Thursday, February 25, 2010

Question of the Day - To Trim or Not to Trim

onions
Presently, my Red of Florence scallions and Red Amposta onions are over 4 inches tall and are beginning to flop over a bit. Since I've never grown onions from seeds before, I thought I'd ask those of you who have whether or not you trim the onions seedlings at some point, and if so, how short? I can't seem to find a definitive answer to this question.

I have to say, I sowed a fair number of seeds, but it doesn't seem like I have that many seedlings to show for it. Some blocks failed to germinate altogether. I'm starting to second guess my soil mix or the fact that I may have pressed some of these blocks too firmly.

24 comments:

  1. I have been trimming my onions and leeks down to 2", I think it helps them grow thicker stalks before transplanting.

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  2. Thomas, I can't speak from experience since this is the first time I have grown onions from seed too, but I was thinking of trimming mine down to two inches this weekend. I will be watching the responses to this posting too.

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  3. I cut mine back today, as a matter of fact. Apparently, it makes for better roots and stronger seedlings but last year, I tested this with my leeks. I cut half the flat back and let the other half grow naturally. I can't say it made that much of a difference to tell you the truth. Might be worth repeating the comparison. I trim them mainly to get rid of the floppy tops (and seeds) once they reach this stage (~4"). I might cut them again once or twice before they get planted out, depending on growth. One thing is for sure, Thomas, it does no harm. I'd say you can safely trim back to half.

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  4. Trim them down a few times, like others said. They're yummy on salads!

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  5. I was just contemplating that my tray of onions are due for hair cut! I tend to trim off about 1/3rd from the top to encourage greater root growth and keep the tops manageable while in starter trays. I don't know if it really helps or not - but I have pretty much always done it and have ended up with good crops pretty consistently.

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  6. I posted this on someones blog just the other day. Hope it helps.

    I read in The Vegetable Gardener's Bible on page 257, Onions "When seedling tops begin to droop, use shears to cut the plants back about 3 inch (7.5cm) high. This stimulates additional root growth. Use the clippings in soups and salads."

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  7. I trim onions but usually just the tip. With yours being 4 inches a little nip would be a good starting point. My onion germination has been pretty lack luster this year too. I have a feeling I will be planting a bunch of sets again. Been thinking of going with all sets next year. Onions are a pain in the rear... :-)

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  8. I agree with others on trimming. I've done it several times with my onions and shallots this season, and the bulbs have really appreciated it.

    Regarding the germination rate, I've read that onions can be slow to germinate, and lower viability over time. Give them some time...

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  9. This year I’m growing onions from seeds for the first time, so I’m experimenting, just like you.
    I cut them twice a week, as they do grow fast. I cut them down to 4cm (2 inches). Now I’m reading this comments and I see that there are different approaches...

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  10. Hi Thomas! Thanks for posting this question.. I was wondering the exact same thing. Looks like I'll be giving a few haircuts this weekend!

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  11. I too trim my onions when they get floppy. I tend to keep them about 3" long at the start. I let them get taller later when they are bigger. I really don't think it matters all that much either way. I like to keep them all the same height so they fit under the lights better.

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  12. Trim! 2 inches is what we do.

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  13. Thanks everyone! You've given me a lot to think about. Based on the differing responses, I think I'll trim mine to 3 inches tall.

    Dan - I agree, onions ARE a bit of a pain...I might stick with sets next year as well. I found several varieties selling for $1.95 per 80 sets at Home Depot....can you really beat that??? A packet of seeds cost more than that!

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  14. The sets I grew last year produced a little less then the seeded ones but not by much. You also have Dixon Dale there in the States that ships onion plants in 5 dozen bunched. A little more money but they offer a really good select compared to sets:

    http://www.dixondalefarms.com/category/long_day_onions

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  15. Well I was wondering the same thing! I think I will be trimming mine, too after reading the comments. I didn't get nearly the germination I expected out of mine, although I just sowed more and it's in the flat with my greens, which is not on a heat mat, maybe that will be more successful.

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  16. Thanks so much for this post!

    I keep a pot of green onions on my windowsill and wondered why the stalks never get thick.

    I think I'll trim them down and see how they like it. :)

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  17. I can't help you here as I've only ever grown onions from sets - but you've had plenty of advice from others anyway! :)

    Have you sorted your rodent problem yet? I'd be so hacked off if some little beastie scoffed all my winter salad too!

    Have a great weekend :)

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  18. A little trim never hurt anyone!

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  19. Hi Thomas. Trimming onions... never have I trimmed an onion in all my years of growing them so I'll be very interested in following your result. By the way, shall I send you one of the yellow squash plants? lol
    Have a wonderful weekend.

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  20. Haha! Di, you are so sweet. If you need a home for it, of course you can. I can always tuck it underneath one of my hoops and see what happens.

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  21. Thomas...you gave me a laugh about the flattened chicken....

    on the onions..i guess it looks like everyone thinks trim 'em...and i like the idea that someone had about putting the tops in a salad....great idea..

    good to see you today, my friend

    kary

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  22. My leeks are starting to come up. If they get too long then I might try trimming some as well.

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  23. I ordered from Dixondale last year. They are a little pricier, but the candy onion was really good. This year I am cutting back. I'm doing sets again. I have never tried onions from seed.

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  24. I did sets last year for the first time. I have chives from seed that I constantly trim just to use. I never trimmed the onions last year unless I needed the green tops for a recipe. At the end I chopped up all the tops and dehydrated them storing them in a jar to use for cooking.

    Can you believe I ran out??? I just did it again with store-boughten green onions last week to get me through until this year's are ready. Guess I will need to fill a few jars this summer! The house finally no longer smells of onions after four days. :)

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