ABOUT THE PLANT
Description: A short-day onion that produces a round, medium-sized (2-3"), white-skinned bulb with firm, crisp, mild-tasting flesh. When grown in long-day regions (northern climates), they will produce mini or pearl onions.
Origin: Onions are native to Asia.
Usage: Use fresh on salads, sandwiches, or burgers. They can also be cooked in soups and stews, casseroles or just about any entrée.
Interesting facts: Onions are high in vitamin C and were taken to sea by sailors who needed vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables to prevent a vitamin C deficiency called scurvy.
HOW TO GROW
General requirements: Short-day onion varieties will form bulbs once daylight hours increase to 10 to 12 hours per day. They are ideal for southern regions of the USA where daylight hours are shorter compared to the longer days up north.
Soil should be well-tilled, and nitrogen-rich, with a pH of 6.0-7.0. Plants need to be in full sun, and the soil kept consistently moist, but not soggy. Consistent soil moisture is the key to a successful onion crop. Onions have shallow roots, and therefore they aren't efficient at absorbing water. When the soil feels dry down to 1 inch deep, it's time to water.
In the garden: Plant onion seeds 6-8 weeks prior to the final spring frost once the ground soil reaches 50°F, is no longer frozen, and can be worked. For a fall planting sow seeds about 4-6 weeks before the first autumn frost. Sow onion seeds approximately 1/4 to 1/2″ deep and 2- 4 inches apart. Or sprinkle generously in a shallow 1” trench, cover with soil and maintain moisture to promote germination. Once they sprout and have grown an inch or 2, snip out the weakest plants and keep the strongest seedlings, one onion seedling per 4 –6 inches. Fertilize with fish emulsion or compost tea. Do not feed nitrogen-heavy fertilizer past mid-July.
In containers: To raise bulb onions, you'll need a well-draining container wide enough so that each onion has about 3 inches of space around it. Fill it with good potting soil and place it in an area that will get 10-12 hours of sunlight each day. Plant seeds ½"deep, 1” apart. Once the seedlings are an inch or so tall, keep the best-looking plants by snipping out the rest and ensuring that each remaining seedling is 4-6" away from its neighbors. Fertilize with fish emulsion or compost tea. Do not feed nitrogen-heavy fertilizer past mid-July.
Transplanting: Plant seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost date for your area. Fill a tray or container with good drainage at least 4 “ deep with a dampened seed starting mix. Scatter the seeds then mist them lightly with water. Cover them with ½" seed starting mix. Gently firm the soil with your hand. Keep the seeds warm (70-75°F) and damp until they sprout. You can cover the seeds with plastic to help maintain humidity. Keep them someplace warm, about 70 to 75°F. Once the seedlings sprout, take off the plastic cover and move the seeds to a cooler spot that will get 12 or more hours of bright light each day. You may need to use grow lights. Keep the soil moist and fertilize the seedlings with diluted fish emulsion or compost tea. Once they reach 5 or 6 inches (or taller), trim the tops of their greens down to 3 or 4 inches. Harden off seedlings before planting outside. Tease the seedlings apart and plant them in the garden at the same depth as they were in the tray, 4-6" apart.
Bulbs: Once the plants’ greens have dried out, yellowed, and fallen over, the onions are ready to harvest. Dig them up with a garden fork, or just pull individuals by hand. Brush away loose soil from the bulb and allow the bulbs to further dry. Store in a cool, dark, well-ventilated, and dry place.
Seeds: Onions are biennials which means they flower in their 2nd year. To save seed from onion, select several perfect onions and store them in a cool, dry area until the following spring. Try to replant them at the same depth as when you dug them up. They will begin to send up new growth and eventually a flower stalk. By late summer the flowers, then seed heads will begin to form. As the seed heads dry the seeds will begin to fall out. Remove the seed heads and place them into a paper bag. Shake the bag to release the remaining seeds, then separate the seeds from other debris. After assuring that the seeds are dry, store them in a cool, dry place.
Common name: Eclipse, white onion
Latin name: Allium cepa
Life cycle: biennial, but grown as an annual
USDA Zones: grows in all zones, but best in 8-11
Seeds per ounce: ~9000