Monday, October 3, 2011

How Much Does a Garden Grow: Onions

(Note:  I know the photo quality of the above isn't great, but I also thought it was kind of a pretty shot as-is, with all of the smeariness.)

So, as we start to wind down on the garden tallies, it is time to talk onions.

I know nothing about onions.  I know that root crops have a difficult time in the clay soil of Ohio, even the patch of the garden that has been worked and improved and mulched and generally loved since the day we broke sod on this garden.  But I love onions and love a good storage crop.  So I ordered onion sets this spring and put them in the ground.

At first, they seemed to be going gang-busters.  I had beautiful onion greens above ground, and I even carefully snipped just a few to use in my spring cooking.  With 300 sets in the ground, I anticipated a failure rate of one-third and looked forward to 200 onions to eat from our cellar all winter.

Well, not quite.  The heat came all at once, and the little buggers bolted on me!  All at once, I had all of these onion flowers in the garden, and everything I read told me not to let them do that, else they would put all their energy into seed formation rather than bulb formation.  I was out every day snipping off flowers and throwing them to the ground in the hopes of getting some volunteers next year (we'll see). 

When the onions finally stopped blooming and their tops yellowed and bent over, it was theoretically time to harvest.  What I got was 6 pounds of the tiniest onions you can imagine; I have to use three of them to equal one medium onion.  Even worse, a number of the sets didn't sprout at all.

Well, I was (and am) pretty ticked off.  Who takes a loss on onions, after all?  I shoved the unsprouted sets back in the ground, and they are all growing even as we speak.  There may be a 2011 garden wrap up sometime early in 2012 if I mulch these and they actually deign to give me full size onions.

All in all, I don't know if I'll grow onions again.  I usually give any crop three tries before I give up, but organic onions are readily available in the grocery for $1 a pound.  Using that as a base price, it cost me $12.95 in sets to get $6.00 worth of onions. 


2011 Tally to Date: 83.18 lbs of crops; $86.76 saved

(Next up:  tomatoes, peppers, leeks, and herbs)
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  1. Oh my. May I ask what type of onions you planted? Because even with the crazy weather, we ended up with tons. Before using them for canning, we probably had an apple crate full.

    Many of mine aren't huge...average size is probably the size of a small apple...but they're still plenty large enough for cooking and will most likely last us until April.

  2. We had a Burpee sampler that was white, yellow, and red. The yellow did the best, but none of them were anything to write home about.

    Glad you had such a good harvest! Gives me a bit of hope.