Onions Making Me Cry

Usually onions make a person cry when that person is chopping them in prep for a delicious meal like a flavorful pasta sauce or a hearty chili.

Well when it comes to these onions I’m crying before I’ve even picked up a knife because they just won’t grow. Or I should say they just didn’t grow. Or I should say they grew, but not past the size of shallots. Sigh. Let the tears begin.

As you can see from the photo we planted a lovely array of white and red onions this year and their colour was great, their stalks were green and straight and their bulbs never grew past the size of a quarter. Yes, that is a quarter in the photo to show scale. I repeat, sigh.

I don’t know what went wrong. We chopped off the scapes when we were supposed to, we weeded, we watered, we loved them and spoke kindly to them.

The puzzling other thing is that our other underground crops like garlic and potatoes did well, so it’s not like we can’t grow things underground.

Last year our onions had a similar fate. Stunted. Relegated to faux-shallot status with none of the complex and alluring flavor of that delicious little gem, and all of the densely-packed bitterness you’d imagine of an onion never able to live up to it’s true potential.

Any advice from onion experts out there?

Now pardon me while I… Sniff… Reach for a… Sniff… Tissue…



  1. Andrew H. said,

    August 23, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    I am not an expert by any means, but it might be those darn walnut trees. Apparently the only things 100% tolerant to massive amounts of juglone (the toxin from the walnut tree root system) are some vine-related veggies (beans, melons, squash). Even with raised gardens, as I tried for lettuce and radish, the tree canopy runoff from rain will affect the plant growth. Worse yet, I found that squirrels have decided my raised bed is a good spot for walnut burying – which also adds toxin to the soil. Who knew one tree species could be so evil?

    • stuckinlodiagain said,

      September 6, 2010 at 5:25 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Andrew. I guess the key is to find a walnut-free spot!

  2. Jenny said,

    April 6, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    It may be the walnuts, or it may be that you are garden amateurs… like us in Ottawa. We planted onion bulbs this past summer and I am fairly certain they were the same size at harvest as they were when they were planted. There is certainly some secret that has alluded both of our farming groups. Perhaps the “Seed to Table” book will have the answer?

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