Onion, Garlic & Shallots

Onions, Garlic, and Shallots


LIGHT: sunny, (green onions tolerate partial shade)

SOIL: well-drained loam pH: 5.5-7.0

TEMPERATURE: cool (45-60 degrees F) during development; medium hot (60-75 degrees F) during bulbing and curing.

MOISTURE: moist, but not waterlogged

CULTURE PLANTING: Use sets, seeds or transplants in spring for bulbs and for green or bunching onions. Seeds may be started indoors eight weeks before setting out.

SPACING standard 1-6” x 12-24”; wide row 4”x4” in rows up to 2 feet wide. Plant close, then thin using thinnings as green onions.

HARDINESS: bulb onions, hardy biennial; green or bunching, multiplier.

FERTILIZER NEEDS: Apply 3 lbs. 10-10-10/100 sq. ft. before planting, use starter solution for transplants, and sidedress 4-6 weeks after planting with 2lbs 10-10-10 per 100 sq. ft. (repeat 4 -6 weeks later if needed).

CULTURAL PRACTICES: Onions are often grouped according to taste. The two main types of onions are strong-flavored (American) and mild (often called European). Each has three distinct colors – yellow, white, and red.

In general, the American onions produce bulbs of smaller size, denser texture, stronger flavor, and better keeping quality than European onions. Onion varieties have different requirements as to the number of hours of daylight required to make a bulb.

Seedlings or sets of long day varieties set out in April/May will produce a harvest in August. For scallions or green or bunching onions, use sets, seeds, or transplants of standard onions for spring: plant seeds of bunching varieties for summer scallions.

For bulb productions, plant sets or transplants in early spring. Set one to two inches apart and one to two inches deep in the row. Thin to four inches apart and eat the thinned plants as green onions. Avoid sets more than an inch in diameter as they are likely to produce seed stalks. Too early planting and exposure to cold temperatures also causes seed stalk development. Some people have best bulb production using seedlings for transplants rather than sets.

Plant four inches apart in rows one to two feet apart. Distance between rows is determined by available space and cultivating equipment. Bulbs complete poorly with weeds due to shallow root systems. Shallow cultivation is necessary; do not hill up soil on onions as this can encourage stem rot. Insure ample moisture, especially after bulbs begin enlarging.

Onions should be harvested when about two-thirds of the tops have fallen over. Careful handling to avoid bruising helps control storage rots. Onions may be pulled and left in the field for several days to dry and then cured in a well-ventilated attic or porch for one to tow weeks out of direct sun. Tops may be left on; if cut off, leave at least one inch of the top when storing. Thorough curing will increase storage life.


DISEASES: neck or stem rot, bulb rot

INSECTS: thrips, onion root maggots

CULTURAL: bulb rot from bruising, insufficient drying; split or double bulb from dry soil during bulb formation; very small bulb from too late planting, too dry soil, or planting short day varieties in summer.


DAYS TO MATURITY: 100-120 (Mature bulbs)

HARVEST: Harvest green onions when tops are 6 inches tall; bulbs after 2/3 or more of the tops have fallen over. Do not wait more than 1-2 weeks after this occurs. Allow for thorough drying before storage.

APPROXIMATE YIELDS: 10-15 lbs. (per 10 feet of row)


STORAGE: cool (32 degrees F), dry (65-70% RH) conditions; 6-7 months

PRESERVATION: Onions may be stored dry or pickled and canned. They freeze well if chopped and covered with water. For fresh storage, maintain good air circulation. One effective storage method is to place onion in discarded hose, tie a knot and add other onions. When hose is filled, suspend from rafters in storage area.


LIGHT: sunny, (will tolerate partial shade)

SOIL: well-drained loam, moderate organic matter

PH: 5.5 – 7.0

TEMPERATURES: cool 45-60 degrees F) during early development, medium hot (60-75 degrees F) during bulbing

MOISTURE: moist, but not waterlogged

CULTURE PLANTING: Use cloves which are divisions of the mature bulb. Divide just before planting. Plant early in spring in well-drained soils or in fall and mulch well. Young plants are frost tolerant.

SPACING: standard 3-5” x 12-24” (cover to a depth of 1”); wide row 3x4” in rows 12” apart

HARDINESS: hardy perennial, grown as an annual

FERTILIZER NEEDS: add 3-4 lbs. of 10-10-10 per 100sq. feet when preparing soil; side dress one to two weeks after bulb enlargement begins with 2 lbs of 10-10-10 over 100 sq feet.

