Anne of Green Gardens

When Should I Harvest Onions?

photo by Anne

Onion stems starting to brown

Rosenda M. from Grayson, CA writes:

Anne,  I have a question for you.  I planted onions and now I have to harvest them.  I don’t know how.  Do I wait until the green stems brown?  When do I stop watering the onions?  Hopefully you can help me out on this?

Hi Rosenda, thanks for your question! Onions are usually ready in late spring (in CA) to mid summer, depending on where you live. The best way to water onions (or any crop for that matter) is to “deep” water. This means flood the area with water slowly for 20-30 minutes and then do not water again until the soil feels somewhat dry. Dig an inch or so below the soil to check. When the onions are ready, the stems will begin to turn brown. Once that happens, stop watering and wait. Harvest when entire green stems turn brown. Then gently dig up the onions and brush off any dirt. Place them in a cool, dry place for about 2 weeks to “cure” them. Then braid them together and voila! you’ll have onions for months. Of course, you can also use them fresh right out of the garden anytime while you are waiting.

Onion bloom

Another question you may have about onions is “WHY do onion plants bloom?” Onions can be planted from seed, bulb sets or bundles of green transplants. When using bulbs, divide your purchase into two groups, 1 group of bulbs larger than the size of a dime, and those smaller. Plant the large bulbs together and plan to use them as green onions. Larger bulbs tend to “bolt” which means they flower and begin to form seed. Once this happens, the energy from the bulb goes into making flowers so you may as well harvest it.

Information on bolting taken from Univeristy of Illinois Watch Your Garden Grow at:



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