, not necessarily in that order.

As for the breath issue, you can visit with people who also have been eating onions, or you can try some other remedies. Drinking lemonade, rinsing your mouth with lemon water or chewing on some parsley, a natural breath freshener, have been noted as helpful in reducing halitosis. Or grab your toothbrush and some minty toothpaste and find a sink.

Known for their tendency to promote weeping, onions contain sulfur compounds that might irritate our eyes. To lessen this tendency, the National Onion Association suggests chilling the onions for about 30 minutes before peeling and cutting. Because much of the sulfur compounds are concentrated in the root end of the onion, start by cutting the onion from the tip, and cut the root end last.

Are you ready to try a new onion recipe? If you did some advance planning last spring, your onions are ready for harvesting about now.

When selecting onions at the grocery store, look for firm bulbs without cuts or bruises. For the best flavor, clean and cut the onions as close as you can to their actual use in your recipes because the aroma tends to increase while the flavor decreases after cutting. However, you can safely store chopped onion in a sealed container in your refrigerator for a week.

As we wind down the outdoor grilling season in the Midwest, try this flavorful grilled onion recipe from the National Onion Association. Check out other onion recipes at http://onions-usa.org/.

Herb-buttered Grilled Onion Bloom

1 yellow onion (2 1/2 inches in diameter)*

1/2 tsp. dried oregano or thyme

1/4 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled

Cut 1/2 inch off the top of the onion, then peel the outer layer and discard. Cut the onion into about 12 vertical wedges, leaving the root base intact. Set the onion on a 12- by 10-inch foil sheet. Top the onion with butter and spices. Add salt and pepper if desired. Wrap foil around the onion, pinching edges together tightly. Place foil package on a rack over medium heat in a barbecue grill and grill for 25 to 30 minutes or until juicy and tender.

  • If you use a larger onion, adjust the recipe accordingly.

Makes two servings. Each serving has 50 calories, 3 grams (g) of fat, 1 g of protein, 6 g of carbohydrate, 1 g of fiber and 0 milligrams of sodium.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and associate professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)

NDSU Agriculture Communication – Aug. 25, 2011


Fast Growing Vegetables for Your Garden

1. Arugula

Ready to Harvest: approximately 25 days

Arugula is a peppery-flavored green that makes a great addition to your salads. It’s also great as a pesto-type sauce for homemade noodles. Simply direct sow the seeds and you can start harvesting the leaves in about 25-35 days.

It doesn’t care for hot temperatures, so try growing arugula in a shady spot in your garden during the summer months. You can sprinkle some more seeds in the arugula garden bed every few weeks for a constant harvest of arugula greens. Also, if your arugula bolts and flowers, the flowers are edible and make a tasty addition to your salads, too.

2. Asian Greens

Ready to Harvest: approximately 21 days

There are tons of Asian greens for quick growing vegetables for your garden, including Bok Choy, Tatsoi (an Asian spinach), and Mizuna (a Japanese mustard green). These are especially great to plant in early spring and early fall. You can just pick small leaves from most Asian greens around 21 days, or wait 60 days to harvest entire heads of produce.

Bok Choy: A Chinese cabbage that can be used like traditional cabbages (try making sauerkraut with it!) and the smaller leaves can be harvested in about 25 days.

Mizuna: A milder flavored mustard green from Japan, it can grow in the shadier spots in your garden because it only needs 3-5 hours of sunlight to grow. It is ready to harvest in about 21 days.

Tatsoi: An Asian spinach variety that can be harvested in about 35-40 days. The leaves taste more like spinach when they are small, so start picking around that 35 day mark.

3. Beets

Ready to Harvest: approximately 30 days for leaves or 55 days for beet roots

Beets are a great root vegetable option for a fast growing garden harvest. Whether you love them roasted as a side dish or you love to enjoy pickled beets (here’s a great pickled beets recipe with canning instructions), you can rest assured that you’ll have a harvest sooner rather than later (especailly since young/small beets usually taste better than the matured ones).

