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The Results Are In….

July 26th, 2012

All of the ‘Copra’ onions have finally be harvested. If you remember, this year I’m experimenting to see which method of growing onions works best. I started ‘Copra’ seed back in late January. Plants of the same variety were also purchased from Johnny’s Seeds. Seeds were also sowed directly in the garden in March when I transplanted the ones from the seed starting area.

As expected, the onions grown from seed started in winter produced the biggest onions. The direct seeded onions might have been bigger had I thinned them, but I completely forgot to do so until it was too late. I’m going to save the small onions to plant next spring as sets, we’ll see how that works out. It’s amazing how they were all ready to harvest at roughly the same time.

From top to bottom:

  • direct seeded in garden on March 2
  • purchased plants transplanted in the garden on April 13
  • started in late January & transplanted in the garden March 24

I always figured that starting onions from seed would produce the best onions. After reading about how onions are treated with so many pesticides, fungicides and other chemicals I have decided that all my onions will be grown from seed. The plants I purchased from Johnny’s Seeds were from Dixondale farms. After reading on their website that they recommend using fungicides every two weeks to control blight and fungus I decided I really wan’t comfortable using their plants in the garden. It’s worth it to me, to take the time to start mine so I can ensure that my onions aren’t sprayed with fungicides, pesticides and other chemicals.

Now that all the onions are harvested it’s time to store them. I’m keeping all of the types separate to see which of the above store best. I’m also trying a few different storage methods. Most will be stored in shallow wooden boxes. I did braid some, both because they’re very pretty and I figure the old-timers probably knew a little something about keeping onions all winter. Seems to me the air circulation around onion braids hung from the ceiling would be much better than for those stored in a basket or crate. I’ll let you know.

Now it’s time to harvest all the red ‘Zepellin’ onions that were planted back in April as well. I’ve never grown many red onions because I’ve found they don’t store quite as long as yellow onions. This variety promises to store well so we shall see. When it comes to cooking I’m not choosy about the color/type of onion, I like them all. As long as I have onions in the pantry I’m one happy camper.

Do you like red, white, or yellow onions best?

19 Comments to “The Results Are In….”
  1. Joan on July 26, 2012 at 7:43 am

    Yellow or red. I’ve never grown white so I can’t compare… I’m growing Red Zepellin, Copra, and Ailsa Craig. I grew all of these last year from plants purchased from Johnny’s and had such great luck that I grew the same ones again this year. They’re sizing up nicely, and not even starting to brown up, so I should have a good crop again this year. The Ailsa’s we’ll need to eat up quickly or cut up and freeze. We were still eating both Copra’s and Red Zep’s in May this year.

    Reply to Joan's comment

  2. Nebraska Dave on July 26, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Susy, I’m with you. I don’t really care what kind of onions reside in my cabinet storage shelf. I just like to have onions cooked and raw in most every thing I eat. I did grow some this year from some sets that my neighbor gave me. The bunch he bought at the big box store was 100 sets. He have me about 25 and kept 25. The rest he gave to other neighbors in the area. I pulled out a few yesterday and they look amazing like the top picture of direct started from seed. I thought if you started onions from seed that it took two years to grow a nice onion. I might have to re think that.

    I hope you can get plenty of garden action in the days before moving day. Did you actually plant your fall garden at the new place yet?

    Have a great harvest day.

    Reply to Nebraska Dave's comment

  3. K.B. on July 26, 2012 at 9:41 am

    I started my onions from seed for the first time this year too. Unfortunately, one variety had horrible germination (great seed company though – once they realized there was a problem, everyone who bought the seed got a credit), and one did not transplant well. So, out of the four varieties I planted, only two did well – a red and a small white pickling onion. Oh well – at least I know for next year that it’s not that bad starting them for seed, and that I’ll need a lot more than I planted this year to make it through the year!

    I like yellow onions for storage too, but I have to have some red, especially for Greek salads in the summer and red onion preserves in the winter.

    Reply to K.B.'s comment

  4. Songbirdtiff on July 26, 2012 at 9:56 am

    I would love just to direct seed onions out in the garden, but your seeds sewn indoors are so much bigger! I might try both this year and see what kind of results I get. How was your germination rate?

