Onion Plant Spotlight: Tips and Tricks to Grow and Cook for the Onion Gardener and Eater

Your garden and kitchen guide to onion

Introductory Facts and Trivia

The onion is a close relative to garlic and has a rich history in many countries throughout the years. The origin of the onion is unknown, as the wild onion is extinct. However, they were seen throughout the centuries all over Asia. The ancient Egyptians saw the onion as a symbol for eternal life because of the ring-shaped inside and spherical shape. In fact, the mummified body of Pharaoh Ramesses IV had onion traces in his eye sockets, along with other pharaohs, as onions were used in burial processes. Onions were present in many places, and were eventually taken to the Americas by European settlers, where they became a core vegetable in the New World.

Grow Your Own

You can grow onions from seeds, sets, or transplants. Seeds for homegrown transplants will give you the best variety of crop. Sets tend to bolt prematurely in some cases, and seeds do not have this issue.

Try to plant the seeds in containers with potting mix during September. It should take about two months for the seeds to be ready to transplant. Wait for two weeks after the seed has germinated, and then fertilize them twice a month until they are planted out. It is recommended to use horse manure (although other manure can work as well). Another important thing to remember is that you cannot let the soil get dried out completely. Usually, winter rains should suffice for the soil, but if rain is scarce, then you will need to water the crop yourself.

When half the tops have bent over, you can stop watering and bend the remaining tops with the back of a rake. Be careful not to break onions neck. Once the tops become yellow, dig them out of the soil, but be sure to keep the tops on as long as possible and dry them. Then, cut the tops at one inch and store bulbs in a cool dry dark area with good ventilation. Unless cool dry conditions are available for you, do not expect quality onions beyond late August if mild onions are grown. Do not use a warm garage, because it will not give the onions the proper conditions. Remember that longer day onions are generally the best ones.

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Cooking Tips

Onions are used best as a supplementary ingredient to a variety of dishes. A great way to start off easy is to use the Kitchn’s recommended Tomato Salad with Red Onions, Dill and Feta recipe. If you have a quality onion, it will add an incredible taste to a salad, and the difference will show. Putting the onion in a bowl of water for a while, and then drying it will keep it hydrated. Letting it marinate with the other ingredients will definitely do something new for the dish. Try it out!

Nutrition and Health Benefits

According to Medical News Today, eating onions can have health benefits such as lowering the risk of cancer, maintaining healthy skin and hair, and improving your overall mood. It can also help to improve heart health and it acts as a natural blood thinner. The vegetable also helps to reduce the risk of obesity.

Onions act as anti-inflammatory agents for the body and bolsters the immune system. On top of this, it aids with the overall digestion of various foods, along with the minerals and nutrients that the body needs to absorb.

They also contain no fat and cholesterol, and they are low in calories. In general, they contain a lot of valuable minerals, nutrients, and antioxidants that can improve the human body’s health.

Learn more about plants and what to grow in your area with the Giving Garden app. Giving Garden helps you grow, share and eat food locally. Available on iOS, Android and the web.  Find your local farmers market, grow your own food and share food to strengthen your local food system. If you have extra produce, we encourage you to post it on our mobile apps and let your friends and neighbors know. Let’s combat food waste together! Have suggestions on features or need assistance, email support@givinggarden.io 

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This blog post was written by Sanjay Reddy, a Biological Science and Professional Writing intern at Giving Garden. Sanjay is very passionate about plant and environmental science and is experienced in scientific research and writing for various fields. Connect with him on LinkedIn to see his current projects.

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