Even better, you can enjoy the beet leaves in your salad mixes even earlier. Just don’t harvest all of the leaves in one setting or the root won’t develop. Some varieties of beets mature earlier than others, so watch the labels when you buy your beet seeds! This Early Wonder Beet variety is a great option for your fast growing garden crops.

4. Broccoli

Ready to Harvest: approximately 60 days

You might be surprised to see broccoli on a list of fast growing vegetables. However, there are a few varieties that are quicker to harvest. The most popular quick-growing broccoli variety is Broccoli Raab, also known as Rapini. This is still in the Broccoli family but it produces tiny broccoli shoots that you harvest continually instead of one large head of broccoli.

There are a few standard broccoli varieties that are quick growers too, but you usually end up with multiple smaller heads of produce instead of one large one. What’s even better about growing broccoli is they can stand colder temperatures and a few frosts, so it’s a great early spring vegetable to grow, even in cold climates like here in Wyoming.

5. Bush Beans

Ready to Harvest: approximately 50-60 days

Beans are one of the easiest crops to grow, so they’re perfect for beginner gardeners. Just give ’em full sun and some daily watering and watch for some pests, and you should get a pretty decent crop. Bush beans are quicker to be ready to harvest than the pole bean varieties and they can produce tons of food for your family.

As long as you keep picking the beans, the plants can produce lots of food for you. When we can’t keep up with eating them fresh, I love preserving the extras by freezing them for later use or making pickled green beans. Yum.

If you plant more bean seeds about 14 days after the first ones are sown, you can extend your bean harvest farther into the summer, which really helps stock up the freezer for the winter.

6. Carrots

Ready to Harvest: approximately 55 days

Carrots are usually not the quickest vegetable to grow, however, if you choose the correct varieties and you harvest them while they are still small, you can enjoy carrots in about 55 days. And bonus: the baby carrots are often sweeter than when you allow them to mature. Choose a variety like Little Fingers carrots, which are supposed to stay small anyway and are one of the quicker varieties of carrots to grow.

Another great thing about growing carrots for your fast growing vegetable patch is that you can eat the carrot tops, too. They make a great pesto-type sauce or use the young carrot tops as a substitute for parsley in your recipes.

7. Cress

Ready to Harvest: approximately 15 days

Cress is a peppery-tasting green that you can grow in your garden for a super quick crop. You can start harvesting the leaves when the plant is only 2 inches tall. It makes a great microgreen or sprouts option as well. The one downside is that cress does not like heat, so grow this in your early spring and then again in the fall.

8. Cucumbers

Ready to Harvest: approximately 55 days

Cucumbers are a great versatile vegetable for growing in your garden. You can grow the ‘slicing’ varieties for cucumbers on your salads or the ‘pickling’ varieties and preserve them by either canning them, making quick pickles, or fermenting them (my favorite way to preserve pickles!). Alot of people have issues with getting crunchy and crispy homegrown pickles, but don’t worry, I’ve got plenty of great tips for getting crunchy pickles.

It’s best to grow cucumber plants on trellises if you can, since they like to sprawl. Harvest both varieties of cucumbers early for more sturdy produce. Make sure you pay attention to the varieties you choose, since some varieties take longer before harvest than others.

9. Green Onions

Ready to Harvest: approximately 60 days

Green onions are a quick growing onion that resembles a thicker-stemmed chive. You can start harvesting the tender young green stalks around 60 days and you can usually get a few harvests from the same plant.

10. Kale

Ready to Harvest: approximately 40-50 days

Kale is a hearty and cold-tolerant plant for your quick-growing garden. If you want mature kale leaves, you need to wait at least 40-50 days before harvesting (depending on the variety). Baby kale leaves can start being picked as early as 25 days. As long as you pick only some leaves from each plant, kale plants can produce leaves for almost the entire gardening season.

There are tons of different varieties of kale, not just the curly-leaf type you remember as a garnish on the side of your plate at restaurants. So have some fun trying all sorts of types of kale to find your family’s favorite.

