Do you always use red onions for cooking? Many people prefer this type of onion than their white and yellow cousins. Compared to the white variety, red onions have a sharper flavor. They have a hint of spice and sweetness in them so they are perfect for pickles and salsa. Since you can eat them raw, you can use them for salads and sandwiches.
You can easily find red onion in groceries, along with other types of onions. But if you use red onions almost every day, you might have considered growing them in your garden. After all, it will save you a lot to have your own onions at home. Aside from time, you can also some bit of money if you do not have to drive to the grocery for your onions.
In this post, we will share with you how to grow red onions in three ways – using seeds, from scraps, and with hydroponics or growing red onions in water. Read on to learn how to grow onions from an onion and from seeds.
What Red Onions are and Why You Should Grow Them
Healthwise, red onions are better for you than white onions. All onions have cancer fighting properties. However, a study published by the Food Research International concludes that red onion packs the heaviest punch against cancerous cells. Red onions have more of the antioxidants anthocyanin and quercetin.
Antioxidants, according to Medical News Today, “prevent or slow damage to cells…” Anthocyanin is known to impart a dark color to fruits and vegetables. It is therefore logical that the redder the onion is, the more antioxidant it has. The flavonoid quercetin is also great for you. It helps your body fight heart diseases and certain types of cancer.
Red onion also has less calorie content than white onions. For every 100 grams of each, red onion has 37 calories while white onion has 42 calories. In terms of fiber, red onion has more than white onion per serving. Red onion is better than white onion also in terms of calcium content and iron content.
In short, red onion is the better choice in the types of onions. It is healthier for you, and it does not hurt that it adds great flavor in your meals as well, whether they are cooked or uncooked.
It is also very important to remember that onions grow in moderately cold temperatures but thrive in warm weather. It is best if you plant them near the end of spring and allow them to grow during the warm summer days.
Step-by-Step Guide on How to Grow Red Onions
Step 1: Prep your soil by adding a time-release fertilizer in it. Adding fertilizers before the planting stage guarantees the fertility of your soil and the success of your crop. Always look for fertilizers made from eco-friendly ingredients. Avoid fertilizers containing urea and ammonium nitrate because these are synthetics.
Put the fertilizers below the planting furrow. This process is called banding. You want the fertilizer below the planting furrow because you want the onion bulb to be right where the nutrients are: underground. For a more nutritious soil mixture, add a little bit of compost before adding the fertilizers.
Step 2: Plant the red onion seeds on your soil. The seeds should be planted an inch deep on a nitrogen-rich medium. The spacing of each seed should be at least a centimeter apart. You can add peat moss to add acidity to your soil.
Step 3: Once the top grows, prepare to transplant them in a wider area. This time, they should be around 15 centimeters apart from each other.
Step 4: Settle the soil by watering the base. Once the top grows a few inches tall, start watering your plant. Watering should be done only once or twice a week to avoid overwatering your red onion plant.
Though you should not over water your onions (or any plants, for that matter), they do need a steady supply of water. Onion roots are quite shallow. This means that the water may rest just beyond the reach of the onion roots. Also, a consistent supply of water will also make the onions sweeter.
More Red Onion Care Tips
First of all, consider the fact that onion’s temperature requirement is quite complicated. The top has a strong preference for cold weather while the bulbs grow faster in warm climates. The onion plant requires full sun. once the bulbs are forming, your red onions should get up to 16 hours of sun exposure.
If you’re wondering how to grow onions from an onion, start by cutting it an inch off the bottom. Then plant it on a well-draining soil. The hydroponics style is done by poking the onion with a toothpick. Growing red onions in water is done by placing half the body of the poked onion on water.
How long do red onions take to grow? The average time these onions grow is four months. It’s fine to pull them after a few weeks but that’s if you’re just going to use them like scallions or just the top and not the bulbs.
How to Harvest and Store Your Red Onion
Onion bulb grows underground so you have to dig them up to get them. Just shake the loose soil off. As with any type of onion, red onions should be cured. This method is done to ensure your onions are fully dry before you store them. With red onions, you can do the curing process on any bare floor.
Just lay them on the floor with the tops still attached. Make sure that the place is warm and airy. Keep the onions dry for ten days. The roots should shrivel and the neck should dry out. You can then either cut the roots and tops with a pair of pruning shears or just braid them.
It’s crucial to air-dry the onions for up to two days following the curing method. This ensures the onion will be completely ready for storage. This process also prevents the bulbs from rotting, which often happens because of disease in the soil.
How will you know if your onions are ready to harvest? Look for signs of the leaves flopping over. You can see it at the “neck” or the bottom part of your onion top. Look for the leaves turning yellow and falling over. This is a sign that your bulb stopped growing and you can finally harvest them. Red onions should be placed in a cool and dry place to avoid rotting.
Other Red Onion Benefits
Red onions are good for the blood because they contain a low glycemic index. That means they can help in reducing your blood sugar levels. Including red onion in your diet reduces blood pressure and keeps your heart healthy. Like other varieties of onions, the red ones are rich in quercetin, an antioxidant that protects the arteries from bad cholesterol.
As was already mentioned above, red onions have anti-cancer benefits. The myricetin found in red onions can protect your cells from damage and even cancer. Studies suggest that red onions help in preventing certain types of cancer, such as colon cancer.
Red onions have a wide range of medicinal uses. For instant cold relief, add the onions on a pair of socks, touching your feet. Wear the socks with the red onions overnight. You will feel better the next morning. You can also simmer them on broth or soup to get its medicinal benefits.
Growing red onions can be done in different ways. The easiest method is to slice onion bulbs or store-bought onions then plant them on acidic soil. Growing red onions in water is possible. Once you see them sprout, you can finally plant them an inch deep.
The most complicated method of growing your red onions is germinating them from seeds. However, it takes a while before the bulbs grow. It takes a bit of research on how to get the seeds from an onion. But it’s considered the best way to grow your onions because you can expect large bulbs with them.
It takes some patience to grow red onions. They are not recommended for beginner gardeners because of their delicate requirements in terms of watering, soil, and temperature. They are unlike some plants which are easy to grow, such as basil and fenugreek. You will need to undergo some trial and error before succeeding at growing onions. But once you do, you can enjoy better yields. You can even start onion farming and start a business.