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Growing Onion

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec
  P P T                

(Best months for growing Onion in South Africa - Summer rainfall regions)

S = Plant undercover in seed trays T = Plant out (transplant) seedlings

  • Easy to grow. Grow in seed trays, and plant out in 4-6 weeks. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. Best planted at soil temperatures between 8°C and 30°C. (Show °F/in)
  • Space plants: 5 - 10 cm apart
  • Harvest in 25-34 weeks. Allow onions to dry before storing.
  • Compatible with (can grow beside): Lemon Balm, Borage, Carrots, Beets, Silverbeet, Lettuce, Amaranth
  • Avoid growing close to: Peas, Beans
  • Red onion
  • Young brown onion

Onions come in a range of colours and shapes and sizes. Brown :- strong flavour and pungent. Usually good keepers for storage. White :- milder but still flavoursome. Keep fairly well. Red :- Mild, suitable to use raw in salads and sandwiches. The seedlings should be allowed to gain a bit of strength before planting out - usually 4 to 6 weeks will be enough. When they are big enough to handle, you can plant out. They start off looking like blades of grass.

They don't have to be in a greenhouse (though that would be ideal), any sheltered spot will do. The idea is to guard against rapid changes of temperature, especially at night.

Onions can be bought as young plants (sets or seedlings) from garden shops/nurseries to plant straight into garden beds. Choose your variety according to your climate and the time of year as some onions will grow better in the cooler months .

Onion bulbs should sit on the surface of the soil. Do not cover. They will take six to eight months to mature. Onions are ready when the tops start to dry and fall over. Pull them and leave to dry for a few days. Store in a cool, dry airy place. Use a net bag or make a string by weaving the tops together.

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Onion

Brown onions roasted whole with other vegetables are delicious.
Red onions add colour to salads or stir-fry.

Your comments and tips

10 Aug 19, Sam (South Africa - Summer rainfall climate)
I just planted onions that got spoiled and started to grow but now each bulb has grown into a set of seedlings. Do I pull them out and plant them separately or leave them grow as they are? Kind Regards Sam
13 Nov 19, anon (South Africa - Summer rainfall climate)
Pull apart.
01 Aug 19, Mwenya Selebi (South Africa - Humid sub-tropical climate)
Where in South Africa Gauteng can l buy red onion seedlings. l have a two hector onion field. l did direct planting of the onion and only one hector has come out well. l need seedlings that are ready for transplanting to supplement, csn you help me please. Where can l.buy seedlings in Gauteng.
18 Apr 19, SHIREEN WALTERS (South Africa - Summer rainfall climate)
Can I plant spring onions and coriander now (middle April) ?
26 Nov 18, raymond (South Africa - Humid sub-tropical climate)
May I know, When to plant onions in an area of Bioresource Group no 1 (Moist Coast forest?) .My mom wants to plant it on a correct time. I ll be a great pleasure to know. Thanks. Raymond Novela
09 Sep 18, Sally (South Africa - Summer rainfall climate)
Which varieties of onion can I plant in Johannesburg now. From seed
23 Mar 18, Fanie Zulu (South Africa - Summer rainfall climate)
Good day, can I plant the Australian brown onion throughout the year in South Africa? I want to maintain the monthly supply for my customers.
23 Apr 18, hennie (South Africa - Summer rainfall climate)
typically root vegetables such as onions,carrots and beetroot can be grown year round , just ensure they have enough deep soil , and keep an eye on the moisture levels, after the bulbs started forming , and give them ample space between each plant , thinning is an essential function.
10 Mar 18, Nana (South Africa - Summer rainfall climate)
I live in Lady Frere, Eastern Cape S.A. I would like to know if I can plant onions now in March. Also how long will they take to mature.
24 Oct 17, Danie (South Africa - Summer rainfall climate)
Why shouldn't onions be planted close to beans and peas?
Showing 1 - 10 of 44 comments

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This planting guide is a general reference intended for home gardeners. We recommend that you take into account your local conditions in making planting decisions. Gardenate is not a farming or commercial advisory service. For specific advice, please contact your local plant suppliers, gardening groups, or agricultural department. The information on this site is presented in good faith, but we take no responsibility as to the accuracy of the information provided.
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