Harvesting Onions for the Food Bank

red onions

Onions are one of the easiest crops to grow. Since I have young children plant onions in the spring, I use sets which are like miniature onions. Above are the set you would use for red onions.I used the yellow onions sets this year. The onion sets are easy for children to handle as onion seed is so tiny. I was able to have the children plant about 60 sets into a raised bed.

harvesting onions

Two weeks ago I harvested the onions. The green tops had tipped over and started to yellow. I cut back on watering so the bulb would grow larger underground. This is how an onion looks once out of the ground. It has a very long stem and a healthy set of roots. I have had two people ask me what the green stem was. Onions look very different fresh picked  than in the grocery store.

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Look at the healthy root system on the onions.

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I left the onions out under my shed roof to cure for a couple of weeks but I had to clean them up. No one would pick this onion at the grocery store with the black marks on the skin like this. Food bank recipients wouldn’t either.

harvesting onions

There may still be a bit of soil on the onions after curing. I just gently peeled the damaged layer of onion skin away and this is how it looks now.

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You want to remove the tiny bits of soil that are caught between the onion skins. Leaving the soil there can only lead to rot. Onions are so prone to rots so its good to err on the side of caution. If you see an onion that doesn’t look good even after cleaning it up, toss it in the trash. One rotten onion in the bunch can affect the rest of your crop.

harvesting onions

It will take some time to clean your onions but they should look like this when you are done. The roots have been trimmed short, the skins are as clean as I can get them without having a bare onion and the necks are left a few inches long. They still need a week or so of curing to dry up the neck some more. I will leave them on trays to continue curing in my cool garage until drop off time at the food bank. Onions can be eaten at any time but if you want to store them for a long time, curing must be done right. I know I am dropping the onions off for the food bank so they will be used up right away as each person may only get one or two onions.

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