Grid planting onion bulbs is my favorite and arguably the easiest way to plant your onion bulbs or sets.
Do onions grow underground?
Yes! They do. Onions are a root vegetable, which means you’re actually eating the root of the plant much like carrots, beets, and radishes. Many people start onions from seed, but at my current stage in life, that has not been and adventure I had decided to embark on. I much prefer to plant onion bulbs or “sets” which are dried immature onions from the season before.
These bulbs are small and just need a chance to mature into a medium or large onion like you would typically use. Since you’re essentially growing and onion from an onion, they can be harvested and used throughout the summer at all stages and sizes.
Purchasing onion bulbs (AKA sets)
I purchase my onion bulbs in bags of 100. They are readily available at most farm stores and garden centers. Most places carry at least 2 or three varieties, allowing you to choose from yellow, white, or red onions. Since I dry mine for winter storage, I choose yellow onions. The yellow onions have kept the better than other varieties for me, year after year. If you’re wanting enough to feed your family for an entire year plan to purchase several bags. I usually plant 200-300 onions!
Planting Onion Bulbs
Raised bed vs row planting
After many years of planting onions in rows, I decided one year to plant my onions in a small raised bed, and came up with the planting method I will be using again this year. Grid planting. We have such high weed pressure at our current house that I’m constantly weeding the rows, even if I mulch. Planting onions directly in the ground has required a lot of weeding. We also have chickens, and the one year they thought the onion tops looked like tasty worms, and went along plucking nearly the entire row out of the soil.
This grid planting method this is a super easy way to transplant your onion seedlings, onion sets, or onion bulbs into your garden. You could use it directly on a tilled area of the garden, but I have chosen to use one of our raised beds. By using newspaper as a base to deter weed growth, and then a square grid rather than rows of onions, I had better success at managing the weed pressure with less work.
Grid Planting Onion Bulbs
Prepare the Soil
Lightly till the soil to loosen the top layer of dirt, and pull any weeds that may have already sprouted.
Layer with Paper
Use old newspapers to cover the area with one to two layers of paper. Wet the paper thoroughly. This not only keeps it from blowing away while you are working, but allows you to easily puncture the paper while planting. Once the paper dries it will hopefully be fused into one sheet that stays in place until you are ready to mulch.
Punch the Grid Holes
Using a stick or dowel approximately 3/4 -1 inch in diameter, punch holes through the paper and down and inch or two into the dirt. Place the holes approximately 5 inches apart going both vertically and horizontally. If you are having trouble with the paper or dirt sticking to the stick or ripping, try using a twisting motion as you pull the stick back out.
My beds are 3 feet wide and 6 feet long. By doing 10 rows across I can plant 200 onions per bed.
Place the Onion Bulbs
Drop one onion bulb into each hole. This is a great job to assign to a younger child to get them actively participating in the garden. Be sure to put the root side of the bulb down, and the sprout side up. It’s ok if part of the onion is sticking out of the ground.
The paper will keep the weeds down while the onions are getting started. Cover the paper with a thin layer of dirt to keep it in place. Once your onions are several inches tall you may want to mulch for continuous weed management. Eventually the paper will break down or weeds will find their way through.
Share Your Success
I’d love to see your garden. Tag me on social media #lifeonknoll22 or @lifeonknoll22 with your pictures!