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Beginner Gardening Series – How to Plant Onions

We would argue that one of the most versatile vegetables you could grow in your garden would be onions! Learn how to grow onions to enjoy all season long with this simple step-by-step tutorial.

This may be a bit controversial, but we think the most important vegetable to have in the kitchen is the humble onion. There are few savory dishes cooked in our homes without onion in them. From our non-creamy potato salad, grilled chicken shish kabobs, simple egg salad and more, onions just add that rich flavor that round out the dish.

(And yes – we need a lot of minty gum in our homes! 🙂 )

This onion growing tutorial is a part of our Beginner Gardening Series. If you’d like to jump to a previous week, here is what we’ve covered (and will be covering):

Planning Your Backyard Garden
Supplies to Get for Making a Small Backyard Garden
Preparing the Backyard Garden for Planting
Planting Vegetable (Pepper) Seeds Indoors
Weeks 1-3: How to Plant Lettuce Seeds Outdoors
Weeks 1-3: How to Plant Onions / How to Plant Garlic (we are here)
Weeks 2-4: Planting Beets and Herb Seeds Outdoors (coming soon)
Garden Maintenance (coming soon)
Weeks 6-8: Planting Seedlings to the Garden (coming soon)
Troubleshooting (coming soon)
First Harvest! (coming soon)

This is the garden layout we are working towards. You can see that the onions and lettuce are planted in rows along one side of the garden.

And be sure to join our Facebook group where we’re we’ll be answering each others’ questions, sharing our gardens as they grow and troubleshooting along the way.

When to Plant Onions?

Unlike lettuce which can be planted from seed outdoors, it is best to plant the onion bulbs directly into the ground. Growing onion from seed will take time so you would need to start those indoors earlier on. 

How to Plant Onion Bulbs Outdoors 

mixed variety of onion bulbs to be planted outdoors in the garden

Using a hoe, turn the soil in the area you plan to place your onion bulbs. We’re placing ours in a row next to the lettuce seeds we just planted. Dig out a shallow ditch in the soil the full length of the garden about 2″ deep. 

Sprinkle the small ditch with manure or compost and then blend together gently using a rake. 

Starting at one end of the row, place an onion bulb into the center of the groove. Ensure the root side of the bulb is facing down into the soil. Push the bulb into the dirt gently to hold it in place. 

Continue adding one bulb at a time into the garden spacing them 1 ½” to 2” apart.  We plan to harvest some of the onions earlier on so we will be thinning out the plants making more room for the others to grow larger. If you plan to wait until all the onions are mature, you should increase the spacing between the onions to 4-5”. 

Insert one onion bulb into the soil, spacing the 1-2" apart for an earlier harvest or 4-5" apart for later harvesting.

Once all bulbs are in place, gently rake the soil just covering them by 1-2” of soil.

Gently rake soil over the onion bulbs.

Watering Onion

If the soil is already moist, leave the bulbs and soil for a few days without watering. In a couple of days, lightly water them with a gentle misting is possible. 

Got a Critter Problem?

If critters are a problem in your area, consider putting chicken wire two feet high around the garden as we’ve done here. Staple the wire to wooden posts in all four corners to secure in place.

Secure chicken wire around your garden to prevent critters from entering.

In the coming weeks, we’ll discuss planting beets and herb seeds outdoors. We’d love to see how your garden is coming along! Share a picture of your prepared garden in the Happy Homecooks and Gardeners Facebook Group for feedback and more ideas.

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