Onions all year round

Fresh onions in spring, preserves in winter: plant onions in your vegetable patch to provide for year-round availability in the kitchen!

There are many onion varieties.

White or fresh onions are planted in September and eaten in spring.

Colored onions – red, pink and yellow – are harvested at the end of the summer and can keep up to six months in a cool and dry spot.

Sowing onions

For areas that have a rather mild winter, you can plant onions in the ground directly, forming a line. Cover seeds with ½ inch (1 cm) soil. After sprouting, thin to keep one onion every 4 inches (10 cm).

It’s also possible to plant bulbs directly, from February in mild regions to April in harsher climates.

Caring for onions

Onions can thrive in all sorts of soils, as long as they are well drained. They like being in sunlit spots.

Downy mildew is among the main causes for losing crops. This can occur in summer, when strong rains follow a heat wave. Onion maggot flies are another enemy. They gnaw on onion leaves on the young spring shoots. Alternating rows of carrots and onions helps avoid onion maggot fly invasions. It is also possible to spray decoctions made from repellent plants such as garlic or absinthe, or set up an insect mesh to send the flies off.

Harvesting onions

Before harvesting onions for storage in August-September, cut back leaves to ensure that bulbs mature.

After a few days, pull the onions out and let them dry in the sun for 48 hours, spreading them out on racks.

Bring them inside for the night. Cut stems when dry, and keep your onions in a cool, dry place.

Health-related properties of onions

In the Alliaceae family, akin to garlic, onions are everywhere in cooking and boast many medicinal properties. With high antioxidant levels (especially for red onions), they are a source of manganese, vitamin B6 and vitamin C.

Ingesting them on a regular basis is said to protect against cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers.

Laure Hamann

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