10 Onion Growing Problems and How to Prevent Them

Do you love using onions in your recipes? You can grow them in your garden and you can have enough supply to last you for months. Onions can be stored fresh in bulbs or they can be frozen or dehydrated to make them last longer. However, onions can be a little tricky to grow, as they can be fussy when it comes to temperatures which can affect their bulb size. If you’re interested to grow onions in your garden, here are the 10 onion growing problems and how to prevent them.

Choosing the Wrong Onion Type

One of the most common mistakes that people make in growing onions is choosing the wrong onion type to plant that is suitable for their location. This problem usually arises when onion sources are being ordered online. There are three types of onions you can buy that are ready for planting: short-day, long-day, and intermediate-day. Choosing the correct type to buy will be determined by your location and for what purpose you are growing it, for example for bulbs or for tops. if you want to grow bulbs, you must choose a type that can suit your latitude. You can find charts online to see the recommended types for your location.

Planting Onion Sets or Transplants without Knowing the Source

Onion sets are those that resembled small onion bulbs while onion transplants are those that look like green onions having long stems with a tuft of roots on the bottom. Most people may have the mistake of expecting to harvest onion bulbs from sets and spring onions for transplants even without knowing the type and the location source of these onions. There have been instances where gardeners did not get the kind of harvest they want because they failed to consider the day type and location of the onion sets or transplants that they used.

Climate still has a big effect on the outcome of the onions. It is best to go to your local university extension or join a local onion growing group to get more insights as to what type of sets or transplants to use in your area. Onions used in other locations may not have the same outcome when it is planted in your area with a different climate. 

Choosing the Wrong Size of Sets and Transplants

A common mistake in planting onions that most fall into is choosing the wrong size of set or transplants to plant. Oftentimes, new gardeners will choose the largest of the bunch. There is a specific size that you should choose if you want to achieve a specific result in your onion harvest. For transplants, choose those that have the same width as a pencil. As for sets, choose the big bulbs for green onions and the medium-sized ones for large bulbs.

Using Seeds to Grow Onions

Locations having short day climates can have a hard time growing seeds before the frost season comes. Onions need a long amount of time to develop their greens, which is necessary for onions to acquire nutrients for nourishment. Oftentimes, people living in short day climates often sow their seeds too late. To address this problem, they need to plant the seeds 10 to 12 weeks before the frost kicks in.

Planting Transplants with the Wrong Depth and Distance

Some people also plant transplants too deep or too close to each other. As a general rule, they should be planted 1-inch depth in the soil or deep enough for them to stand alone. As for the distance, 6-8 inches apart is enough space for the transplants to produce large bulbs. This distance gives them ample soil space to get their nutrients.

Too little Feeding

Growing onions are heavy feeders. They need huge amounts of nitrogen in the soil regularly to sustain good leaf growth. This can be done by synthetic nitrogen fertilizers. However, if you wish to avoid synthetic ones, there are also organic sources like Milorganite, Chicken manure, and Corn gluten meal.

Not using the Right Amount of Water

Onions need plenty of water to grow. If the weather do not provide enough, always water them regularly to prevent the occurrence of bolting. On the other hand, do not let the onions drown in water as well. The soil should not hold water for too long that’s why it is needed to provide drainage. If the soil has a large percentage of clay, you can place your onions on raised soil beds.

Lacking Sun Exposure

Even if onions are not fruit-bearing plants, they still love sunshine just as much as other plants do. When you plan to place them beside other kinds of plants, make sure that other plants will not block the sun during the growing phase of the onions.

Surrounded by Weeds

Since onions are heavy feeders, they need all the nutrients they can get form the soil during their growing phase. Weeds are competitors for these nutrients. You must remove any unwanted plants that grow near the onions especially during the growth phase. 

Appearance of Bolts

Bolts are teardrop-shaped white structures found in the center stalks of onions which will develop later into flowers. They can be pretty to look at but this can mean that the bulbs will no longer grow larger and cannot be used for cooking. These are often caused because of temperature fluctuations. To prevent this from happening, you can start mulching around the onions after the spring rain and before the start of warm months. When it gets a little hotter during the day, you can also water the soil frequently to cool down the soil. 

Covering Exposed Bulbs

There may be times when the bulbs can be seen above ground before harvest. While it is tempting to cover them with soil, like what is done for potatoes, it is not advised to do so because it can cause rotting of the stems. 

Breaking off the Stems

Other onion planters make it a habit to break the stems of onions and place them lying on top of the soil, in an attempt to make the bulb grow larger. This is not advisable because the onion gets its nutrition from the stem. They still need it to grow into their full size. When maturity is achieved, these stems will just fall on their own.

You can use the useful tips above when you want to start your onion garden. Onions can show great variables during their growth and one of the factors to look into is your location. It is also best that you consult the advice of your local university garden extension to have insights as to the type of onions to use and other practices you can employ while trying to grow these plants.

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