How to Grow Onions from Sets

by on January 9, 2012


So you want to grow onions at home in your urban garden setting. The good news is that the onion is among the easiest of all vegetables to grow and because they are so versatile, there’s almost nowhere that you can’t grow onions.From the flower bed to a raised bed and even containers on the balcony, your urban garden needs to say YES to growing onions and the best part is that everything you need to know is right here!
Temp Range: 65 – 85 degrees F
Seed to Plate: 75 from sets
Light Needs: min. 4-6 hours of full sun, partial shade per day
How Much to Grow Per Person: 5-6 onions per person for average consumption
Average Space Needs: 9  onions / 1 Square Foot
Water Needs: moist, well drained soil
Soil pH: slightly acid, 6.0 – 7.5


Onion sets are easy to plant because they are much larger than seeds and more easily handled. They look like tiny onion bulbs because that is exactly what they are! They are onions that have been grown in overcrowded conditions for a season so that they never get very big, and are then dried and planted again later for bigger onions faster than you could get them from seed. Onion sets from lots of varieties are available at your local garden center and at many hardware and home improvement stores.

When you can get out and work the soil outdoors, be sure your chosen planting area is prepared with good quality, loose soil.

Press onion sets into the soil 3-4” apart and just deep enough to allow you to cover them with soil loosely. Water them well and keep the soil moist.

Harvesting Onions

Onion sets will generally be ready to pick in about 75 days, when about half of the leaves have fallen over and begun to wilt. To harvest them, first lay the remaining upright leaves down against the soil without breaking them. Allow the onions to remain in the ground for a few more days before gently digging them and shaking off the soil. To store the onions, first allow them to cure a bit so that the outer skin develops that familiar paper-like consistency and the neck shrivels.

TIP: The size of onion bulbs can be judged based on the size and length of the leaves.

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