11. Lettuce

Ready to Harvest: approximately 30 days

Lettuce greens are an incredibly versatile plant for your garden. There are so many varieties to choose from. They are pretty easy to grow and, depending on the variety you choose, you can get some lettuce varieties ready in only 30 days.

As long as you harvest only a few leaves from each lettuce plant (start with the exterior leaves), your lettuce plants can last a long time into the gardening season. Choose a variety that’s best for your gardening climate if you can. Some types will bolt in heat quicker than others. Most lettuces are quite hardy in cold climates.

12. Mustard Greens

Ready to Harvest: approximately 30 days

Mustard greens can give your fresh salads a tasty spicy kick. I also love them sauteed with bacon as a side dish. Tney are easy to grow, though they bolt in hot weather in a similar way as lettuce greens. The baby mustard green leaves are ready to harvest in just 30 days and the mature leaves in about 40. If you just harvest a few leaves from each plant, they can last longer in your gardening season.

13. Okra

Ready to Harvest: approximately 50 days

You either love or hate okra. If you love it, you’ll be delighted to know that it’s a quick growing vegetable option for your garden. Each plant will give you lots and lots of okra, so you don’t make the rookie mistake of planting a huge bed of them (unless you really love them).

In just 50 days, you’ll start harvesting okra for your favorite meals. Fried okra is a popular dish, and many people use them in stews or soups, too.

14. Peas

Ready to Harvest: approximately 55 days

Peas are easy to grow in the garden, however, it does take quite a few plants to get a decent side dish of peas for dinner. They also prefer cooler weather, so you can expect a crop in early spring and then the plants are done growing once the summer heat starting rolling in.

One nice thing is that you can eat either the pea pods OR you can eat the pea shoots. So if your pea crop doesn’t look like it’s gonna come in before the summer heat turns up, you can always just harvest the pea shoots and eat them instead. They taste like the peas and you can saute them in butter for a simple side dish.

15. Radishes

Ready to Harvest: approximately 25 days

If you’ve only ever had the generic radishes from the grocery store, I strongly encourage you to try growing your own. Homegrown radishes, especially if picked early, are crunchy and pleasant-tasting additions to your salads. They are one of the quickest vegetables to be ready to harvest in your garden.

There are tons of varieties, some are even white and look more like carrots than your traditional radish types. Some radish varieties are sweet instead of spicy, too, so have fun with your selections! Radishes are very easy to grow, so they are perfect for beginner gardeners or in a kids’ garden.

16. Spinach

Ready to Harvest: approximately 30 days

Spinach is easy to grow and is another great greens option to grow in your quick growing garden this year. Some spinach varieties are ready to harvest in just 30 days. You can grow spinach in part shade, which is preferred since it bolts easily in hot weather. I love that you can eat spinach in salads, sauteed as a side dish, or put it in smoothies, too. It’s a great versatile veggie for recipes!

17. Summer Squash and Zucchini

Ready to Harvest: approximately 45-50 days

If you choose the early varieties and pick them while they are young, summer squash and zucchini are the perfect crops for your fast growing garden. They love warm soil, so you should plant them for a summer crop.

They are usually pretty easy to grow, and each plant will give you tons of produce (did you know there’s a holiday on August 8 known as “National Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day”?). You can also eat the flowers, which are great stuffed or fried.

18. Turnips

Ready to Harvest: approximately 45 days

Turnips are an easy growing root vegetable, and, depending on the variety, can be ready to eat in around 45 days. They are very non-fussy and can be grown in both cold and warm climates pretty easily. Harvest them when they are kinda small if you want sweet and tender turnips.

A bonus is that turnip greens are also edible and pretty darn delicious. The greens are super tasty when sauteed with bacon (I mean, everything is better with bacon, ya know?).


How to Eat Wild Onions

Wild onion, also known as wild garlic, is found in lawns, fields and even randomly growing in gardens. The plant, a close relative to the typical onions grown from bulbs and seeds, has a slightly similar yet distinctly milder taste when compared to other onions. The smell is a combination of both onion and garlic, making it very discernible.

