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Planting Onions

May 11th, 2015

When you first begin gardening you follow the recommendations on the seed packets and in the gardening books. Then you read books that give different tips and you see different methods while visiting gardens.
onions at Johnnys seeds
I remember when I first started growing onions, I carefully planted them with the proper distance in between bulbs. Then I saw where someone planted them closer, just like Johnny’s Seeds does at their research farm in the photo above. I started planting them closer, and closer, and closer with no loss in size of quality of onions.
onions (1)
Then I read in Charles Dowding’s Vegetable Course to plant them in clumps of three. GENIUS – I though to myself and I started using this method. They grow just as well as when planted individually and it’s so much faster to plant them this way then in individually. They are also much easier to weed since there aren’t individual plants to weed around.
onions (2)
Yesterday I planted 60 seedlings each of 9 different varieties of onions. Onions are one of those things I love to grow, I could definitely get them cheaper at the farmers market, but I love the process of starting them from seed in February, planting them in the garden in May, harvesting them in July, and eating them all winter. There’s something about growing onions that I love.

Have you discovered any interesting planting methods that went against the normal recommendations?

5 Comments to “Planting Onions”
  1. Myra S. on May 11, 2015 at 8:53 am

    We always plant onions closer than “they” say. One question: When planting in groups of 3, do they have a tendency to grow together like Siamese twins? (Or triplets, in this case.) We’re planting ours this week. Trying them as a border to the garden as we’ve heard they’re a natural barrier to rabbits so we’re giving it a go. Love the blog, Suzi!

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  2. Erika on May 11, 2015 at 8:53 am

    I first read about planting in groups of three in an Eliot Coleman book. Definitely makes hoe/weeding easier. Last year I went back to regular spacing and while the individual onions, on average, were larger the overall pounds harvested didn’t change and the weeds were a bigger problem. This year it’s back to planting in groups of three. I too love growing onions from seeds! I never had much luck with onion sets. Now I can grow all the onions I use all winter.
    I used to transplant my tomato plants on our USDA last frost date of May 15, but my mother-in-law always planted hers on Memorial Day weekend because her grandmother and mother always did. She always had tomatoes before me so now I plant them on Memorial Day weekend and they do great.

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  3. Lorna on May 11, 2015 at 9:00 am

    I envy your onions! I’ve never had much luck starting onions (I get great volunteers in year 2), but will be helping a friend plant today and she grows the most amazing onions–I’m hoping to learn a thing or two in exchange for a bit of labor :)
    Have you ever planted beets in bunches, like you do your onions? It works great!
    Also against convention–I start corn, carrots, and other root crops like turnips and parsnips and transplant out when I seed the same (I’m usually a bit late). When you get the feel for handling them properly, there’s no root damage and they grow beautifully.

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  4. Nebraska Dave on May 12, 2015 at 7:31 am

    Susy, just about every thing I plant flies in the face of conventional gardening. I haven’t tried planting in bunches but it may be on future list for plantings onions. This year I’ll be trying a method of sweet corn growing which is still in rows but will be planted in hills with five plants in each hill. I have every thing ready to plant and will start planting everything this week when night time temperatures warm up just a bit more. The night temps are still playing with upper 30s and lower 40s. The warm weather plants don’t really like those cold night temperature so I’ll keep them inside a bit longer.

    Have a great non conventional gardening day.

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  5. Nita on May 12, 2015 at 9:28 am

    Eliot Coleman’s four onions to a station method works best for me, much easier to hoe between the clumps, keep the row weeded and then harvesting is a snap, you can just grab the clump of four in one motion.

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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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