Onions are probably the most commonly used vegetables in everyday cooking. They form the base ingredient for most dishes, adding a sweet flavor and fragrance to them. Besides, it also enhances the looks of your regular meals, making them much more appetizing for the family. Brown them, sauté them, or eat them raw – they’re delicious no matter how you serve them. If you’ve planted them this spring, you’ll most probably be waiting for the most suitable time to start harvesting. But what is that suitable time? When are onions ready to pick, and how should you harvest them. Keep reading, and you’ll find all your answers.
Ensuring A Successful Harvest
Before learning when and how to pick your onion crop, it’s essential to do all the right things to secure a successful onion harvest for you. They’re easy-going crops, but there are a couple of things you need to take care of. Plant them in organically fertile soil and ensure consistent moisture.
it’s essential to do all the right things to secure a successful onion harvest for you
Other than that, they also enjoy cooler temperatures since it helps with bulb development. Include straw mulch between the onion rows. Mulching won’t just help retain soil moisture, but it will also keep it from getting too hot during the summers.
When Are Onions Ready To Pick?
One of the greatest things about growing onions is the versatility you enjoy with them. Wait for it to mature if you want to harvest the bulbs. Alternatively, you can harvest a bit earlier to enjoy fresh green onions. So there are two kinds of harvests that we are looking at here. Let’s see when each one is ready.
When To Pick Green Onions?
If you want to harvest green onions, you’ll just have to wait for about a month until they’re ready to be picked. Harvest them when they’re about 6 inches above the soil. You may be inclined to wait just a little longer for the shoots to grow taller, but this isn’t advisable. Waiting longer will make the stalk tougher and less flavorful. Remember to pull out all the bulbs that have developed flower stalks and use them immediately since they aren’t suitable for storage.
When To Pick Onion Bulbs?
Onion bulbs will take a lot longer to develop completely. You’ll generally have to wait for about 100 days after planting to harvest the bulbs. Monitor the visible part of the bulbs to know when they reach the right size. Wait for the green tops to turn brown and fall over. This is the indication that the bulbs have grown to maturity. Wait another two weeks after the tops fall over for the onion bulbs to become fully mature.
Check For The Signs Of Ripeness
Once the onions reach the three-month mark and the green tops turn brown and fall over, don’t pick the entire crop just yet. Pull out a single onion and examine it to decide whether the rest of the crop qualifies for a harvest. Here’s what you need to be looking for in the onion you’ll pull out for inspection:
- Different varieties of onions grow to different sizes. In general, you need to be looking at a diameter of 3 to 5 inches for a mature onion bulb. If the size isn’t large enough yet, leave the rest of the onions to grow for another week or two.
- Press a few inches above the bulb to find soft spots. The softness is a sign that they have grown completely and are ready to be picked.
How To Pick Onions
Once the tops have withered and fallen over, stop watering the crop and give it a week or two for the soil to dry completely. Moisture isn’t good for maturing onions as it can cause rotting. If there’s any rain prediction during this period, go ahead and harvest all the onions before they’re ruined.
Choose a day when it’s not too hot, and harvest early in the morning. Pull the onions out gently with the stems intact. Cutting of the stem can increase the chances of rotting, so it’s best to keep it in place. If you’re using tools, carefully dig around the onions and make sure you don’t rip the skin. Shake off the excess dirt from the bulbs.
Lay your harvest on the ground in a dry, sunny spot, leaving them to dry completely for a day or two.
Your onions aren’t ready to be stored just yet. Curing the onions means giving them the right conditions and the time for their outer skin to dry completely. Lay them out in a well-ventilated, shady spot such as a greenhouse, porch, or root cellar.
Wait for two weeks until the leaves turn brown and brittle, and the skin is completely dry. Clip the roots and cut off the stems. Once the curing process is complete, your onions are ready to be stored. Store them in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight.
So there it is! Look for all the signs and understand precisely when to pick your onions so that you can store them easily. Once you harvest them right and follow all the recommended guidelines for curing and storage, you’ll enjoy your homegrown onions all through the winters.
If you’ve got a couple of tiny onions among your harvest, replant them next spring together with the rest of the onion crops. They’ll mature much earlier than the rest of the crop so you can enjoy some early season onions.
Once you start growing your own onions, you’ll know that the flavor of the ones you get at the grocery store is nowhere close to what you can get out of your own garden!