How Do I Know When My Onions Are Ready?
Onions are officially ready to harvest when the tops turn yellow or brown and fall over. Some of your plants may grow the maximum number of leaves: 13. At this point, you need to stop watering and wait for the tops to fall over; then it’s time to harvest. Even if your plants haven’t reached 13 leaves, your onions are ready to harvest when the tops fall over naturally; they’ll still be robust. If you’re eager to harvest, you can bend over the tops to stop the bulbing process.
Be sure to harvest early on a clear day, and lay the onions out in the field for at least a full day to dry. Place the tops of one row over the bulbs of the next to keep the onions from getting sunscald.
How Do I Dry My Onions?
Your onions need to be thoroughly dried, or cured, in order to store properly and to avoid rot and spoilage. If you don’t expect rain for several days, you can leave them out in the field to cure. Your goal is to get them dry enough that the skin at the neck is tight and doesn’t slip. Also, the outer leaves should become dry and rustle when touched while the skin takes on a uniform texture and color. Don’t remove the dry outer layers as they help protect the onion until it’s ready to eat.
If you expect rain, dry your onions indoors instead. Spread them out with plenty of room between them in a well-ventilated area with low humidity. If you can, leave a fan set on low to hasten the curing process. When the onions are completely dried, you can clip off the roots and trim the tops down to 1-2 inches long.
How Do I Store My Onions?
Onions store best in a cool, dry, well-ventilated location. To maximize storage length, keep them in mesh bags or netting that permit airflow. Check them every once in a while for softness or spoilage, and remove any bad onions immediately. Use your sweet onions first since they don’t last as long as their more pungent cousins.
The Good Harvest
Onions can be a fulfilling crop that continues to reward you for months after harvest if you take care with them during harvesting, drying, and storing. All it takes is the few easy steps we’ve outlined here to keep your onions tasty and nutritious for months.