How to Harvest Fresh Onions

Learn how to harvest fresh onions right from the backyard garden. #Harvesting, #Gardentips

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How to Harvest Fresh Onions

I’ve been a little skeptical this gardening season because our weather has been unpredictable.  It’s still pretty early to decide how successful the garden will be so I’m trying to keep a positive attitude but also be realistic.

Which brings me to our onion harvest.

I never planned to begin harvesting until the end of June but our last visit from mother nature was pretty brutal. I had to make some quick decisions on what would be staying and what should be removed.

Fallen Onions from Rain and wind

This journey began in the quail sanctuary.

As you can see the onions took a hit and I knew they wouldn’t be very large because the soil has remained water logged far too long.  I thought they may even be rotten because I had already experienced that with some of my other plants.

Now, if these beds were higher things would grow through the worst of weather because the water would have additional drainage space.

With the present situation I decided to harvest because even small fresh onions taste pretty amazing in just about anything you’ll ever cook.  Their essential for most main dishes and if you store mature onions in the dark, with their skins attached they can last for up to 12 months.

When to Harvest Onions

During a healthy growing season, you would normally harvest onions mid-summer or for those of us further south the middle of June.  This is when the bulbs begin to increase in size and enjoy fresh from the garden.

In the later part of the summer as we approach fall, the leaves of your onion plant flop over.  This signals the actual harvest time; for some gardeners this time frame will vary depending on your planting zone.

Now as you can see, my plants are flat on the ground but this was caused from weather damage.

In a normal growing season, the stems would be dryer and mean their ready to harvest for storing.  This is what I was hoping for but sometimes you have to take things for what they are and enjoy what you have in the moment.

Pull Onions from the Ground

How to Remove Onions from the Ground

Remove onions using a hand spade, I find this to be the best tool without slicing any onions verses digging with a large shovel.

If you have a lighter soil you may be able to pull them out by hand and remove any clumps of dirt back to the soil base.

I really wasn’t sure what I’d find because honestly, I thought they would be rotten since they’ve been sitting in wet soil for months.

Fresh Onion Harvest

To my surprise even though they were small the harvest looked good enough to enjoy fresh from the garden. This was a positive sign and a reminder to count your blessings no matter what.

Sometimes it’s those small blessings that really add up to something amazing.

Harvested ready to wash up

Prepping a Fresh Onion Harvest

For fresh onions like mine prepping is pretty simple.

  • Remove green stems and wash away the soil with clean water.
  • Store in a cool place like the fridge and enjoy when you cook your next meal.

Fresh onions from the garden are amazing so make something wonderful and enjoy that flavor.


Curing Onions for Storage

If you’re lucky enough to have a mature harvest then go ahead and take those onions you pulled from the garden and let them dry in the sun on a tray for a day or two.  Do this only in dry weather.

I normally place on trays and sit on a picnic table or bench during the day, then bring indoors at night.

The point of this is to allow the onions to dry out prior to storing.  If it’s wet outdoors then let them dry in a garage or covered porch.

  • You’ll want to lay them in single layers on trays and place in 70 to 80-degree weather, we call this the curing process.
  • Their necks will dry out and the skins will tighten.
  • Then remove the stems and roots with scissors.
  • Combine dry onions into a mesh bag or crate ready for storage.

Cured onions can be stored in a shed, ideal temperatures would be 35 – 40 degrees. If it gets colder where you live then the basement or pantry might be a better option adn don’t forget they’ll last up to a year.

Harvesting onions is probably one of the easiest things to do because it doesn’t take that much time.  But if truth be told I really enjoy eating them fresh from the garden because the flavor is just a little richer.

To get tips on planting onions read here. 



How to Harvest Fresh Onions

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  1. I never have good luck getting my onions to bulb really big. The bulbs are so-so in size, but not worth the effort since we eat so many onions. I have better luck with garlic.

    One thing I do is to plant the green onion tops after I’ve used the onion. They always grow and I get a regular supply of new green onions–if I can remember to put them in the ground. LOL!

    1. Carole says:

      I was pretty disgusted with this harvest so I took all the remains and tossed them in a new bed I’m prepping for fall. I think my attention would be better focused on garlic, our weather has been really horrible and we definately get more rain over this way. That has perks but not when it shows up every week for over six months.

  2. daisy says:

    A friend gave me some Egyptian walking onions, so I’m trying those for the first time. Yours look small, so they are probably really tender, good eatin’! Hope you get a dose of sunshine soon to soak up all that water!

    1. Carole says:

      Mine are small, never planned to harvest so early but the weather slammed this batch. Looks like maybe next week we may get a break from the rain. Robert is counting on things drying up by the end of the month. I’m just taking things one day at a time.

  3. Charlene Dryman says:

    I give up on onions. I try every year and mine don’t get any bigger than yours. I even order from the onion man in West Texas. They may grow big for him, but it doesn’t work here on the coast. I will continue to buy mine at Sams Club.

    1. Carole says:

      I’ve been pretty frustrated this year and to be honest I really was surprised they weren’t rotten when I went to dig them up. I’m not sure I will grow them again next year I may turn that effort over to garlic.

  4. laura says:

    Hi Carole,
    Great suggestions! This sounds like an easy one for me! laura

    1. Carole says:

      You’ve got this – Your gardening season is much shorter than mine but I know you can figure out where to put your energy.

  5. Patti says:

    I’ve never grown onions but often buy them at the farmers market. So much better than the grocery store but that’s probably true for all farm grown produce.

    You make me want to try growing them. Maybe one day.

    1. Carole says:

      They are better when home grown and should be the same at the market if they were organic grown. I think one of these seasons you should do just one small raised bed and grow like three veggies in it. Just see if you enjoy it. I think you would because there is something exciting about growing your own food. Kind of takes you back to that kid feeling inside.

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