As we look forward to the start of spring, we’d like to take this opportunity to go over a few onion growing tips we’ve developed over the past few years.

Tip #1: Start your onion seeds indoors early. We start our onion seeds at the beginning March. This gives them lots of time to grow and develop a strong root system before being transplanted out in the spring. This goes for leeks, and shallots as well.

Tip #2: You can sow onion seeds relatively think in their starter pots. This saves space, especially later on when space is at a premium. Make sure to gently pull apart the individual plants while keeping the roots intact and giving each plant enough space when planting out in the garden. Cut off part of the tips, leaving at least 4 inches of greenery when transplanting to encourage new growth.

Tip #3: Give onions a full sun spot. Less than full sun will result in slower growing bulbs and smaller onions. For green onion this isn’t that big of an issue, though you will need to factor in additional time for them to grow if they are planted in a more shady location

Tip #4: Watch out for botrytis, especially in humid summer conditions. Botrytis is characterized by small white spots of flecks on the leaves. If left untreated, the leaves will become brown and the plant can eventually die.

Lindsey du Toit, Washington State University,
Photo: Lindsey du Toit, Washington State University,

For help in choosing onion varieties, purchasing started onion transplants and more information, let us help you with planning your garden or purchasing young transplants from us this spring. [Got a Tip?] If you have a tip to share with your fellow urban farmers, let us know at tips@youngurbanfarmers.comWant More Tips? Browse our Tips Archive for more.