How to Harvest and Store Onions

When are onions ready to harvest? Where do you store onions?

September 3, 2020

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Harvest onions when their tops begin to turn yellow and fall over. Then onions need to be ‘cured’, or dried, to store through winter without rotting. In a few easy steps, our article (with video) will explain how to harvest and prepare your bulbs for storage. We’ll also tell you how to make an onion string!

Harvesting Onions

When harvesting onions, there is no perfect size, just pull when they are big enough to suit you. You can eat fresh onions immediately.

For storage however, wait until the bulbs grow and mature. The tops will flop over and start to go brown at the edges. Leave them for a week, then carefully dig them up using a fork. Spread out the bulbs on the soil surface, or on a wire rack for better ventilation, and let them dry in the sun for one more week. If the weather is wet dry them under cover instead, for instance in a well-ventilated greenhouse or tunnel. Handle onions with care to prevent bruising.

How to Cure Onions 

Onions need to be ‘cured’, or dried, to prepare them for storing. You can dry onions on racks or on layers of newspaper in a well-ventilated greenhouse, hoop house or cold frame.

  • Spread the onions out as much as possible. When the skins have become papery, the leaves are totally shriveled up, and the roots are dry and wiry, they are ready to store. This can take up to two weeks.
  • Now cut off the roots and rub off any loose skins.
  • Cut the stems off just above the bulbs, or if you want to store your bulbs as onion strings cut the stems two to three inches above the neck of the bulb.

How to Store Onions

Store onions somewhere cool, dry, well-ventilated, and out of direct sunlight, for instance in a garage or unheated room. Don’t store any bulbs that are soft or have thick necks – use these fresh as soon as possible instead.

You can store onions in purpose-sold vegetable storage nets, or in netting sacks that have been previously used to hold, for example, oranges. The nets should be hung up off the ground. Check them from time to time and remove any onions that show signs of mold or rot.

How to Make an Onion String

  1. Cut a length of string to about three to four feet long.
  2. Tie the two ends together to make a loop.
  3. Hang the loop of string from a hook.
  4. Insert the first onion through the center of the loop.
  5. Bend the stem around the back of the string to return it through the loop.
  6. Push the onion to the bottom of the loop.
  7. Repeat with each additional onion in exactly the same way, pushing it down to lay snugly against the previous onion.
  8. Rotate the position of each additional onion so they sit neatly in a spiral.
  9. Hang your onion string somewhere cool and dry.

View the video above for the demonstration!

Also, if this video has whetted your appetite for gardening, come play with our Almanac Garden Planner. We offer a free 7-day trial to give you plenty of time to create a garden and see if you like it.

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