One of our downfalls that’s plagued us is our inability so far to grow and store large onions. First year we had scallions. Second year we planted onions but they only grew to the size of scallions because we had them planted too close to the Black Walnut tree. Black Walnuts release a chemical that stunts other plants. It’s a survival technique we found out 2 year after we bought the farm. Last year the onions got only a little larger than golf ball size and when we tried to cure them they dried up!
We’ve read all the recommendations on how to grow onions and tried variations of them without full success. We decided to try the most extreme strategy which is labor intensive, but supposed to result in the largest possible onion so we hope it works this time.
It appears the deeper you plant onions the SMALLER the bulb will be. That seems counter intuitive so I didn’t believe it until we tried various ways without good results. To get the bulb larger, you plant more shallow, then as the bulb starts to surface you keep covering it with a rich blend of compost and soil. Mounding on top of the onions over and over again can be difficult in an environment like ours due to high winds and torrential downpours which just pull the soil back down.
Digging trenches into the bed will allow us to plant the onion sets shallowly and then taking the soil from either side of the row, slowly covering the bulb as it surfaces. The trenches will also capture and funnel water directly to the plants which is extremely important for onion growth as well.
This is really a test. If we get large onions this year then we know how to grow them for customers. Until then, we will keep trying!
Take a look at the onion bed on the farm’s YouTube Channel: