Harvesting onions

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by sassy_mare, Jul 13, 2005.

  1. sassy_mare

    sassy_mare Well-Known Member

    Oct 19, 2004
    How do I harvest onions? if I cut some of the tops off, can I leave the bottom to continue to grow? Is it bad if seeds form on top? Do I need to do anything to the tops if I only want the bottom to grow?

    Thanks all!
  2. Barb

    Barb Well-Known Member

    May 14, 2002
    West River SD
    My way . Someone probably has a better way. When most of the tops are down and wilted I pull the onions out and let them "sweeten" in the sun for a couple of days. Then I put them in the barn on some boards placed across a couple of sawhorses with their tops (if any left) hanging down to dry. After a few weeks I go over them brushing off any remaining dirt and cut off any tops left. Then I place then in mesh sacks and hang from the rafters in the basement. Any onions that doesn't look like it will keep is used up right away or chopped and frozen.

    If you live in a sunny area you might not have to place them in the barn like I did. I lived in Michigan when I was doing onions in quantiy and it rained frequently in the fall. Here it doesn't rain as much. In fact we have been in a drought for four going on five years now. I haven't had enough water for onions in quanity although this year I have enough for one sack if I can keep them going.

  3. labrat

    labrat Well-Known Member

    Jun 3, 2005
    central Bluegrass State
  4. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jul 20, 2004
    My way (learned from my mom): Pull the onions once the tops have died. Let dry, wipe off the dirt and place on in the toe of a pair of old panty hose. Tie a knot above the onion, place another one in the panty hose, tie a knot, etc. until each leg of the panty hose is full on onions. Hang from a nail or over the rafters in a dry place.

    When you need an onion, start at the toe of the panty hose and work your way up. It's simple to cut a slit in the hose and pop out an onion. The knots keep the onions from touching which helps cut down on the possibility of rot.
  5. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

    May 9, 2002
    South Central Wisconsin
    Yes, it's bad if flowers or seed stalks form. Those should be broken off as soon as they appear. If not, all further bulb growth will stop and the existing bulb will actually shrink or vanish. Breaking them off as they appear allows the bulb to continue growing. Even if broken off, such bulbs will have a shorter storage life. The central growth ring will be of a different chemical composition and will rot faster than the others. So, use those bulbs first. You will recognize them since they will have a wide "neck".

    Harvesting usually comes a week to 10 days after the plants have all "flopped" on their own. Keep watching the first inch of the necks where the leaves join the bulbs. That is where the leaves first begin drying. If there's an inch or so of only dry stem, that's the end to the growing season even though the leaves may remain green for another week or so. Then lift the bulbs and air-dry in a shady area for a week to 10 days before storing.