Baby Step 15: Grow Your Own Set Onions

At HOMESTEADING Downsized, our family cooks and eats a lot of onions throughout the year. We love green onions in omelettes, salads, soups and sandwiches. We devour big,  sweet onion slices on burgers, sautéed with steaks or simmered  in soups, stews, and pot roasts.

We love onions so much we have turned our 1/4 acre suburban, HOA controlled homestead into an onion field. However, because growing space is an issue we’ve introduced our onions as decorative landscaping throughout our yard.  We plant both onion seeds and set onions in groupings all around the yard. We harvest green onions from the seeds we plant saving the large onions from the sets for harvest; drying them for winter use.

We took another baby step to life’s independence by learning how to grow  set onions.   Here is how we do it:

We recycle used 3 inch deep foam product trays.  These containers work well because they are the perfect size for a sunny windowsill. Simply poke a few holes through the bottom with a pencil for drainage then stack on top of another without holes for a drip pan. Next, fill the container 3/4 full with a seed starter plant mix. Within a 6 inch x 6 inch grid evenly plant approximately 50 onion seeds on top of the soil. Cover seeds with 1/8 inch soil. Spray soil (with mister) with a plant food/water mix until container begins to drain. Slide planter into a quart size plastic bag (do not close) and place on a sunny windowsill. Keep the soil moist removing the bag when seedlings emerge.

When the seedling greens reach 4 inches take a scissors and trim the onion tops to 3 inches. Continue watering and trimming tops back to 3 inches until you are ready to plant set onions in the garden.

Before planting it is best to harden or slowly condition your onion sets for outdoors a week before planting. Place your onion sets outside in the shade each day . Leave them outside progressively longer until planting day.

On planting day soak your onion sets in clean water to remove soil and untangle the seedlings without damage to their roots. Plant in your garden and enjoy.

Growing onions is easy. Start them early and enjoy them year-round.

Take another baby step and grow your own set onions from seeds.

Thank you for sharing – Jabbear



  1. What varieties of onion do you plant? I bought sets a few years back from Kings but they only grew to about 1.5 – 2″. I would love to grow bigger ones.

    • Hi Amie – Thanks for your comment. We grow 3 sets: Red Candy onion (hybrid) a large, sweet purple onion pretty in salads and tacos. Walla Walla Sweet onion – similar to the sweet, yellow Vidalia onion (better adapted for our cooler, shorter summers). We also set American Flag Leeks (plant thinner than set onions). We found the trick is onions adore loamy to sandy-loamy soil and lots of water (makes them big and sweet) and good drainage.

    • Thanks for taking time to comment. I found that cutting the tops focuses the growth energy into the roots and onion bulb speeding up the bulb growth. I visited you today. Left a comment and am now a follower. Great stuff – Thanks!

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