Verify that the wild onions you have found are in fact wild onions. Pull the plant out of the ground. Tug gently and wiggle the base of the plant to ensure the bulb comes out with the plant. Know that the bulbs will be much smaller than traditional onions, even spring onions.

Smell the bulbs. You will notice a distinct scent of light onion and garlic. If you do not detect the smell right away, use your fingernails to scrape some of the surface skin off of a bulb and smell the plant again. If in doubt, discard the plant and find another with a stronger, more recognizable smell.

Trim the greens and roots off of the plant. Use only the bulb for eating. Peel back the outer layer of the onion and use thinly sliced on salads, added whole or chopped to soups and stews or even saute in olive oil to add to dishes calling for onions or garlic.


How to Start Onions From Seed:

You’ll Need:

1. Why Seeds?

When a lot of people plant onions, they don’t start their own seeds. In fact, they order what we call ‘sets.’ They look like tiny onions when in reality, that is basically what they are. They are onion bulbs.

Now, a lot of people will tell you this is the way to go for simplicity’s sake. That is what I was told when I first began growing onions.

However, I noticed that every year I grew them, the onions would ‘bolt’ before I ever had a decent-sized onion. Bolt means that the top of the onion would just grow rapidly and go to seed, so I could plant more onions.

So I began asking local farmers in my area what they do to grow onions. I was stunned when most told me that they started them from seed. The reason being is that the ‘sets’ that you buy are usually the second year plants. This would explain why they were bolting in my garden.

From then on, I’ve stuck to growing my onions from seed and have been very satisfied.

There are other benefits to growing your onions from seed as well. You also get more variety. It is much easier to find different varieties of onion seeds than to find different types of onion sets.

If you’d like to grow a wide array of different types of onions, then you’ll be happy with how much easier that can be if you start them from seed.

2. Sow the Seeds

Now that we’ve established why I prefer to start my onions from seeds instead of ‘sets’ or bulbs let’s get busy talking about how we start those seeds.

To begin, you’ll need a 4×6 pan. I usually use an aluminum pan similar to what you would use to make a lasagna in.

Then you’ll fill the pan about halfway with seed starting mix. I prefer to purchase seed starting mix just for simplicity’s sake, but you can also make it yourself if you prefer.

Once your pan is filled halfway, you’ll plant 2 rows of onion seeds in the pan. Then you’ll cover them the rest of the way with more seed starting mix. You want the pan to be mainly full.

Now that you’ve got your seeds in place, it is time to move on to creating the proper setting for growth.

3. Create the Right Environment

So we all know that seeds have to have a good environment to germinate. This is the environment that encourages the seed to sprout and no longer lay dormant.

Well, you have to create this environment for your seeds. You’ll place your pan with the seeds in a location where they can be warm without being made too hot.

So if you have a wood stove or a fireplace that you use regularly, then you might want to place them a few feet from it for them to get heat from it.

Also, you can place the pan on top of your fridge where it is nice and warm to encourage germination.

Finally, if you just don’t have the set-up to germinate your seeds with the other methods provided, then you might want to consider a seed starter heat mat. It is a mat that fits under your pan of seeds that will produce warmth. You can purchase a seed starter heat mat, or you can make one yourself.

Once your seeds are in a happy, warm location, then you’ll need just to let them be. Make sure that the soil stays moist by using a spray bottle of water and misting the ground when it is dry.

Finally, you’ll need to be patient as the seeds can take around 2 weeks for them to germinate.

4. Give Them a Trim

Once your seeds have germinated, you’ll realize this because you’ll see little sprouts of life sticking up out of the soil.

So you’ll need to be patient and allow the onions to grow. You will continue misting the soil as needed.

Again, you don’t want to overwater, so check your soil daily. When you stick your finger in the ground and it is dry, then you’ll know it is time to mist the soil again. Overwatering young seeds are as big of a threat to them as not watering enough.

However, once you see that your onions have a sprout on them that stands about 4 or 5-inches tall, you’ll know it is time for a trim. You’ll use kitchen scissors to trim the sprout back to a more manageable size.

