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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #1
peebee
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Default How do I harvest onions?

This will be my first time to harvest sweet onions. Not sure if I leave the wilted leaves intact while drying(I've seen braids) or do I cut them before drying? I've seen both done in videos.
Also, do they get sweeter the longer you dry or not. What happens if you don't dry an onion and eat right away?
Thanks!
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #2
Father'sDaughter
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This is my first year growing sweet onions, but I have grown red onions in the past.

For the red ones I left the plants intact and hung them in bundles much like I do garlic. Shallots also get the same treatment. Both stored beautifully. Once they are fully dry, I'll trim them down and put them in a mesh bag which stays hanging in the basement (I still have a bag of shallots from last year that are holding out great).

As I know sweet onions likely won't store as well, my current plan is to just leave them in the ground and pull them up as I need them. I planted them primarily to use in tomato and onion salads (dressed simply with olive oil, salt, and oregano). Once tomato season is done, I'll pull up any that are remaining and find a use for them.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #3
peebee
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Yes Fathers Daughter, I plan to eat them in salads too! In fact I ate my first one today and it was delish! But now I'm on a mission to learn all I can about sweet onions, which varieties are very sweet, etc and I will try to find seeds too. Maybe I will do a new post asking for everyone's favorites. Thank you!
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #4
brownrexx
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The purpose of curing onions is for the neck of the onion to dry thoroughly and seal closed so that the bulb does not rot. I have always dried mine with the dry leaves intact and then cut them off several weeks later when I bring them into the house for storage. In my opinion cutting the leaves off early just allows more spores to enter the neck of the onion.

Unless you are eating them fresh, most people do not harvest their onions until the tops have fallen over in the garden. Some people even step on the leaves to push them over to kill the leaves before harvesting.

Garlic bulbs are supposed to be dried OUT of the sun and I think that onions are the same. I dry mine in a carport which has lots of airflow but no direct sun.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #5
clkeiper
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sweet onions are not the ones that are braided for storage. storage onions are braided and hung to dry or to use less space for in the kitchen.

don't try to braid them. they will rot.

eat them as soon as you want. they don't store long so getting sweeter as they dry won't be an issue. you cant keep them long enough to do that.

lay them out until the neck has dried out then trim them.

as for the tops... as per.... https://www.kitchengardenseeds.com/ifonion-garlic Harvesting, Curing and Storing Sweet or Pungent Globe Onions

Harvest Yellow Granex Sweet Onions as needed, any time from midsummer on, and use them within a month or two. Harvest Storage Onions a week or two after their stems have flopped over. Flopped stems signal that the plant has stopped growing and that the cherished Onions can be unearthed. If possible, harvest Onions during a stretch of dry weather. Pull them gently from the soil and handle with care to avoid bruising. Don’t remove any leaves. If the weather is dry, spread the Onions out right in the garden for a few days, but then transfer them to a warm, dry, well-ventilated place where they’ll be out of direct sunlight. A barn floor, garage floor or covered porch is good. As the Onions are curing, their leaves will gradually dry out, the neck just above the bulb will wither, and the bulb’s papery skin will be pulled tightly around the cloves. It may take up to a month for this to happen. Once the necks appear to be completely dry, use scissors or pruning shears to cut the stem about an inch above the bulb. If you can still see moisture in the stem, let the Onions cure for another week. Before storing, cull any Onion bulbs that are damaged or did not cure well. Use these up over the next couple weeks. Store the rest in mesh bags or small baskets with good ventilation. Keep them where it’s dry, dark and cool; 35 to 40 degrees F is ideal. (For next season's consideration, our favorite kitchen garden Storage Onions grown as sets include Yellow Stuttgarter, Red Wethersfield and White Ebenezer Onions. We also carry a Red, Yellow and White Onion Set Mixture for smaller-sized gardens that crave Onion diversity.)
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #6
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Thank you both for the info, good to know about the neck issue, it makes sense. Since I'm a newbie on onions I just went w/ the sets found in big box stores. Now that I'm more confident I will look for better varieties.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #7
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If you are anything like me they won't hang around long enough to rot.
I try to average one whole onion a day if not more.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peebee View Post
Thank you both for the info, good to know about the neck issue, it makes sense. Since I'm a newbie on onions I just went w/ the sets found in big box stores. Now that I'm more confident I will look for better varieties.


Next year try growing from seeds -- it's really easy to do and any extra seeds stay viable for a couple of years. I start mine inside around mid to late January, and plant them out in late April. Other than light, water, and a little dilute fertilizer from time to time, you just need to give the seedlings a hair cut when they get to tall and start flopping over. The trimmings can be used like chives.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #9
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Has anyone tried growing your own sets? I have some seeds that I didn't have space to grow this year. So I was thinking, how about growing sets this summer, and avoid the crowding that happens under lights in the winter. From what I've read, it's easy to do.... just don't give them too much space or water.
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peebee View Post
Yes Fathers Daughter, I plan to eat them in salads too! In fact I ate my first one today and it was delish! But now I'm on a mission to learn all I can about sweet onions, which varieties are very sweet, etc and I will try to find seeds too. Maybe I will do a new post asking for everyone's favorites. Thank you!
One thing to keep in mind is what "day length" the onions are. A good explanation from Willhite Seed in Texas (an old copy I made from 2015, not on their site any longer):

Choose the Right Onion for Your Latitude. Day length is the signal that tells most onions that it's time to stop growing vegetatively -- putting growth into forming leaves -- and time to start forming a bulb. Long day varieties of onions need exposure to 14 to 16 hours of daylight to bulb up. These onions grow well north of 35 degrees latitude, or approximately above a line drawn through northern North Carolina, Oklahoma, Arizona to central California. These are the onions that are grown for summer harvest in the northern half of the country. They are planted in early spring, putting on vegetative growth until the lengthening days of early summer trigger bulb formation. Long day onions generally have a pungent flavor and store well.

"South of 35 degrees latitude, with its shorter summer day lengths, gardeners need to grow short day onion varieties, ones that form bulbs when the days are 10 to 12 hours long. Short day onions are planted in the fall in the south and grown through the winter for spring harvest or sown in very early spring. Some of the well-known sweet onions are short day varieties. Because of their higher water content, most short day onions do not store well and are best for fresh eating."

"Modern plant breeding has produced intermediate day, or day neutral, onion varieties. These varieties aren't as sensitive to day length and bulb up well in response to 12 to 14 hour days. They grow well across a broad range of the country. Intermediate day onions are usually planted in the spring."

I'm latitude 33.36. It seems that while seed companies sell lots of long day varieties, the list of short days and intermediates is short. I've had success here with fall-planted Australian Brown (from Baker Creek), a regular-type intermediate onion. The sweet Granex Yellow (think Vidalia) grows so slowly for me so I'm still working on sweets. I'd like to try the Texas 1015Y, a big Texas sweet that's traditionally planted Oct 15, hence the name.

So far it seems that with our on and off winter spells of cold/warm, a lot of varieties bolt in this garden. Australian Brown has only done that once to me. This year only three of those onions bolted which surprised me a ton as we had a lot of cold/warm/cold spells.

Trial and error will be probably your best guide. It will be interesting to see what varieties others suggest as I'm still looking too.

Last edited by GoDawgs; 3 Weeks Ago at 07:39 AM.
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