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Old 02-21-2011, 09:22 AM   #1
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Default Need to transplant onion seedlings?

I'm starting a few flats of onions indoors right now. I started them in a seed starting mix in six-packs. It's been a few weeks now and the roots are growing out the bottom of the cells. Do I need to repot them into something bigger, or can I just let them do their thing in these small cells? I'm hoping not to have to transplant them because I have a lot.
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Old 02-22-2011, 09:18 AM   #2
Dick Shannon
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Hello Espring,

I plant my onion seeds in little paper pots that are about 3-1/2 inches deep by 2-1/4 inches round. I planted 200 red onions yesterday, today I hope to do 100 yellow.

Aside from the wisdom (or lack of wisdom) of my method, I will keep mine in the same pots for about 7 or 8 weeks then I will transplant them into the garden paper and all. By that time they will have several roots growing out of the pots. Not "lots" of roots, but several. They do fine once I transplant them. This is the third year I have done it this way.

So you might decide whether or not to transplant them based on "how deep" is the soil in the little pots now? What is the potting soil? Did you add fertilizer, or is it a mix with fertilizer built in?

The roots are looking for water and nutrients. You don't want to overwater, and don't want too much nutrients, or I think they will definitely outgrow the six-packs.

In my opinion -- best conditions for growing onions & leeks from seed is the deepest potting soil you can provide. I don't think you will regret it if you do transplant them into something deeper, and if you do need to transplant them, the sooner the better, so you don't tear off roots in the process.

I trim my onions 2 or 3 times before they go outside. I let them get to 5 or 6 inches tall, then trim them back to 3 inches, and use the trimmings in a salad.

Good luck.
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Old 02-22-2011, 02:57 PM   #3
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I have been growing onions from seed for about 5 years .. in the past I would order seedlings .. then, out of frustration that my favorite varieties would not be available as seedlings. I can't get my onion seedling to grow very large before I transplant .. but even tiny transplant grow into good size bulbs. I shake a 1/16 oz bag of seeds into a 2x4 feet flats with about one inch of starting mix + compost. I have 10 flats going .. about 3000 seedlings ... would not be able to have them growing in single paper pots ... but great idea Dick to trim them for salads ... I'll try that this year. cheers, Curzio
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Old 04-20-2011, 06:40 PM   #4
Dick Shannon
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Okay Curzio, that's a lot of onions,

If I were growing 3000 onions I would definitely not roll up little paper pots; I would use your method.

Please tell us about how you use and especially how you store your onions? Have you successfully re-planted second year bulbs to grow your own seed?

I'm really hoping to come up with a good storage method for onions that I want to eat, but for growing seeds I am also going to try leaving them in the ground with LOTS of mulch. In addition to maybe killing them with low temperatures, will I have to worry about voles or mice eating the bulbs?
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Old 04-21-2011, 07:17 AM   #5
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Onions need cold DRY storage - storing them under mulch is the perfect way to make them rot. The onions are ready for harvest in late July - early August here. Leaving them in the ground until cold weather sets in is not recommended as quality will deteriorate with exposure to fall rains. Harvest them when they're mature and get them dried down before storage. The rodents are a non-issue compared to the environmental conditions IMO.
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Old 04-21-2011, 10:10 AM   #6
Dick Shannon
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Hello Walk,

The onions I've been growing are not ready until mid to late September. When I said mulch them in the garden I was thinking of the way nature keeps them over for the second year flower and seed growing stage.

Once I lost some onions due to lack of weeding that particular patch, and next year they came back strong, having had the protection of some weeds and grass plus any leaves that settled around them.

So maybe I should be thinking in terms of a "little" mulch, not a lot. They will be in raised beds which also helps them not be too wet. It's just that I don't have a root cellar, or any cellar. This past winter I asked a neighbor if I could store some bags of onions in his cellar which was probably warmer than optimum. We were able to keep onions for eating but a lot of my seed onions sprouted.

I appreciate your feedback because I'm certain you've had a lot more experience than me.

wishing you all the best,
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