    Reply to Songbirdtiff's comment

    • Susy on July 27, 2012 at 7:39 am

      Germination is GREAT, especially if you provide some heat. The direct seeded onions take a LONG time to germinate because the soil is warm. I think this coming year I’ll try to sow some really early in the garden too.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. glenda on July 26, 2012 at 11:18 am

    I’ve started growing onions from seed. I never had any success with onions until I tired Australian browns. They did so well and made me so happy. I’m getting a bit long in the tooth now so when I find a stunning variety that’s what I’m very contented to stick with.

    Reply to glenda's comment

    • Susy on July 26, 2012 at 3:47 pm

      I’ll have to try that variety next year. I love trying new and interesting varieties, there are so many more you can get in seed that in set/plant.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. Maybelline on July 26, 2012 at 11:23 am

    All onions are great.
    Try planting your onions seeds directly again making sure to thin. Use your thinned onions as you would green onions. This is the most healthy and economical way to go.

    Reply to Maybelline's comment

  7. Chicago Mike on July 26, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Great experiment! I have tried to direct sow onion seeds and they just don’t do well here either.

    Just what I wanted, more seedlings to plan!

    (some would think that was sarcastic, but I assure you, its not)

    Reply to Chicago Mike's comment

    • Chicago Mike on July 26, 2012 at 11:31 am

      And, to answer the question, sweet is my preference.

      Reply to Chicago Mike's comment

    • Susy on July 28, 2012 at 7:33 am

      I think the soil temp is what gets us in the northeast, it takes them forever to germinate in the spring.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  8. Sonya on July 26, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    I gathered some seed last year from my onion blooms, none of them germinated. This past fall, my FIL gave me 2 bundles of sets and almost all of them produced. Last year, I harvest onions in March and had them until the end of August. I tied them up in pantyhose and put them in the shed. I lost a few to the heat, so this Spring I have them in the house in the laundry room, again in pantyhose. I have only lost a few and I should have enough to last me until October. It is hard to “guesstimate” how much our family uses annually, but I’m getting closer every year! BTW, I’m in Central Fl.

    Reply to Sonya's comment

  9. KimH on July 26, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    They do look great!

    Yes! :) I like all onions. Different ones for different uses.
    I prefer a red onion in a burger or on a chili dog. :) Other than that, I dont have a preference.

    Im curious about your onion seed process. Did you put them in cubes or did you just scatter them in a tray and then pull apart & transplant? I dont remember if you shared this with us or not.

    My grandparents used to keep a net in their garage where they hung their onions. All 4 corners were tied to the rafters so they had a fairly flat airy surface.

    Reply to KimH's comment

  10. alison@thisbloominglife on July 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Loved this post! Having worked with gardeners for years, the thing the best all have in common is this ability to observe, analyse and improve. It’s something I’m still working towards. Brown for storage for me!

    Reply to alison@thisbloominglife's comment

  11. Rick on July 26, 2012 at 8:27 pm

    We wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves with out garden grown onions to cook with. Last year we harvested almost 70 pounds. We gave away about 20 and we are just finishing up the last of the others. I hope you like the Copra onions. We have been growing them for 3 years now and just love them. They are a real long storing onion. We get ours from Dixion Dale so it bugs me that they use fungicides. Looks like I’m going to have to learn to grow onions from seed!!

    Reply to Rick's comment

    • Susy on July 27, 2012 at 7:41 am

      The seeds are inexpensive and available from Johnny’s Seeds. The pack contains so many seed. It’s really not much trouble to start them from seed and they plants are so much healthier looking than the ones you get in a bundle in the mail.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  12. stefaneener on July 26, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    What lovely onions. I like yellow and red better than white. I like to grow my own, but remembering to do so is always a challenge!

    Reply to stefaneener's comment

  13. Dee/reddirtramblings on July 27, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    You’ve convinced me. I’ll do the same. I do have some sets I got locally that I’ll plant this fall. Good info. Thank you!~~Dee

    Reply to Dee/reddirtramblings's comment

  14. Victoria Wildman on July 29, 2012 at 12:43 pm

    They look fantastic. We’ve much rain here that allotment onion crops have been poor.

    Reply to Victoria Wildman's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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