I have always had much better luck starting my onions from seed than growing them from sets. Last year, my red onions from seed grew much larger and stored much better than my yellow onions from sets. Many of my set onions failed to do anything at all. Because they do much better and you can get a much great variety, I decided I wanted to grow all of my onions from seed this year. Onions are easy to start from seed, and since you start them 8-10 weeks before frost they’re a great way to cure that gardening itch you get in January.
This year I started 2 flats of red onions in late January and I started 4 flats of onions the day before yesterday (they’re a little late but they should do alright). Everyone has their own method for starting seeds, this is how I do it.
First I start with some soilless mix that I mix up myself and an empty seed flat (I reuse mine from year to year making sure to wash them well between uses). I usually mix some Dr Earth Starter Fertilizer in my starting mix and this has given me great luck with my seedlings.
Soilless mix is often dry and if it contains peat moss it doesn’t moisten evenly unless you use warm water. So usually I warm some water to moisten the trays, I let it cool before I add the seeds.
I sow a few seeds per cell in my flat and then I dust lightly with some more seed starting mix and then mist lightly with water to moisten the top. Then on the covers go waiting for the seeds to germinate. Some seeds like it warm, and onions are one of those, I use an electric blanket on low wrapped around the other flats to warm them (make sure you use plastic so you don’t get your electric blanket wet). Keep an eye out for germinating seeds and then under the grow light they go.
These are both heirloom onions that I got from Baker’s Seeds, I chose them for their keeping abilities. I’m also planting the rest of my Burpee Red Delicious Hybrid seeds for my red onions this year (those are pictured already sprouted above).
Jaune Paille Des Vertus (onion) – Introduced about 1793, this old onion is now hard to find. It is also called Brown Spanish by French seed house Vilmorin; in 1885 they said, “The winter supply of Paris and of a great part of Europe consists chiefly of this variety, which may be often seen hanging up in dwelling-houses in long hanks formed by interlacing and plaiting the withered leaves together.” The roots are flattened and 3″-4″ across, the skin is a brownish yellow and the flesh is flavorful. This antique is known for its keeping qualities that made it a standard in Europe for over 200 years.
Yellow of Parma (onion) – Long-day type–Large, golden onions are oblong-globe shaped. This late onion makes an excellent keeper; a rare and hard-to-find Italian variety.
I’ll keep you posted on how these onions do. I’m looking forward to enjoying these all next winter in my soups and stews.
Do you start onions from seed or you do you prefer sets? Or do you prefer buying them in the supermarket?Filed under Onions, Seed Sowing | Comments (20)