[Market-farming] Onions and sets

Owsley lucy boulderbelt at embarqmail.com
Sat Oct 24 13:48:56 EDT 2009

We have grown them by thickly direct seeding onions in April and not  
thinning them out. It is also good not to weed them too much because  
you want very small onions. out of 2 50'x 4' beds we got about 5  
pounds of sets and another 2 bushels of pearl onions.

We cure the set onions like the bigger ones and than keep them in a  
cold barn over winter. if they start to sprout in winter than they  
are put in a fridge and that usually stops them from going too far.

In April we plant them.

For big onions we start the seeds in 6" nursery pots in early  
January, about 75 to 100 seeds per pot, if you go thicker they will  
damp off in droves. they grow inside until the end of Feb and than  
are put out in a cold frame to harden off. We transplant Mid march  
through the beginning of May. We use the pots instead of soil blocks  
of cells so the seedlings have room to grow good roots and get bigger  
than blades of grass.

I have tried direct seeding and thinning out over about 5 weeks and  
using the thinnings as scallions/green onions. Use sweet onions for  
this. Yellow storage (hot) onions will be way too hot for most people  
and you will get few return customers. i did have the problem of not  
having a good enough market for the thinnings so the bed did not get  
thinned out as it should have for big onions so got a lot of smallish  
onions in the end. And this is why i stick with starting from seed  
early in the year and transplanting in early spring.

I have also had good luck with starting seed in the ground in a cold  
frame or hoop house (unheated). We started them in November and got  
them covered and they did really well all winter. In April we dug  
them up and moved them to where we wanted them that year.

Lucy Goodman
Boulder Belt Eco-Farm
Eaton, OH

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