When to Harvest Onions

Onions are one of my favorite garden crops. Knowing when to harvest onions is a pretty simple process. This post and accompanying video will tell you all you need to know.

When to Harvest Onions -



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The reason we love growing our own onions so much is because it is one of the crops that we can grow 100% of our families needs! I love the fact that over the last 10 years or so we have only bought a couple of onions from the store!! Knowing when to harvest onions is really not hard, but there is a bit of a trick to it.

This week I filmed a 5 minute gardening video tip to help you know when to harvest your onions.  The video is below!

Conventional sources will tell you that your onions are ready to harvest when the tops have fallen over. But I disagree with that. I think that once the tops have fallen over you should wait at least 3 weeks or even as long as 5 weeks before you dig those onions up.

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Even after your tops have fallen over your onion bulbs will continue to grow and put on size.  Also after those tops have fallen over and the onions reach their mature size, like all bulbs they will start to draw energy in from the leaves back into the bulb.  I feel like this process makes for a better tasting and longer lasting onion.

When to harvest onions

I don’t harvest my onions until the tops have started to yellow and wither significantly.  Once at least half of the leaves have withered then you can start to harvest.

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Once you have decided when to harvest onions in your garden the next step is to dig them up!  Notice that I didn’t say “pull them up”.  That is because you need to use a shoved or digging fork to gently lift the onions from the soil.  Pulling them from the top could damage the bulbs and we don’t want that.

Curing your onions

Once you have harvested your onions you need to let them cure for about 3 weeks.  To cure your onions just set them in a cool, dark and airy place and let them dry!  The key to getting a good cure is to be sure the onions are out of direct sunlight and that they can’t get wet!  We like to cure ours in our garage on a screen, but a garden shed or even a covered patio will also work.

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Depending on the variety, onions can last for up to 10 months in storage.  They should be stored in a mesh bag in a dark cool spot.  Temperatures around 45 degrees would be best, but are often hard for many of us to achieve.  Just do your best to keep them cool, the longer they can stay at that 40 to 45 degree range the longer they will last.

If you would like a little more info on growing onions, here are a couple of other posts I’ve written:

Complete Onion Growing Guide

Curing and Storing Onions for 10 months or more

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One Comment

  1. Mike the Gardener September 19, 2017 6:24 am Reply

    Great information on Onions. This is a very popular question. For me, I have it written down in my garden journal. Plant onions on May 1st, harvest on October 1st. This is for the larger onion varieties. If I were growing bunching onions, it would be two harvest, plant on May 1st and July 1st, harvest on August 1st and October 1st.
    I’m in zone 7a.


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