CULTURAL PRACTICES: Garlic, a member of the onion family, may be grown successfully in most Moncton area home gardens. There are early (white or Mexican) cultivars and late (pink or Italian) cultivars. The early cultivar does not store well and has poorer quality, but out-yields the later type. Garlic must be planted early in Moncton (April or early May) to permit full development. Fall preparation of the soil is desirable so the soil can be fertilized and planted with minimum tillage in the spring.

Garlic is started by planting cloves that are divisions of the large bulb. Each bulb contains a dozen or more cloves; each clove is planted separately. The larger cloves yield larger size mature bulbs at harvest. Do not divide the bulb until ready to plant; early separation decreases yields. Select “seed bulbs” that are large, smooth, fresh, and free from disease. Plant the cloves 3-5” apart in an upright position (to assure a straight neck), and cover them to a depth of about 1 inch. Allow 12-24” between rows. Garlic also lends itself well to a wide row system of planting, spacing cloves 3-4 inches apart in rows a foot wide. This requires considerably less garden space for the same yield.

Garlic grows best on well-drained garden loam soils that are fertile and high in organic matter. Gardeners who grow good onion crops can grow garlic. Garlic does well at high fertilizer levels. When preparing soil for planting, apply 3-4 lbs. or 10-10-10 fertilizer per 100 square feet. Bulbs will be small if the soil is excessively dry, and irregular in shape if the soil becomes compacted.

Harvest bulbs when the tops start to dry, usually in August. Place in trays with screens or slatted bottoms, and remove tops when dry. Mature bulbs are best stored under cool, dry conditions.


DISEASES: bulb rot in poorly drained soils

INSECTS: thrips, root maggots

CUTURAL: bulb rot (from bruising, insufficient drying)


LIGHT: sunny

SOIL: well-drained, sandy loam pH: 5.0-6.8

TEMPERATURE: cool (55-75 degrees F)

MOISTURE: moist, but not wet

CULTURE PLANTING: Plant individual sets 1-2” deep in early spring. In warmer climates plant in fall for winter and spring harvest.

SPACING: standard 4-6” x 12-18” or in double rows

HARDINESS: hardy perennial

FERTILIZER NEEDS: Mix 3 lbs 10-10-10 per 100 sq. feet into soil before planting; side-dress with 2 lbs 10-10-10/100 sq. feet twice during growing season.

CULTURAL PRACTICES: Shallots like a rich, loose soil; mix plenty of compost, decomposed manure or other organic matter into bed before planting. If shallots for planting are sold in clumps, divide into individual sets (bulbs) before planting. Plant as soon as soil can be worked in spring. Plant with pointed tip up; tip should be just below soil line or barely poking through. Mulch or cultivate to keep weeds from competing for moisture.

Shallot roots are shallow so cultivation must be carried out with care. Shallot bulbs develop on top of the ground. Do not cover with soil. Shallots have a mild flavor prized by gourmets, and are used in the green onion stage or as bulbs.

Pull green shallots when they are about ¼” in diameter and store in a cold, moist place for short periods. Mature, dry bulbs are dug after the tops die back, usually in mid-to late summer. Cure in a warm, dry place for about a week. Store in mesh bags in cool, dry conditions.

Replant the smaller bulbs or use them first since they do not keep well.


DISEASES: downy mildew, bacterial soft rot, neck rot

INSECTS: onion maggot, onion thrips

CULTURAL: bulb rot from bruising or planting too deeply; tip-burn from ozone (air pollutant)


DAYS TO MATURITY: 60-75 days

HARVEST: Harvest as green onions when tops are 6-8” high (about 6 weeks after planting). Side shoots also have little white “button” onions at their base which may be mixed with vegetables, casseroles, etc.

Harvest mature bulbs when tops have turned yellow and bulbs are 1” – 1 ½ “ in diameter. Cut off tops and cure.

APPROXIMATE YIELDS: 10-20 shallots per bulb planted: 4-8 lbs per 10-foot row.


STORAGE: cool, dry area (32-40 degrees F, 60-70% RH); 6 months or longer.

PRESERVATION: Store dry or freeze by chopping and covering with water.

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