Q &A | Early Onion Harvesting

Question: I’ve been told that if I knock over the tops of my onions, they will be ready to harvest earlier. Is this true? 

Bending over or breaking the tops of onions will indeed result in an earlier harvest, but at the expense of bulb size. The longer the onion tops remain green and healthy, the larger the resulting onion. Therefore, you should wait until at least half of your onion tops have fallen over naturally and begun to yellow before harvesting. At that point, you can gently lift all the bulbs with a spading fork and lay them out to dry on the surface of the ground. If rain threatens, move them to a well-ventilated garage or other dry location.

For long-term storage, the skins must be allowed to become fully dry and papery—which may take two or three weeks. The roots and the dried tops can then be trimmed off and the bulbs can be stored in mesh bags or in shallow boxes in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location.

This post was excerpted from the July/August 2001 issue of Horticulture Magazine.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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Read more about curing and storing onions and other root vegetables in Smart Gardening Techniques: Root Crops.

Learn how to turn your fresh edibles into healthy, easy-to-cook meals with The $7 a Meal Slow Cooker Cookbook.

Discover inspiration and tips for growing practical vegetable and herb gardens in Horticulture: Fruits & Veggies CD.

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