The Great Onion Attack of 2015

Before you plant 10 bajillion onions, make sure you have the right variety.

by Cyn Cady

The Great Onion Attack of 2015 - Photo by Cyn Cady ( 

OK, so I always expect a few epic fails when I plant the garden. But this time, it was kind of a double whammy. Or a cent-a-whammy. Or whatever you call it when you end up with about a hundred healthy, happy onion plants that aren’t bulbing. Instead, they’re bolting and putting out flowers.

Either there are several huge vats of French onion soup in my near future, or I am going to be the proud owner of a big pile of soggy onions. All the info I found online about storing onions only addresses those neat, round bulbs like the good onion farmers seem to be able to get without even thinking about it.

The Great Onion Attack of 2015 - Photo by Cyn Cady ( 

Here’s where I blew it six ways to Sunday:

  1. I probably planted them too close together and didn’t thin enough. I did pull a lot, and used the early spring onions in salads and soups, but apparently, I wasn’t aggressive enough.
  2. I didn’t pay attention to the type of onion sets I bought. There are short-day varieties that should be planted in the fall (that’s when I planted) and long-day/intermediate-day varieties that should be planted in the spring. Seems there’s an invisible line that divides the short- and long-day planting areas, running horizontally through San Francisco. North of the invisible line, use long day; south of it, use short day. Near it, try an intermediate variety. If you’re right on the line, make sure to stop by North Beach for a cappuccino.
  3. I may have planted them too deep. Several interwebbers report that they just push the onion sets about halfway down into the dirt, so all that pesky soil doesn’t interfere with the bulbing process.
  4. The weather this winter went from warm to cold and back to warm about 40 dozen times. This may have messed with the onions’ internal clocks. I can’t really take the blame for this one, but it definitely could be a factor.
  5. I planted much too late for a fall planting. I should have done it before October, but the warm fall fooled me, and I didn’t get my fall planting mindset on until November.
  6. I planted waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many onions. Seriously. I had visions of storing them in the basement, and never buying store onions again, but the combination of issues 1 to 5, above, really made this a bad idea. Note to self: do your onion research before taking up half your fall garden space with the wrong kind of onions.

The Great Onion Attack of 2015 - Photo by Cyn Cady ( 

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What the heck am I gonna do with these? I’ll try to cure as many as I can, but it seems a dim, faint hope that they will tighten up enough for months of storage. Looks like my future holds a lot of chutneys and caramelization and onion gratin, oh my! French onion soup, anyone?

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