This year, after doing a bunch of reading, I decided to grow onions from seed. They say that onions grown from seed perform better; grow a better bulbs, suffer less disease, and taste better. Plus, it is cheaper to buy seed than to buy sets. So, I decided to give it a go and do an onion experiment this year. I use onions in a lot of my cooking so I planted the whole seed packet of heirloom Giant Zittau Onions back in mid February. The Giant Zittau is a day length neutral yellow onion and is supposed to be a good keeper. (Day length length means that onion start bulbing based on the amount of daylight they get. Long-day onions needs 14 hours of day length and short-day onions need 10-12 hours.) I broadcast seeded (scattered them over seed starting mix) my onions in the bottom of a milk jug and in an old salad container and watched as they came up. The seed germinated well and soon I had oodles of green onion tops poking out of the soil.
About a week ago I noticed that the onions were getting pretty squished in their containers and were getting to be about 5-6 inches tall. After a bit of research I found that I would probably need to transplant my baby onion seedlings into individual cells to promote better root development. I filled a flat full of six-pack cells with potting soil and began the transfer.
I made sure that both the potting soil and the seed starting mix that my onions were in were moist. (If they weren’t moist if would be harder on the seedlings.) I gently dumped out the seedlings into my hand and then plopped them root-side down on the ground next to my flat.
Using an old pen, I poked a hole in each cell of the six-packs so that it would be ready to receive the onion.
I then gently removed each seedling from the pile and using the pen again, gently poked the long stringy roots into the dirt until they were all tucked in.
I put the onion in low enough to cover the white part at the bottom and patted the dirt securely around it.
About 1 1/2 hours later, I had successfully transplanted about 100 onion seedlings. I trimmed the tops to about 3 inches tall to help the onions put more energy into root development.
Yikes, it was way more tedious than I had expected. Perhaps this is the reason many people buy sets. I am interested to see how they do once put in the garden and if growing onions from seed is really worth it. Experimentation if part of gardening; always something new to try. Hopefully this experiment will turn out well. So far the seedlings look very healthy and although it was time consuming to transplant them, I hope they will continue to thrive.
Have you ever started onions from seed before? Any experiments going on in your garden this year?