Winter sowing onion seeds


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Hello everyone! Hope you all had a wonderful holiday and have an even better, happy, and healthy New Year!

My question here is for anyone that can advise on winter sowing onions. I keep coming across information that says it’s a great option, but it depends on location? I have read that Dec-Feb is the time period but i am not sure if any of months specifically differ for the zoning area. My zoning area is 4a-4b-5a between those. I have started seeds in the past two gardening season indoors in the months of February, but have not yielded much. Any thoughts here will help guys..
Thanks!
 
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So you started the seed indoors in February, but when did you plant out and when did you harvest?
Planting seeds indoors early is a good way to extend a growing season and possibly get an earlier harvest.
Do you attribute your low yield to the early planting?
 
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Meadowlark

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You will need long day onion varieties. If it were me, I would check with a local gardener who knows the best routine for onions in your area.

Here, I grow short day varieties and plant in November harvest following May.
 
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So you started the seed indoors in February, but when did you plant out and when did you harvest?
Planting seeds indoors early is a good way to extend a growing season and possibly get an earlier harvest.
Do you attribute your low yield to the early planting?
I transplanted in mid April both times. I honestly don’t know. My first garden year i didn’t achieve any bulbs. My second garden year i did get some onions, but not very big and not as many as I should have for the amount of seeds I planted.
 
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You will need long day onion varieties. If it were me, I would check with a local gardener who knows the best routine for onions in your area.

Here, I grow short day varieties and plant in November harvest following May.
Ok. So winter sowing is not a good option for me?
 
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So you started the seed indoors in February, but when did you plant out and when did you harvest?
Planting seeds indoors early is a good way to extend a growing season and possibly get an earlier harvest.
Do you attribute your low yield to the early planting?
Oh I harvested my first onion in September! Not good right? I also had a lot of Ron second garden season and my first season was very hot and dry…
 
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Long-day onions planted in Spring would not be fully mature until late Summer or Fall, so September is a reasonable harvest time.
Plant extra that you can harvest early as green onions.
It is true that long-day onion cultivars are what is commonly grown in northern gardens, but if you do start onions inside in Winter, you might want to try Short-day onions since they would provide an earlier harvest, but only if the seedlings are at a fairly good size for Spring planting ...but it might not be reasonable to have onion starts that large unless you grew them all Winter.
 
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I have grown from seed and from sets, but what decides whether I get a good crop is the ground more than anything. When I have had an onion bed that I have composted, fertilized and cared for lovingly for several years is when I have got good crops. At the moment I am somewhere I only moved in a couple of years ago, the beds are new and raw and my onion crops are very mediocre still. Hopefully this year will be better.
 

Meadowlark

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Short of discussing with a successful local onion grower in NY, this article from Cornell University entitled "Onions in NY" seems very much on point:

pmep.cce.cornell.edu/fqpa/crop-profiles/onion.html

"Onions are mostly direct seeded in the field although some are transplanted as seedlings or sets. Transplants are sometimes used to improve bulb size, to hasten maturity, or to avoid infection by some plant diseases, but this method of crop establishment is more expensive. Planting occurs from late March through early May. Most onions are grown on muck soils, however some onions are being successfully grown on well-drained mineral soils with supplemental irrigation and fertilizer."

I grow well in excess of 200 pounds of yellow and red onions (see avatar) and have done so for many decades. I can't overemphasize the importance of local hands-on knowledge vs theory from someone who may or may not have ever grown onions in NY.
 
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Onions are tricky to learn how to grow them in your area keep good notes on paper. What is your day length when warm weather temperature is 50° every day? Onions don't grow if it is too cold they set and wait for warmer weather. I live in zone 7 about 30 miles south of Nashville TN. I grow, short day, intermediate day, and long day onions. I use to start seeds in the house it takes 7 weeks for plants to be large enough to move transplants to the garden when weather is 50°F. Some times I plant seeds & some times sets & this year both seeds & sets. We have very short spring weather 32° to 90° in 6 weeks. We have 15 hr days June & July. Growing seeds in the house is not my thing I hate doing it. This year I planted a 3 foot wide onion bed 35 ft long and planted 750 onion seeds, 250 red onions, 250 yellow onions, 250 walla walla onions. I hope 50% of the seeds grow. Empty onion bed spaces that don't grow will be filled in with sets March 1st. My onions do best with 0-20-20 fertilizer & 46-0-0 fertilizer. 0-20-20 contains sulfur onions need sulfur. Check your day length you probably should grow long day onions but it is best to plant variety to learn what works for you. I planted candy onions last year they were all 2" diameter and very good. I hope to grow 400 onions about 2" diameter this year. People around here growing walla walla are getting large 4" onions if we get onions that large 400 will be too may onions for us. June here rain stops it is dry as desert until Oct. If I could depend on getting 4" diameter onions 100 will be plenty. When I lived in Phoenix AZ 10 yrs ago I planted onion seed Oct 15 onions harvests was Feb 15 and garlic did good planted in Sept. Meadowlark is right learn what works for you.
 
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Onions are tricky to learn how to grow them in your area keep good notes on paper. What is your day length when warm weather temperature is 50° every day? Onions don't grow if it is too cold they set and wait for warmer weather. I live in zone 7 about 30 miles south of Nashville TN. I grow, short day, intermediate day, and long day onions. I use to start seeds in the house it takes 7 weeks for plants to be large enough to move transplants to the garden when weather is 50°F. Some times I plant seeds & some times sets & this year both seeds & sets. We have very short spring weather 32° to 90° in 6 weeks. We have 15 hr days June & July. Growing seeds in the house is not my thing I hate doing it. This year I planted a 3 foot wide onion bed 35 ft long and planted 750 onion seeds, 250 red onions, 250 yellow onions, 250 walla walla onions. I hope 50% of the seeds grow. Empty onion bed spaces that don't grow will be filled in with sets March 1st. My onions do best with 0-20-20 fertilizer & 46-0-0 fertilizer. 0-20-20 contains sulfur onions need sulfur. Check your day length you probably should grow long day onions but it is best to plant variety to learn what works for you. I planted candy onions last year they were all 2" diameter and very good. I hope to grow 400 onions about 2" diameter this year. People around here growing walla walla are getting large 4" onions if we get onions that large 400 will be too may onions for us. June here rain stops it is dry as desert until Oct. If I could depend on getting 4" diameter onions 100 will be plenty. When I lived in Phoenix AZ 10 yrs ago I planted onion seed Oct 15 onions harvests was Feb 15 and garlic did good planted in Sept. Meadowlark is right learn what works for you.
Hi and thank you all so much for all the info. In general, I am def planning on keeping better records of all my gardening this growing season. I have grown all onion variety types (long and short) I just have to find that right niche for growing them is what I believe it comes down to. Gary that number sounds amazing I would love to see your results as Meadowlark has, congrats to you! I will def share what comes out of my onion seeds this season. I am going to winterize my seeds this growing season and see how this works out for me
 
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