Close-up of the flowers at the tip of the onion greensFlowering Onion (click for a close-up)

We’ve never had much luck growing onions or other root crops.

In Morris, our soil was too heavy, and root crops were leafy at best. We ate a lot of beet greens, actually! When we moved to the “Great Anoka Sand Plain,” I was excited to see how our carrots, onions, and potatoes would turn out.

Last year, we had an incredible amount of huge turnips – here’s a great (and sad) photo of our Golden Nigel, that shows how big they got:

Nigel eating a turnip - 2009 photo

Nigel loved turnips… and Puck, our boxer, has just discovered where they are growing in the garden again this year. Uh oh ….

But we didn’t have the greatest soil last summer – my pickup truck died 7 hauls into deliveries from the Free Compost Site in our county, and our carrots, onions, and beets didn’t amount to much. We ended up leaving most of them in the ground actually – and after working 20 cubic yards of compost into the soil this spring, onions started coming up everywhere! And they are HUGE!

I planted new onions this year too, and the bulbs are already larger than they were in August last year.

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4 Responses

  1. Thanks for posting this with detailed info. We planted both onions & garlic last year, and although our harvest was meager, we have had one onion plant come up this year & it has a beautiful bloom like the one you show here. If you look up my page on facebook you can see a pic of it there. We tried identifying it online, but saw the same bloom identified as both onion and garlic… glad to know an onion came out for yours!
    Happy Gardening to you!

  2. Hi Kathi,

    Alliums are biennials, so the first year they bulb (to produce onions or garlic). If you don’t harvest them, the second year they will flower and go to seed. I don’t think you can eat the root the second year. Actually both onion and garlic have similar flowers, so yours could have been either!

    This year I transplanted the missed onions from 2010 along the back of my flower garden; they are just now producing flowers, and should be open in a few days.

  3. rose


    My first time growing onions. They are now just a bulb and flowers have not bloomed. I want to harvest the seed, I’m confused on what I need to do!!! First time for everything I suppose.

  4. Hi Rose! Thanks for the comment.

    I’ve never saved the seeds from our onion flowers before, but they certainly do go to seed after flowering! I thought about saving seeds last year, but we have just been purchasing onion plants (not sets), as we have the best luck with those.

    What zone are you in? Here in zone 4, onion sets won’t flower the first year. So, we just leave them in the ground over winter. The next spring they will be one of the first things to turn green in the garden, and by mid-June they are starting to flower. If you just leave the flowers alone, eventually they will dry up and produce seeds. You may want to put a mesh covering or sock over them once they are done flowering – the onion seeds are tiny, and will blow away in the wind. Each flower produces a seed, so there are hundreds of seeds on each onion flower.

    Good luck! I would be interested to hear how seed harvesting goes for you – though it will probably be a few years before you can report back on that 🙂

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