Common Name: Onion (Allium Cepa)
Seed Saving Level: Advanced
Planting: Onions will cross with each other, but not with leeks or chives. Seeds germinate better in darkness. Sow seeds indoors 8-9 weeks prior to setting plants to the garden. Thin to 3 inches.
Harvesting: Harvest bulbs when they are 1-2 inches in diameter.
Seed Saving: Onions need cold weather to induce flowering. Don’t save seed plants that bolt during their first year of growth. To collect seeds, let plants overwinter and then flower. Let seeds mature and dry on the plants. The fruit is a capsule with three cells. Each cell contains one or two black seeds when mature. Carefully cut umbel from stalk when seeds are visible. Bag umbels and let dry inside for 2-3 weeks. Winnow and sieve.
Year 2: To replant, cut off rotted, dried tissue, cut an X in the top of the onion to facilitate the seed stalk’s emergence and cover the entire bulb with about ½ inch of soil. Plants will resprout and grow; remove those that are early to bolt.
Sources: Complete Guide to Saving Seeds (2011) by Robert Gough and Cheryl Moore-Gough, Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners (2002) by Suzanne Ashworth, almanac.com.
Books and ebooks:
- The Beginner's Guide to Growing Heirloom Vegetables
- The Mini Farming Guide to Vegetable Gardening
- Vegetable Literacy
- Onions, SNAP-Ed Connection, U.S, Department of Agriculture, opens a new window
- Onion Seed, University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, opens a new window
- Bulb Onion, University of Arizona College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, opens a new window
Recipe: Sausage with Acorn Squash and Onions
- 1 large acorn squash, halved, seeded, and cut into ½-inch slices
- 1 red onion, cut into ¼-inch wedges
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- Course salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 hot or sweet Italian sausages
- ½ cup grated Asiago cheese
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage leaves
- ¼ cup dried cherries, chopped
Preheat oven to 475°. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss squash and onion with the oil and arrange in a single layer; season with salt and pepper. Add sausages to sheet. Roast until vegetables are just tender, 15-18 minutes. Heat broiler, with rack about 8 inches from heating element. Sprinkle Asiago and sage over vegetables, and broil until cheese is browned and bubbling and sausages are cooked through, 3 minutes. Serve with cherries sprinkled on top.
Source: One Pot by Martha Stewart Living (2014).