Introductory text, variety descriptions and photos copyright © Dixondale Farms; used here by permission.

VarietiesOther Information
Short Day Varieties
Intermediate Day Varieties
Long Day Varieties
When to Plant
Onion Planting
Onion History
Onion Laws
Onion Recipes

It is hard to say when the onion came into being. They were grown in Ancient Egypt, and eventually arrived in Rome and became known as the word onion (from the Latin word UNIO, which means large pearl). In Middle English, it became UNYON. The status of the onion rose after French Onion Soup was made popular by Stanislaus I, the former King of Poland.

Selecting the Best Varieties for Your Area

When onions are first planted, their growth is concentrated on new roots and green leaves or tops. The onion will first form a top and then when a specific combination of daylight, darkness, and temperature is reached, bulb formation starts. The size of the mature onion bulb is dependent on the number and size of the tops. For each leaf, there will be a ring of onion; the larger the leaf, the larger the ring will be. The confusing part is that each variety needs a particular combination. For instance, a variety that needs many hours of summer light will not perform well in an area that receives fewer hours of light. Onion growers categorize onions in one of three ways: Short Day, Intermediate Day, and Long Day.

Tips for Successful Onion Growth

Onion plants are hardy and can withstand temperatures as low as 20o F. They should be set out 4 to 6 weeks prior to the date of the last average spring freeze.

When you obtain onion plants, they should be dry. Do not wet them or stick their roots in soil or water. Unpack your plants and store them in a cool, dry place until you plant them. Properly stored onion plants will last up to three weeks. Do not worry if the plants become dry. As soon as they are planted, they will "shoot" new roots and green tops.

Before obtaining your plants, you may want to begin soil preparation. Onions are best grown on raised beds at least 4 inches high and 20 inches wide. Onions need a very fertile and well-balanced soil. Organic gardeners should work in rich finished compost, high in Nitrogen and Phosphorus with plentiful minerals. Spread lime if soil is too acidic. If using commercial fertilizer (10-20-10), make a trench in the top of the bed 4 inches deep, distribute one-half cup of the fertilizer per 10 linear feet of row. Cover the fertilizer with 2 inches of soil.

For more detailed information on onion growth, visit the onion planting section.

Cooking tips

To reduce tearing when peeling or slicing an onion, chill for 30 minutes or cut off the top, but leave the root on. The root has the largest amount of sulphuric compounds, which is what causes tears when the onion is peeled or cut. Remove the root prior to cooking or eating.

Prolonged cooking takes the flavor out of onions. Cook only until they're tender when tested with a fork.

For more cooking information and onion recipes, visit the onion recipes section.

Nutritional Information

1 medium Raw onion contains:

  • 60 Calories
  • 1 gram Protein
  • 14 grams Carbohydrates
  • 0 Fat
  • 0 Cholesterol
  • 10 mg Sodium
  • 200 mg Potassium
  • 11.9 mg Vitamin C (20% of USRDA)
Did You Know?

Onions are high in energy and water content. They are low in calories, and have a generous amount of B6, B1, and Folic acid.

Onions contain chemicals which help fight the free radicals in our bodies. Free radicals cause disease and destruction to cells which are linked to at least 60 diseases.

To make onions milder, soak them in milk or pour boiling water over slices and let stand. Rinse with cold water.

When a person eats at least 1/2 a raw onion a day, their good type HDL cholesterol goes up an average of 30%. Onions increase circulation, lower blood pressure, and prevent blood clotting.

Hypertext markup by Gretchen Eagle and Dan Lineberger http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/archives/parsons/publications/onions/onions.html