Garden Help Desk: How do I know my onions are ready to harvest? | News, sports, jobs

Courtesy photo

The onions can be harvested and eaten as soon as they appear in large enough quantities, but the plants need time to mature to store onions. Wait until you see more than a few onion tops fall off and you’ll have onions that can be stored well into the winter or beyond.

Is it time to harvest my onions? The tops on my plants are starting to fall off.

It looks like your onions could use another week or so in the garden before harvesting. Once you see 50-60% of the tops fall off, you can start harvesting your onions and curing them for storage. If you are growing more than one variety, you may find that one variety is ready to harvest days or even weeks before another variety.

After you decide that your onions are close to harvest, reduce their water. Do not cut off the green top when you are ready to harvest. It’s best if you don’t just pull the onion because this will damage the leaves on the onion neck and provide an entry point for fungi and bacteria that cause rotting during storage. Instead of pulling by hand, carefully lift the onion with a fork, or if you don’t have a fork, with a shovel. Avoid damaging the bulbs when removing the onion.

You can leave your onions on the soil in the garden, when the ends are dry, but you must make sure that the green top will shade the bulbs to prevent sunburn that can damage the outer layer.

If you don’t have enough tops to protect the bulbs on your onions, or if you don’t want to leave your onions to dry in the garden, you can bring them to a shaded area with good air circulation while they dry.

Courtesy Meredith Seaver

Each type of onion ripens on its own schedule. These varieties of onions are planted at the same time. The onions on the left are ready to harvest, but the variety on the right needs more time to ripen.

If your onions are ready to harvest but you don’t have time to go into the garden, you can leave the onions in the ground after they fall off the top, but you have to stop watering them so they don’t start. Regrowth then just pick the onions and let them finish drying when you can.

Whichever option you choose to dry your onions, make sure it is protected from rain and splash water, especially if you are harvesting later in the growing season. Drying time is a very important step because the green ends on your onions need to be completely dry before you can cut or break them into pieces. Once the tops are completely dry, you can remove them and clean up any loose dirt, but do not remove the paper coverings on the outside of the onions. Those layers serve as a natural wrapping to preserve the storage life of the onion. You can trim off the dried roots on your onions if you want, but it’s not necessary.

Store your onions in plastic bags or well-ventilated boxes. They do not need to be kept in the dark, but a cool and dry place will give the onion quality and a long storage time. They can take a light frost, but be careful about keeping them in an uncovered shed or garage during the winter, as temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit can damage the bulbs.

This year I started my first cut flower garden. The flowers seem to fade faster than I expected after I put them in and put them in the vases. What can I do to make them look good for more than a day or two?

Mowing gardens require constant care and attention, so you definitely want to get the most out of your efforts. Here are some tips.

Courtesy photo

There are many excellent cut flowers in our local gardens. With good care and best harvesting practices, cut flowers will stay fresh and beautiful for many days.

Cut your flower in the morning when the temperature is cool. Using sharp scissors or clippers, cut young, fresh flowers off the longest stems possible and immediately place them in the bucket of cold water that you carry with you whenever you collect the flowers.

Before you arrange your flowers in a vase, quickly bring your cut flowers indoors and let them cool down in a cool place out of direct sunlight.

Cutting the stems while the ends are submerged in water helps to preserve their quality, especially for stems that are crushed or damaged during cutting.

Change the water in your vase and cut the stem every few days.

Give bought flowers the same care – buy them early if you can, get them home quickly so you can get them off the car before running other errands if you can. If the flowers are not already ready, cut the stems and keep the water clean.


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