Onions: A Hardy and Healthy Vegetable for Your Garden

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Lawn & Garden
Onions are a great addition to any vegetable garden as they are hardy, healthy and grow well in various climates. With so many varieties to choose from, in this article, we’ll discuss growing onions, onion types, selecting and serving onions, and the health benefits of onions.

Onion Image Gallery

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Onions are biennial vegetables, but they are more commonly grown as annuals.
See more pictures of onions.

Onions, which are hardy biennial vegetables, are generally grown as annuals. They have hollow leaves, and the base of the stem enlarges to form a bulb that can vary in color from white to yellow or red. The flower stalk is also hollow, taller than the leaves, and topped with a cluster of white or lavender flowers.

Commonly known as Onion and scientifically known as Allium cepa, onions are very hardy and can survive the first frost. If you are planning to add some onions to your vegetable garden, head to the next page to find out some onion-growing tips.

If you want to learn more about onions, check out these links:

  • Why do onions make you cry? Grab a tissue and find out just what it is about onions that brings on the waterworks.
  • Vegetable Gardens: Grow a full harvest of great vegetables this year.
  • Gardening: We answer your questions about all things that come from the garden.

Growing Onions

Onions are a versatile vegetable that can be grown in most gardens. The varieties of onions available are suitable for most climates. Most onions are sensitive to the length of the day. Bulb-type onions are classified as either long-day or short-day onions. Long-day onions will produce bulbs when grown in the summer months in the North, while short-day onions produce bulbs in the mild winter climate of the South. American onions and Spanish onions need long days to produce their bulbs while Bermuda onions prefer short days.

©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Long-day bulb onions need long
summer days to produce their

Onions require specific temperature conditions to grow. In general, cool weather is necessary for their tops while warm weather is necessary for their bulbs. They can tolerate frost and should be planted four weeks before the last frost date. The time of year to plant onions in the South depends on the variety and can be in the fall or winter.

Onions are available in three forms: sets, transplants, and seeds. Sets are small, dormant bulbs and are easiest to plant, but offer the smallest number of varieties. Transplants are more reliable in producing bulbs and have more variety options. Seeds are the least expensive and have the greatest variety, but take the longest to mature and are more susceptible to disease and environmental issues.

To grow onions, a well-prepared bed with fertile soil, rich in organic matter, is necessary. Bulbing onions require full sun while green onions can grow in partial shade. Transplants or sets should be planted 1-2 inches deep and 2-3 inches apart. Seeds should be planted 1/4 inch deep and thinned to 1-2 inches apart. Onions can be grown between other vegetables if space is limited.

The soil should not be allowed to dry out until the plants have matured, marked by yellowing and drooping leaves. At this point, let the soil dry out as much as possible.

All onion varieties can be eaten as green onions, although some are grown specifically for their bulbs. Leaves can be harvested as needed, while green onions should be harvested when the bulb is not much larger than the leaves. Dry onion bulbs should be harvested after the leaves have dried and lifted completely out of the soil. Thoroughly dry the bulbs before storing.

There are many types of onions, including bulbing and green onion varieties. Long-day onions produce bulbs in the summer in northern climates, while short-day onions prefer the cooler winter months in the South.

For more information about onions, follow the links provided.

Bulbing Onion Varieties:

  • Southport Red Globe, which takes 110 days to harvest, is a long-day onion with sweet, purple-red flesh.
  • Yellow Sweet Spanish, which takes 110 days to harvest, is a long-day onion with large, white flesh.
  • Bermuda, which takes 185 days to harvest, is a short-day onion that produces large bulbs with mild-flavored, white flesh.
  • Yellow Granax (also known as Vidalia), which takes 120 days to harvest, is a short-day onion with large white bulbs.
  • Walla Walla Sweet, which takes 56 days to harvest, is a cold-hardy onion with sweet white flesh.
  • Redwing, which takes 59 days to harvest, is the best red onion.

Now that you have grown onions, it’s time to learn how to select and serve them. In the next section, we will teach you how to do just that. If you want to learn even more about onions, check out these links:

  • Why do onions make you cry? Find out what it is about onions that brings on the waterworks.
  • Vegetable Gardens: Grow a full harvest of great vegetables this year.
  • Gardening: We answer your questions about all things that come from the garden.

Selecting Onions

There are many different types of onions, and you’ll want to select the best type for your cooking needs. Dry onions, which are yellow, white, or red onions that do not require refrigeration, are different from green onions, which will spoil quickly when stored at room temperature.

