Harvesting onions is easy, but it can be difficult for newbies to know when they are ready. So in this post, I will tell you how to figure out when to pick onions for the biggest and best crop, and show you exactly how to do it.
But of course, there are some important things to keep in mind so that you’ll have the best and healthiest crop. And, when you do it right, you will be able to store for the long term.
Below you’ll learn everything you need to know, including how to determine when they are ready, how to properly pick them, and tips for storing them.
Here’s what you’ll find in this detailed onion harvesting guide…
How To Know When Onions Are Ready To Harvest
Onions are edible at any point, no matter how small they are. You don’t have to wait until they are “ripe” to pick them.
So, if you need one for a recipe, simply pluck it out of the garden whenever you want.
Though you can pull them at any point, there is an ideal time to harvest onions. Especially if you want them to get as large as possible.
It’s easy to tell when they’re ready. The stem will turn brown, and usually fall over. When this happens, it means that they’re done growing, and ready to be pulled.
When To Harvest Onions
The best time to pick onions is right after the stem turns brown and falls over.
However, one of the great things about them is that you don’t need to pull them right away. You can leave them in the garden until YOU are ready.
That really helps take the stress out of harvesting, because so many other vegetables need to be picked as soon as they’re ready, or they could go bad.
As long as your garden stays fairly dry anyway. If you get a lot of rain, or the soil is really wet, then you shouldn’t wait too long to pluck your onions, or they could rot.
Don’t worry, they are pretty hardy, and won’t be bothered by frost. So you have plenty of time to get them all pulled before the cold fall weather comes.
Do You Harvest Onions Before They Flower?
Sometimes onions will start to flower before the stem turns brown. If that happens, then pull that one and use it right away.
You should not let them flower because that will steal all the energy from the bulb, making it super small. Which means there won’t be much left for you to eat.
How To Harvest Onions
Harvesting onions is as easy as just pulling them out of the ground. Inspect each one for damage, and gently squeeze it to make sure it’s firm.
If any of them are damaged or are showing signs of rot, then you’ll definitely want to use those up first, rather than trying to store them.
Also, be gentle when handling freshly picked onions. Don’t toss them into a pile, or haphazardly drop them into a bucket.
Mishandeling them like that could end up bruising them, which usually causes them to rot in storage much faster.
Related Post: Free Garden Harvest Tracking Sheet & Guide
How Often Can You Pick Onions?
You can pick onions as often as you’d like. As I mentioned above, they are edible at any stage, so you don’t have to wait for the stems to fall over.
Otherwise, just pick them as the stems turn brown, and leave the rest in the garden to grow larger. The longer you can leave them, the bigger they will get.
What To Do With Onions After You Pick Them
Onions need to be cured (dried) for several days before you store them, or they could rot or mold.
If it’s dry enough, you can simply pop them out of the ground, and let them sit there for a day or two until you’re ready to collect them.
Then move them into a garage or dry basement for several days or weeks to allow them to cure. When properly cured and stored, onions can last for six months to a year.
How To Dry Onions After Harvesting
To dry them after harvesting, you can bring your onions indoors. Then lay them out on cardboard or a shelf, spacing them so they aren’t touching each other.
If there’s no rain in the forecast, you can dry them in the sun, which will help speed up the process.
You’ll know they are cured when the stem is completely dry, the skins are tight, and there’s no moisture left on top of the bulb.
Once cured, you can simply trim off the stems, and put them into cool, dry, and dark location for winter storage. Check on them regularly for signs of rot or sprouting, and be sure to use those up first.
FAQS About Harvesting Onions
Now that we’ve gone over everything about digging up your bounty, you might still have a few questions. Here are some of the most common ones about onion harvesting.
Can you eat onions straight from the garden?
In short, yes, you can eat onions right after you pick them. And you definitely should for any that are pulled before the stem browns and bends.
Just note that sometimes freshly harvested onions don’t have as many dry layers on the outside, so you might need to rinse them to remove dirt instead of peeling them.
How long can you leave onions in the ground?
Once the stem has fallen over, onions can stay in the ground for several days before harvesting – as long as it is dry. That’s one of their best advantages!
However, if it’s wet or raining a lot, then they should not stay in the ground for very long, as they are likely to rot.
What happens if you don’t harvest onions?
It depends on how wet the ground is. If you don’t pull them after the stems fall over, they will likely rot, especially if the soil is very wet.
But sometimes they will sprout again after a period of dormancy. Dry ground is more likely to preserve the bulb until a new growing season.
Do you harvest onions before they flower?
Yes! If any of your onions start to flower, harvest them immediately. Otherwise, the bloom will steal nutrients from the bulb, leaving it small and tough. Of course, it’s still edible, but you won’t get as much out of it.
Now you’re an expert in harvesting onions! And you know exactly how to handle them for immediate use, or prepare them for long-term storage. Knowing when to pull onions will ensure you will have the largest, healthiest crop possible.
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More Posts About Harvesting
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- When And How To Harvest Tomatillos
Share your tips for harvesting onions in the comments below.