This year I planted way too many onions. I accidently forgot to cancel an order from one seed company and I ended up with twice as many as I intended. That ended up being a lot of weeding and two days of cutting up onions for storage.
There are a few ways you can plant onions in your garden. You can start seeds, plant sets or get plants. I prefer to plant onion plants. I can get a better variety of onions this way as opposed to planting onion sets. I usually order from one of the many seed catalogs. The plants come bundled together with dried roots. Just stick them in the ground in loose, well drained soil and water well.
There are three types of onions. Long day, short day and intermediate (day neutral). Onions set bulbs in response to daylight. Long day onions need 14-15 hours of sunlight to set a bulb. Long day onions are appropriate for northern climates, zone 6 and below. Day neutral onions can be planted in almost any zone as they will set bulbs regardless of daylight hours. Short day onions require 10 hours of sunlight a day and are best suited to be planted in the south, zone 7 and up.
I live in northern Ohio in zone 6a. I plant long day onions and some day neutral onions. My favorite onions are Patterson and Red Wing. They are both great storage onions. This year I planted some sweet, day neutral onions. They tend to not store well and need to either be used up quickly or frozen for later use.
You can harvest onions for use as soon as the bulbs are usable size or you can pull them early for green onions. For storage onions you should wait until the tops start to fall over and the tips of the plant start turning brown. You then will pull the onions, shake off the excess dirt then place them out of direct sunlight with lots of airflow. After 2 weeks the tops should be dried out and you can either braid the tops together and hang the onions in a cool dark place or trim the tops and place them in a bag or box. I usually trim the roots so they are about ¼ inch long before storage.
If you don’t have a cool place to store onions you can always cut them and freeze them. I dice and freeze in quart sized bags. Then when I am cooking with onions I just dump some out of the bag and right into the pan.
This year I froze about 10 quarts of onions and have about 5 pounds of storage onions in my pantry. That doesn’t include the many onions I have already used this year in cooking. Onions are an easy plant to start with in the garden. It is easiest to start with onion sets. Plant them in a well drained area of your garden and you will be harvesting onions in about 100 days!