Can you grow red onions even if you live in the city? Yes! Here are three easy, simple ways how you can build a mini red onion garden in the concrete jungle.
In this article:
- Planting Red Onion Seeds
- Planting Onion Seedlings
- Planting Onion Scraps
- Extra Tips on How to Grow Red Onions in the City
3 Easy Ways to Grow Red Onions in the City (Plus Helpful Tips)
1. Planting Red Onion Seeds
Grow your own red onions from small seeds you can find at any gardening store. This method is perfect for those who want to do everything from starting the seeds to harvesting red onions themselves.
Step 1: Start Onion Seeds Indoors
You can’t plant red onion seeds outdoors right from the get-go. These tiny seeds won’t be able to withstand the harsh elements of large garden patches or even garden beds.
That’s why you need to start them first indoors. Grab a small container or pot of soil and then sow the seeds into them.
Place them at least 1 centimeter apart from each other and cover the spots where the seeds were planted with a thin compost layer. The seeds should be ready for planting in six to eight weeks.
Step 2: Care for the Seedlings
Onion seedlings need damp, moist soil to sprout. As a general rule, water the seedlings at least one to three times a week every time the soil dries up.
Gardening Tip: Wait for the soil to dry up before watering the seedlings. Overwatering will drown the seedlings and possibly make them rot.
Step 3: Transfer the Seedlings
After six to eight weeks, measure your onion sprouts. They should have grown to around one to two inches tall and be strong enough to withstand outdoor weather conditions.
However, you can’t just transfer them to a new area right away. Rather, you need to ease them into their new home slowly and give them time to adjust.
So the first thing you need to do is to transfer the red onion seedling pot outdoors. Leave it there for around one to three days.
Once the seedlings are ready, transfer them to your garden bed in multiple one-inch deep holes. Maintain at least three to four inches of distance between each seedling and cover them with a generous layer of compost.
Gardening Tip: Your seedlings will adapt better to outside weather conditions if you place the pots in shaded areas one week before transferring them. Doing so will help the seedlings harden.
2. Planting Onion Seedlings
Ask your local nursery whether they carry onion seedlings. Growing red onions from seedlings rather than seeds is a bit more convenient since you won’t have to start the seeds anymore.
Step 1: Prepare the Seedlings and Soil
Before planting red onions seedlings, separate them from each other because they usually come in packages of 10 to 20 bundles. You can buy the seedlings at local nurseries or gardening stores.
Next, prepare the garden patches or beds where you plan on growing onions. Red onions love sunlight so make sure it’s an open space away from large plants that may block the sun.
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Step 2: Prepare the Compost
As with any other vegetable, healthy, nutrient-dense soil will help onions grow fat and flavorful.
However, sourcing high-quality soil is especially hard now that most major gardening stores, hardware shops, and nurseries are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What you can do is to add nutrients to the soil by using a compost layer. Order some online and mix it with nitrogen-rich potting soil. Keep the mixture 50-50.
Step 3: How to Plant Red Onions Seedlings
Dig multiple one-inch holes in your garden bed or patch. Make sure each hole is at least four inches apart from each other. Otherwise, they’ll end up fighting for nutrients.
Then, carefully transfer the seedlings inside the one-inch holes. The root ends should be facing down and the green shoots a few inches above the ground.
Afterward, cover the area with your soil-compost mixture. Water the growing red onions one to four times a week every time the soil dries up.
3. Planting Onion Scraps
What makes this method so cool is that you don’t need to go to a local gardening store or nursery to buy seeds or seedlings. You can just use the onion scraps in your house.
This is very helpful because many stores have closed down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Plus, going outside isn’t advisable.
Step 1: Prepare the Onion Scraps
Peel the paper-like outer layer off of the onions. Set the peels aside so you can use them later on in your compost mixture.
Next, open the red onions up by cutting them toward the center. Do not slice directly in the middle as you might hit the bulb — which is what we need to plant.
Then, slice the onion’s base to expose the bulb and slice it out by making small vertical cuts around it. Once you’ve extracted the bulb, set the onion aside for your consumption.
Do the same with all the other onions you want to extract bulbs from.
Step 2: Prepare the Onion Bulb
Submerge the onion bulbs in individual bowls, containers, or cups filled with clean water. Leave them for a few days until roots sprout from the bulb. They’re ready for planting once the roots grow one inch.
Step 3: Transfer the Onion Bulb
Next, it’s time to transfer the onion bulbs. Dig multiple one-inch holes spaced about four inches apart from each other.
Then, carefully transfer the bulbs with the roots facing down. Cover the holes with soil and a generous layer of compost.
Water one to four times every week depending on how often it rains in your city. Do not water the onions unless the soil is already dry. Otherwise, you might risk drowning them.
Extra Tips on How to Grow Red Onions in the City
- Use Garden Beds: We encourage growing your onions in garden beds if you don’t have a proper backyard. If you live in an apartment, however, try growing them in pots. However, note that potted onions won’t be as fat and rich.
- Plant Seasonally: The last weeks of March or the first weeks of April are the most ideal times to start planting red onions.
- Position Onions by Sunlight: Getting enough sunlight is essential for your red onions to grow.
In addition to onions, you can also grow these other vegetables and herbs from scraps, check out this video from Learn To Grow:
Building an onion farm when you have limited space is difficult, but there are workable solutions. It’s not impossible for city dwellers to grow red onions.
Also, red onion plants require little maintenance. The most work you’ll have to do after planting the roots is to water the plant at least once a day. This makes red onions the perfect plants to start with if you have little experience with gardening or don’t have much free time.
Maybe you have planting tips and tricks you can share with us, we’d love to know about them! Please share them in the comments section below.
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