To get the gardening season started and break up the doldrums of winter, I like to get things going by starting onions from seed. Onions can be grown from seeds, sets or plants. Sets are generally the most popular way to start onions since they can be started directly in the garden without danger of frost damage. I liketo start onions from seed.
Starting onions from seeds instead of sets gives you an opportunity to try different varieties that are usually not available if starting from onion sets. This year I’m growing White Sweet Spanish Utah’s and Candy onions.
I started this year’s batch last weekend. The seeds should be started about 10 weeks before putting them in the ground in the spring. In my zone 5, I plant them in the garden around the 1st week in April. The seeds take about 5 – 8 days to germinate in a temperature range from 65 to 80 degrees. I keep the ambient temperature in the mid-70’s using the florescent lights in my homemade indoor growing station.
I’m using 12” x 18” x 6” seed flats to start the onions. A friend made these seed flats for me modeled after the seed flats used by John Jeavons and the Bountiful Gardens group. I keep the onions in the flats for the entire indoor growing time.
It has been about 6 days since I planted the seeds and they are starting to emerge. They come up as a very tiny, green hair-like fiber. They’ll continue to grow tall with the roots growing down long and stringy. When the onions reach about 6” tall, I’ll give them a “haircut” to keep them at about 3” until they are ready to transplant. As the onions grow, they’ll also get thicker with the bulb starting to form.
So what are you waiting for? If you’re looking to break-up the winter and get back in the gardening mode, starting onions is the perfect way to go. Give it a try and let me know how it goes!