Dry onions come in various shapes and colors, but none of these is a reliable indicator of taste or strength. The white or yellow globe onion keeps its pungent flavor when cooked, while all-purpose white or yellow onions are milder. Sweet onions, such as Bermuda, Spanish, and Italian, are the mildest.

When selecting dry onions, choose firm onions with shiny, tissue-thin skins. The “necks” should be tight and dry. If they look too dry or discolored or have soft, wet spots, they are not fresh. Dry onions can be stored for three to four weeks in a dry, dark, cool place. Do not store them next to potatoes, which give off gas that can cause onions to decay. Light can also turn onions bitter. Cut onions should be wrapped in plastic, refrigerated, and used within a day or two.

Green onions, also known as “spring” onions, have small white bulbs and thin green stalks. True scallions are just straight green stalks with no bulb. Choose green onions with crisp, not wilted, tops. For a pungent taste, choose fatter bulbs, while smaller bulbs will have a sweeter taste. Green onions must be refrigerated and kept in an open plastic bag in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer.

©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Try chilling onions before slicing to avoid the tear-inducing fumes.

If you want to prepare and serve onions without tears, try slicing them under running water or chilling them beforehand. Onions are a versatile seasoning that can be cooked to perfection, with their flavor becoming milder as they cook. Sweet onions are ideal for raw dishes such as salads and sandwiches, while green onions are great for stir-fry dishes or served raw with a dip. Onions are also rich in fiber and sulfur compounds, which have similar cardiovascular benefits to garlic. So, keep some onions on hand to add flavor and health benefits to your meals. Check out the links provided to learn more about onions.

Onions are a great source of phytochemicals known as flavonoids that enhance the function of vitamin C, reduce inflammation, and improve the integrity of blood vessels, all of which benefit the cardiovascular system. Quercetin, a specific flavonoid found in onions, may also help prevent colon cancer by inhibiting tumor growth. Additionally, a newly discovered compound in onions appears to be as effective as Fosamax, a prescription drug, in preventing bone loss in menopausal women.

Onions are also rich in chromium and vitamin C. Chromium is a mineral that helps cells respond to insulin, thereby improving blood glucose control. Green onions, with their bright green tops, are an excellent source of vitamin A.

When it comes to nutrition, half a cup of chopped dry onions contains 46 calories, 11 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, and 6 milligrams of vitamin C. The same serving size of fresh green onions has only 16 calories but provides 498 IU of vitamin A, 10 milligrams of vitamin C, and 867 micrograms of carotenoids.

For more information about onions, check out the following links: why onions make you cry, how onions fit into your nutrition plan, growing vegetables in your garden, and gardening tips. However, this information is for educational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Readers should always consult their physician or healthcare provider before starting any treatment or making any changes to their diet or exercise routine.


1. What are onions?

Onions are a type of vegetable that belong to the Allium family. They are a bulb-shaped vegetable with papery outer layers and can come in different varieties such as red, yellow, and white.

2. What are the health benefits of onions?

Onions are known to have many health benefits. They are low in calories and high in fiber, making them a great addition to any healthy diet. Onions also contain antioxidants that can help protect against cancer and heart disease.

3. How do you store onions?

Onions should be stored in a cool, dry place such as a pantry or cellar. They should be kept away from sunlight and moisture as this can cause them to spoil quickly. It is also important to store onions away from other fruits and vegetables as they can release gases that can cause them to spoil.

4. How do you prepare onions?

To prepare onions, first, cut off the top and bottom of the onion and remove the papery outer layers. Then, cut the onion in half and slice or dice it as needed for your recipe. Onions can be eaten raw or cooked and are a versatile ingredient in many dishes.

5. What are some popular dishes that use onions?

Onions are a staple ingredient in many dishes around the world. Some popular dishes that use onions include French onion soup, onion rings, onion bhaji, and blooming onion. Onions can also be used in stews, stir-fries, and salads.

6. Can onions be harmful to dogs?

Yes, onions can be harmful to dogs. They contain a compound called thiosulphate that can cause damage to a dog’s red blood cells, leading to anemia. If your dog has ingested onions, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately.

7. How do you prevent tears when cutting onions?

There are several ways to prevent tears when cutting onions. One way is to chill the onion in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before cutting it. Another way is to cut the onion under running water or to wear goggles while cutting it. Some people also suggest lighting a candle near the cutting board to help absorb the onion vapors.

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