You do not need to be a professional farmer or gardener for growing organic onions in your backyard. In fact, with a little bit of knowledge and effort, you can grow some organic onions of your own.
Advantages of Organic Onions
Onions have been one of the most common types of vegetables that have adorned the kitchen shelves for centuries together. Besides being a very good ingredient, onions have been used for many medicinal purposes for treating eye infections and different kinds of allergies. Since onions are one of the most commonly used vegetables, conventional farmers typically use a high degree of fertilizers and insecticides to yield a larger crop and prevent damage from harmful insects. However, recently it has been found out that these harmful chemicals are slowly causing damage to the human immune system, thereby reducing the overall resistance of the body.
Some farmers are switching to organic onion cultivation. The reduced amount of toxins that are taken in by the consumer leads to increased and higher degree immunity and stamina for the consumer as compared to normally grown onions.
Organic farming or sustainable farming is not very much different from conventional farming. The only difference is farming is done in a completely natural way by using natural fertilizers and pest control measures. Here we shall discuss step by step methods of organic onion cultivation.
Step One: Soil Preparation
Like any other crop, it’s important to prepare the soil before onions transplants can be used. Transplanted onions grow best if a phosphorus rich fertilizer is used at least 2-3 inches below the soil before the transplant. The soil should be optimally fertilized and slightly acidic in nature. Onions prefer bright sunlight and moderate temperature in between (55°F-75°F). The soil should be well prepared by breaking down all the large particles and mixing animal fertilizer with the soil. The soil should be left as it is for at least 10 days for it to become “stale", so as to avoid different insects and flies.
Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons/Fir0002
Step Two: Planting
Most of the onion transplants which arrive from the vendors are wilted by nature. The best way to refresh them is to soak the roots in water for some time or keep the onions in mounded soil to retain moisture before you plant. The height of the onion top should not exceed 3 inches and that of the root ¼ inches. Each row of onions should be planted at a distance of approximately 4 meters and the roots should be dug deep into the soil. Care should be taken to ensure that the onion fields are properly irrigated and they receive approximately 1 inch of rainfall every week. Mulching is important to prevent the growth of weeds and phosphorus fertilizers are very good for the health of the onion bulbs.
Step Three: Harvesting
When the top of the onion becomes yellow, it’s an indication that the onions are ready for harvesting. Harvest should start when the top has turned brown. When harvesting your onions, keep in mind that placing the top of a row of onions over the bulb of another row helps to fight sunburn. Harvesting is completed when the outer skins have dried and roots are clipped. Sweet onions have a smaller shelf life when compared to pungent varieties. They are best preserved when they are stored separately in a mesh bag away from moisture.
Organic vs. Non-Organic Farming
The main difference between organic farming and non-organic farming lies in the treatment of the soil and the harvesting techniques used. Farmers who use organic methods of producing onions generally depend on the microorganism in the soil to break down various materials of the soils into formats which can be directly absorbed by the plant and can’t be produced through photosynthesis. In organic farming the common type of fertilizers which are used are made from natural bacteria and fungi found in nature and not from any chemical. On the other hand, non-organic farmers generally treat the soil as a material for holding the plant and believe in providing the essential nutrients by means of chemical fertilizers.
Growing your own organic onions is worth your time and effort given the health and environmental benefits organic food offers.