Fruit and Vegetables

Growing onions

Growing onions

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The onion is a vegetable that, in order to grow well and develop, needs a climate that does not present too many thermal excursions. It is resistant to cold, but needs a few hours of natural light every day: when we choose the soil, it is therefore good to keep this need in mind, and opt for a position in which the plants are exposed to the sun.
It is also necessary to avoid a soil that is too compact: the onion needs light and well-draining soil, because it is necessary to avoid water stagnation, which would cause the plant to rot. For this we need to prepare the soil well, dig it and fertilize it before sowing or planting the onions. It is recommended to do this a couple of months before the planned sowing date. It is not necessary for the digging to be too deep, as the roots of the onions do not sink very deeply: about twenty centimeters will be sufficient. It is advisable to fertilize with manure, which is suitable for this type of vegetables.
It is advisable to plant the onions at the end of summer and at the end of winter: these two seasonal intervals have in fact the most suitable climate for these plants.
In case it has been decided for sowing, it is sufficient to dig shallow holes (about three centimeters), to put the seeds, which will then be covered with soil and watered.
Those who only have a terrace or a balcony, know that the cultivation of potted onions is very difficult, because these vegetables require a lot of space. You can still decide to try with very long rectangular vases, placing only a few plants in each vase.

Distance to plant the onions

The holes must be about ten centimeters apart (the same distance to be observed between the rows). In the case in which the plants are sown instead in a seedbed, the same must be extracted when they are about fifteen centimeters high, to be planted in holes about five centimeters deep.
For the planting of the bulbs, it is necessary to respect the distance of twenty centimeters between one and the other, and about thirty between one row and another. This type of cultivation is recommended especially for onions to be used fresh.

Family and gender
Liliaceae, Allium
temperatures Germination 0-26 ° C
Ground neutral with light texture not too rich
Sowing Variable period depending on the variety: February-April for industrial onions; winter for bulbs
Irrigation Irrigate frequently, keep moist during germination, suspend 3 weeks from collection
Collection When the leaves lose firmness and bend in the final part. Variable period depending on the variety
Composting Numerous mineral fertilizers in light quantities NPK


Onions do not need much water. It will therefore be necessary to water our cultivation only when the soil is now dry, and there will be no trace of moisture left over from the previous watering. This rule must be scrupulously followed, as the onion roots, which remain on the surface, are particularly vulnerable to mold and rot: stagnant water can be fatal for plants. The growth of the onions can be helped, from the moment they start to germinate, with a liquid fertilizer dissolved in the water of the watering. Another important operation for the correct growth of onions is weeding, which is used to eliminate infesting weeds, which during the life of the plant, are born among the shoots. It is necessary to remove them, as they remove nutrients from the onions.
The operation can be done by hand (if the cultivated land is not too large) or with a special rake.

Harvesting and drying

Depending on the climate, it will take about three or four months to harvest the onions. The most evident sign of this maturation is the yellowing of the stem that comes out of the ground. We must wait until it is completely yellow: at that point, we will be able to harvest the onions by pulling them out of the ground. Then we need to provide for drying: simply, it is sufficient to leave it on the ground under the sun, until the stem has become dry. At that point, our onions will be ready to be stored for food: it is recommended to place them in wooden boxes, in a room where there is air exchange, and that is not damp (humidity would make the vegetables moldy ). A cellar is ideal for storing this type of vegetables.

The diseases

Among the greatest enemies of the onion is the rot of the roots, caused by the stagnation of water in the soil (for this we must make sure we do not over-irrigate our cultivation). But it is not the only thing that threatens the health of our onions. These plants are in fact prey to worms that attack the leaves, fly larvae that eat the bulbs from the inside and molds that will make the whole plant wither. While for the root rot the only thing to do is to suspend the irrigations, to overcome the other problems we can procure specific products, for sale in stores specializing in horticultural items. The onion is also threatened by rust: an attack of this type is easily recognizable by the yellowish spots that appear on the green stem. However, it is treatable with a zinc-based treatment, to be repeated on a regular basis until the plant shows more spots.


Although many people are convinced that Garlic and Onion are two different species, in reality they are two varieties of the same species, at least since 2007, when Allium ascalonicum, the shallot, was reclassified to Allium cepa var. aggregatum.
The shallot is very similar to the onion but in the kitchen it is sometimes preferred to the classic onion because of its less strong and intense smell, especially during preparation and cooking. Unlike the onion, which is a single bulb, the shallot is composed of several bulbs that are gathered in a larger bulb.
The main scallion cultivars are the following: gray shallots, pink shallots, yellow shallots and brown-reddish shallots. In Italy we must remember a very important, valid and historical shallot, so much to deserve the PGI recognition, or the Romagna Scallion.

Cultivation of onions: Variety of onions

The onions are bulbous plants belonging to the family of the Alliaceae cultivated with the main purpose of a food use. There are numerous varieties that can have different organoleptic characteristics and be more suitable for some preparations than others. In Italy the varieties of onion grown are many and also depend on the type of climate and seasonality, given that not all of them grow at the same time. Among the most common and cultivated types it is possible to find, with regard to the spring / summer season, the white onion of May, the big flat of Italy, a variety that grows and is harvested in July and is characterized by the flattened shape; this type of onion can have different colors from white to red, as happens for a particular type cultivated in Abruzzo. Another very popular type is the round Milanese onion, which has a rather large spherical bulb, with a red skin and white pulp. Among the autumn and winter varieties, on the other hand, the most appreciated types are the round golden onion, a variety that lends itself well to a long conservation and is characterized by the round shape and the amber yellow skin, the white onion and the famous Tropea onion, which has a deep red skin, tending to purple.
Watch the video
  • When to plant tropea onions

    Tropea red onion is a tuberous plant that is grown in some Calabrian territories, between Nicotera and Catan

    visit: when to plant the tropea onions


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