Mary's Veggie Garden

June 29, 2011

Harvesting Onions Early

Filed under: Gardening,Onions,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 8:09 pm

“Wow, look at those onions!”  The happy shout rang across the community gardens at Vassar Farm, as gardeners returned to their plots 6/24  after 2 days of rain.  It seemed like the onions doubled in size during our absence.  Onion bulb formation is triggered by day length. June 21 has the most daylight and now our daylight hours are getting shorter so the onions are starting to form bulbs. The rain got the process off to a fast start.

Southport White Globe onions 6/25.

A close inspection of the onions reveals the swelling bulb at the base of the leaves.  Some poking around uncovers a good-sized onion. Can these onions be harvested?

The usual directions for onion harvest are to wait until the necks dry and the leaves flop over. In Dutchess County, NY that happens in early August. For years I waited until August, even though I had to buy those horrid, sprouting store onions for cooking.

Recently I learned onions can be harvested for immediate eating at any time! Early in the season they are like scallions: green onions with no bulb.  Now they are forming bulbs, but haven’t yet formed a protective layer of skin.

Southport White Globe onions harvested 6/28.

These onions, harvested today (6/28) are practically full-sized – four ounces each. Almost the entire plant can be eaten, both the greens and the bulb.  The outer layers of the narrow neck are a bit tough and should be removed, but the inside of the neck is  tender. I trimmed away the roots and removed a partial layer of onion skin before taking the photo.

The lack of skin means these onions cannot be stored very long but that is OK, they will go into the chili tomorrow.

If you have several onions that have sized up, harvest the ones with the thickest necks first.  The thick necks don’t dry well so those onions will not store very long.

1 Comment »

  1. Beautiful!

    Comment by Kim — August 3, 2011 @ 11:04 am | Reply

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