Until last year I’d never had much success growing onions. I’d always planted our onions from sets, in the spring. Onions are one of those spring crops that are supposed to planted “as soon as the soil permits.” Around here that means it’s usually March and sometimes April before it’s possible to get them planted. By the time of harvest the bulbs were usually much smaller than I would have liked.
At a conference we attended last winter someone told me to plant from transplants rather than sets. In my ignorance I hadn’t even known onions could be transplanted. He insisted that transplants did much better than sets so I gave it a try.
He was right. Whereas my spring-planted sets typically produced small to medium sized onions, the transplants produced medium to large onions. Transplants are definitely superior to spring-planted sets.
But as an experiment I also put out some sets when we planted our garlic last fall. I’d never overwintered onions before but figured if it worked for garlic it might work for onions too. I had nothing to lose. If they didn’t come up I could still plant them in the spring.
To my delight the fall-planted sets consistently produced large beautiful onions, better than any we’d ever grown before. Even though the spring transplants had done well, the fall-planted sets were even better. I resolved to plant all my onions that way from now on.
So yesterday I put out 17 pounds of onion sets. They’re planted the same way garlic is planted, but without the necessity of breaking open bulbs to get cloves (as must be done with garlic) the planting goes much faster. Once you have a bed for planting, just poke the sets into the ground about four inches apart, then cover them all with straw and aim to harvest them around July 4.
I’m looking forward to a great harvest next year.