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Growing and eating green onions are a rite of spring at my house. We eat them raw, fresh from the garden or cut them up in salads. They are also awesome in wilted lettuce. Not many garden plants are easier to grow and they're a perfect item for any beginner gardener, and a favorite of experienced gardeners as well.
Green onions are essentially onions that you harvest before they are fully mature. They are one of the easiest of spring vegetables you can grow.
You can either buy onions "sets" or onion seeds. Sets are onion plants that were started from seeds, and pulled up when they bulbs are just starting to develop. They are usually bound in bundles of 25, 50 or 100 for sale.
You can also find onion bulbs that look just like miniature versions of mature onions. These are about 1/2 inch across and are also called onion sets.
Onion seeds are very small, and need light soil (potting soil works best) to germinate effectively. Start seeds well before the last frost of spring. Plant very shallow, not more than 1/4 inch deep and keep soil moist (not soaked though) They will sprout dense, so be prepared to thin or transplant as soon as they are a bout 2" tall.
Either type works perfectly well, so don't worry - just get some and get planting.
Plant onion sets or bulbs in the early spring, well before (3-4 weeks) the last threat of frost. They grow best in loose, well drained, loamy soil, but will do fine in most gardens soils. They don't do well in wet, poorly drained soil, and if it's too wet they will just rot in the ground and never grow.
Start by working the soil until it's loose, then dig a trench about 2 inches deep. Place your onion sets at the bottom of the trench, with the green tops sticking out of the soil. Bulb types have no green top, so make sure to plant them root end down. Cover to the original soil level. Your onions will be ready to harvest 3-4 weeks after planting.
Harvest your onions by grasping the top and simply pulling straight up. If you have exceptionally heavy soil, you might have to loosen the soil a bit with a shovel or potato fork on either side of the row, before pulling them up. Pull up only what you will eat in a few days, because they don't keep very long even when refrigerated. They'll last a lot longer if you leave them in the garden until you're ready to eat them.
Any remaining plants that you don't eat, can be left in the soil and allowed to grow to full sized onions for cooking and eating in the summer. They should be kept weed free, and they do better if you hill soil up around them 2-3 inches deep, after they are growing well.
Mature onions grown from green onion varieties are generally not the best candidates for cold storage, but can be blanched and frozen. If you also want to grow onions for longer term cold storage, be sure to buy varieties specifically developed for that purpose.
If you grow a spring garden, don't miss the opportunity to grow a batch of tangy hot green onions - they're just the thing to satisfy that spring craving for something fresh and green.