Onion Gardening Failures

We are not very good onion gardeners.  We've tried for the last couple years, but never with any great success.  This year is the best so far leading me to have hope for years to come.  Even so they were still only about the size of a lime with a few slightly larger. 
Our main issue seems to be that the onion tops fall over prematurely.  All I can find seems to say this means the onions are done....but I find it hard to believe because it happens to us when the onions are still quite small.  Last year we basically got green onions and pearl onions.  The pearls were nice to roast, but that is really not what we are going for.  We want full sized onions!

We eat a lot of onion so it is high on the list of things we'd like to grow more of.   What else can we do....we will just have to keep trying!
After the gardening books were less than enlightening we spent some time walking around the community garden looking at other gardener's onions trying to eek out some guidance that way.  The onions that seemed to be growing the biggest and best were just barely in the ground, so maybe that is it.  Maybe we've just been planting them too deeply though we thought they were pretty shallow as it.  That is my current working theory on the matter. 

Any pointers as to what we might be doing wrong would be most appreciated.


  1. Perhaps a contained grow zone...what I mean is this. We raised celery as kids and my mom used tile from roofing to hold the celery up. So perhaps you save tins or plastic bottles etc cut off both ends and use on the top.

    I do this in early spring so the winds that are common in my neck of the woods do not topple the seedlings.

    For onions I also grow hill bunches and they lean upon eachother. Not book recommended but it works for me.

    Steady pace is my mantra on learning the old ways anew.

  2. The only thing I can add is--are you growing a variety that is supposed to be large? Read all you can on the internet. Good luck.

  3. We've had very disappointing onion sizes too. Mainly, for us I think it's the planting season. I've been advised to plant them in Sept, let them over-winter and they should come out of hibernation in the spring and the day length will help them take off to a nice size bulb. I started mine too early this year I think. They were started around April. So far the biggest onion is about the size of a pearl onion, which is sad. I think I'll let them dry out a bit, then stick them in the fridge and bring them out next year to plant and see if that will work. Also, I've been reading, they like sulphur. So I went ahead and bought some potassium sulphate, hoping that will help next year. I'm starting on planting the garlic soon. We had good success last year(2009~2010), but this year(2010~2011) it failed miserably. (They bulbs rotted in the ground!) We use a LOT of onion and garlic also, so it would be lovely if we can produce our own. Let us know if you find out the secret too! ;-)


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