In our experience, we usually cut it back to about 2-inches or so. You don’t want to cut the onion back down to the dirt, but you just don’t want them to look like a troll with a crazy hairstyle either.

Once you’ve trimmed your onions, you’ll need to keep nourishing them and caring for them until it is time to plant.

5. Harden Off and Planting

Before you can introduce your onion sprouts to the cold, cruel world, you’ll need to begin by hardening them off. This is a good way to get them acclimated to the outdoor temperatures and help them to have greater success when planted.

So when your plants are about 2-4 weeks from planting, then start setting them outside. You’ll begin by putting them out for about 20 minutes and building up to a couple of hours (or more.)

Depending on where you live you’ll plant your onions in late April or May. Whenever the ground has thawed, and the last frost is done, you should be good to go. When planting onions, you dig little holes for them.

So you’ll leave about 6-inches of space between each planting location. When you have your holes dug, you’ll do just as you would if you had purchased ‘sets’ of onions. You’ll place 4 of each onion sprout in a hole.

Then you’ll cover the root of the onions and have little sprigs of onion sticking out of the ground. You’ll be sure to water the onions once they have been planted to give them a warm welcome to their new home.

6. Take Care of Them

Once your onions are in the ground and thriving, you’ll need to do a few things to care for them. Make sure that you keep the soil watered where they are. Every plant needs water. That is just a safe rule of thumb.

However, the biggest thing you need to do is to keep the weeds under control around your onions. Your onion will try to compete for nutrients with the weeds and sadly, will lose out.

If you want large homegrown onions, then you need to keep the weeds out of their turf. You’ll just need to be careful not to upset the bulb of the onion when weeding.

Which means you’ll use your hand to gently pull the weeds out from around and between your onions. If you do this, then your onions will hopefully thrive.

7. Harvest and Store

Okay, so you’ve started your onions from seed. You made it through the germination process, and they sprouted. You cared for them, hardened the sprouts off, and planted them successfully.

Now, you’ve managed to keep them watered, the weeds down, and have done all you can to produce a healthy crop of onions.

So now is the moment of truth. It is time to harvest them. You have different parts of the onion to collect at different times, so you’ll need to take note of this.

First, you can harvest the green sprouts on top of the onion. When they are around 6-inches in height, it is time to use your kitchen scissors and collect those. The taller they get, the stronger or more robust flavor they get as well.

If you want a mild onion flavoring, you’re better off harvesting at the 6-inches height.

Next, you’ll check your calendar for when you planted your onions. Onions take anywhere from 100-120 days to be ready to harvest. At this time, you’ll see if you’ve had any onions that have ‘bolted.’ We discussed earlier how some onions will go to seed.

If you find this, you need to cut the top of the onion off and dig the onion out of the ground (gently), so it can be used immediately.

Finally, between day 100 and day 120 you’ll pick a cool morning to harvest your onions. You can either gently pull the onion out of the ground, or you can gently dig the onion out of the ground with your gardening tools if the ground is harder .

Then it is time to cure your onions. You’ll lay them out on a flat surface where they will get lots of airflow. You can choose to leave them lying on a table in a shed or storage area that gets plenty of air. Leave them there for about 3 weeks. You’ll know they are done curing when the outer skin of the onion is crispy, and the stem is dried.

From there, you’ll cut the tops off of the onions where you leave only an inch of the stem.

Then store them in a basket that provides good airflow. Your onions should last around 3 months. Remember to store them where it is cooler. If there is too much warmth, then mold could form and will ruin your harvest and hard work.


Common Pests/Diseases

Ornamental onions, like their culinary cousins, don't attract too many pests. Deer and rodents avoid them.

They can get a few fungal diseases, like downy mildew and rot, but these are not as much of a problem in a flower border as they would be in a vegetable garden. To fix, avoid overhead watering and remove infected bulbs.

As far as insect pests, watch out for snails and slugs, as well as the allium leaf miner. However, since the foliage does not last very long, cosmetic damage to the leaves is not something to worry about.


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