An onion set is a small onion bulb. Some grower somewhere planted onion seeds and grew them for a while until each seed grew into an onion bulb about 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch in diameter. The grower harvested all these little bulbs, cured them, bagged them up, then sold them to a middlemen who sold them to a retailer who sold them to me.
We took the bag of onion sets home, prepared a garden bed for them and planted them in the soil. Two months (give or take) later the onions were ready to harvest. Onions tell you when they are ready to harvest by falling over. Garlic does the same thing. Rather handy actually. If you leave the onions in the ground after they fall over, it won't be long before all those green onion tops dry out and eventually blow away making it difficult to find the onions. So I try to harvest before the tops dry out.
|Onions laying down and ready to harvest|
|Onions harvested, now the real work begins|
I like to rinse the dirt off of the onions before I cure them. First I laid the onions out on the driveway in a single layer.
|Laid out and ready for a rinse|
Next I rinsed the dirt off the onions with the hose. My helper had great fun with this task.
|After - not perfect but much cleaner|
|Rinsed off and left to dry|
|Tied and ready to cure|
The pile of onions above the bunches are onions that either did not have a green top to tie up (because I pulled the top off while trying to get the onion out of the ground) or were not really fit to be cured. A few of the onions had really thick or big necks. An onion with a large neck will not cure well. Usually those onions rot after a month or so of harvest because the neck never dries out "sealing" the onion inside. So this pile of onions I just move into the kitchen to be used up first.
The last step in curing the onions is to store them somewhere where they will get lots of air circulation and be able to dry out the outer layers and neck properly. For us, this is our garage. It is warm all summer and has ceiling fans running constantly. I hang the onion bunches on a ladder in the garage and leave them there for 2 to 3 weeks until they are ready for storage in a cool pantry in our basement. Someday I hope for a root cellar. For more information about storing onions, see my Storing Onions post here.
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