Is it Better to Grow Onions from Seeds or Sets up North?

“Is it better to grow onions from seeds or from sets in my zone?” Question from Karen of Randolph, Vermont

Answer: Really it depends on how much money you want to spend and how long you want to wait for an onion crop. It is less expensive to grow onions from seed, but you have to start them very early to get a crop, especially when you have a shorter summer. It also depends on the type of onion you are growing. I would recommend growing spring/bunching onions and leeks from seed in your zone, but I would rely on onion sets for robust summer and fall onions.

Northern gardeners like you should also choose day-neutral or long-day onions. Both are sure to reliably produce a good crop up north. Try the day-neutral AAS-winning ‘Sierra Blanca’ or long-day ‘Redwing’ for great results. For bunching onions try the purple buncher, ‘Deep Purple’.

Onions grow best in loose, friable soil, so amend your soil with quality compost, like OMRI Listed Black Gold Garden Compost Blend, before planting. Fertilizing with bone meal will also help your onions along. If starting seeds, check out Black Gold Seedling Mix, which is also approved for organic gardening.

Happy gardening!

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist

Black Gold® Seedling Mix, A Professional Mix for Home Growers

BG-Seedling-1.5cuBlack Gold® Seedling Mix is the perfect medium for germinating seeds and propagating cuttings, and the formula is the same blend used by professional greenhouse growers. Our mix is designed to promote better root development in young plants and holds water well due to the addition of an organic wetting agent. Moreover, it is OMRI Listed®, which means it is approved for organic gardening.

We start with fine, screened Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss  and fine perlite and vermiculite to give seedlings and cuttings the aeration and moisture retention they need to develop good root systems. An organic wetting agent ensures rapid water penetration, and the fine texture allows growers to germinate even the smallest seeds while also encouraging excellent rooting. Transplanting seedlings and cuttings with strong root systems grown in Black Gold® Seedling Mix is a breeze!

When it comes to germinating seeds, it’s simple working with this ready-to-use product. All you need is water, light, warm temperatures, and Black Gold® Seedling Mix.

Different seeds require different temperatures for best germination—some requiring cool temperatures and others warm. In general, seeds should be kept at temperatures between 60 and 70 degrees F and placed in bright light provided by grow lights or a window with a southern exposure. Some seeds need to be covered with mix to germinate and some require light to germinate and should be sprinkled on the surface of the mix, so be sure to check seed packets for details.

After planting, make sure the growing media stays moist, but not wet, and seeds and/or cuttings have plenty of water in the early stages of germination and rooting. Our seedling mix is designed with both peat moss and vermiculite, essential ingredients when you want to retain just the right amounts of moisture in your soil.

6-packsBlack Gold® Seedling Mix is made with the same ingredients we use to make our seedling/propagation mixes for professional greenhouse growers. Germinating your own seeds or rooting your own cuttings is a rewarding experience and one of the great delights of gardening. So, when you are faced with the question, “Why buy a premium seedling mix?” the answer is clear. Black Gold® Seedling Mix is high-performing and results in robust seedlings and cuttings. Why trust your seeds to anything else?

More seed-starting articles:

Bottom Heat for Happy Seed Starting

Seed Starting Tutorial: Part 1 of 6

Starting Seeds Indoors

Starting Perennials from Seed

Grow Free Bedding Plants with Cuttings

5-Step Vegetable Garden Planning

6 packs
It pays to save six-pack containers from store-bought plants to sow your own seeds. Just be sure to wash the packs before reuse.

The quiet of the January new year is the ideal time to start vegetable garden planning.  This is the month of contemplation when you begin to conjure up next year’s crop in all its glorious diversity.  Whether it’s just an Earth box or a huge family plot, all vegetable gardens start the same way.  Success requires early organization, the ability to assemble exactly what you need, and the ability to time it all to perfection.  In fact, it’s much like planning a holiday meal with a half dozen different dishes that all need to be ready at the same time.  You need to make lists, shop for all the ingredients, and strategize your space in the oven and stove before bringing everything to the table.
Continue reading “5-Step Vegetable Garden Planning”