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My uncle use to grow great big onions, the hamburger slab size. But he's passed away two years, before I got started in the garden stuff. This years onions were decent sized, but I would like to get some of the bigger size. We think he use to stomp on the onion stems, but not sure if that is the key. They were always big by the 4th of July. Does anybody have any opinions on this? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
 

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I did red onions last year, came out fantastic. They held all winter in our basement at 55 deg. I have LOTS of them this year and sweet white ones. I heard that you have to wait until the stems turn yellow and wilt before picking. Then they are ready. I didnt do that last year, got too impatient.
 

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Growing big onions isn't difficult, but like everything else in the garden, they have to be grown properly. The first thing you need to do is select a variety that is good for your area. In Kansas, long day varieties will do best. Try growing Mars Red, Sweet Yellow Spanish, Ailsa Craig, Super Star, or Walla Walla.

Fertile soil that drains well is prefered. Soil that stays wet for long periods of time will cause your bulbs to rot. A small amount of 12-12-12 mixed in will give them a good start. As they begin to bulb a light application of nitrogen banded a few inches away will really kick them into high gear.

Your best bet for growing large onions is to grow from plants. Don't confuse onion plants with onion sets. Onion plants are very thin, smaller than a pencil and have green tops.

I plant my onions in mid April/early May. While they can be planted earlier, you run the risk of the plants bolting (putting on seed heads) because they are fooled into thinking they are second year plants. Onions seed in their second year, so if they are exposed to cold weather (a very hard frost or light freeze) they may think winter has come and and they are now in the second year. Onion sets are more likely to be fooled this way because they have already gone dormant and are just waiting for that cold spell to begin their second year. Onion plants are still alive and thus are less likely to be tricked.

When planting onion plants, I like to plant them fairly deep, about an inch or two. I know, most people will disagree with that, but there is a reason. If planted too shallow, they will fall over every time it rains. As the bulbs begin to form, I start "brushing" them. As I am weeding, I gently brush dirt away from the bulbs, slowly exposing more and more of it as the season progresses. I never expose more than half of the bulb until they are half-dollar size or so. By the end of the season, the only part of the plant still in the ground is the roots and maybe 20% of the bulb. It's like they are sitting n little indents in the ground.

Since onions are shallow rooted, they have to be watered very often, daily if it's really hot or dry.

Eventually, the tops will fall over on their own. When they do, I like to pull the onion and leave it lay in the garden for a day or two (if it isn't going to rain). You can also lay them in a carport or porch if wet weather is coming. After a couple of days I cut the roots as close to the bulb as possible and remove the tops. Then let them cure a few more days until the top wound has dried and tightened up. And there you go. Just remember that some varieties keep better than others. Also, onions with very thick necks will not store for long, so use them first.

Finaly, don't store your onions near potatoes. They both emit gasses that will cause each other to rot.

More information and some pics of my onions from last year can be found here: http://www.mytractorforum.com/showthread.php?t=88936
 
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