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Why and How to Grow Green Onions

Avatar for Chris Thompson Chris Thompson  |  Updated: November 13, 2019
Why and How to Grow Green Onions

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There are plenty of good reasons to learn to grow green onions. In fact, there are more and more reasons to grow your own food. The recent E. coli outbreak in store bought romaine lettuce is another example of why preppers need to focus on building a sustainable and complete home food production system.

Not only is growing your own food about having a reliable food supply should markets become disrupted but also because of food safety concerns. In this article, we discuss the benefits of growing green onions, why they are important for home gardens, and we go into how to grow them too.

Prepping and Health

It just makes good sense to consider your overall health as you build your survival plan. After all, if you cannot physically handle survival, the rest of your preparedness is not going to matter. Part of improving personal health is very much about what you eat. Green onions are easy to grow and the provide a lot of positives when it comes to nutrition. They will also regrow from the ends that you cut off when you eat them. This means you can keep a bed of green onions growing indefinitely.

green onion chopped

Green Onions and Nutrition

You gain much more if you consume both the bulb and the green leaves. Green onions are also known as scallions and the are very rich in vitamin A. A single cup offers 20% of your RDA if you include both tops and bulbs or nearly 80% if you consume only the top. That is a big of a contradiction but only because the bottoms or bulbs offer you some nutrition that you don’t find in the tops. This is why it is important to consume both the tops and the bulbs.

spring onion green

1 TBS of chopped green onion tops and bulbs offers you as much as 20 percent of your daily vitamin A intake and 31 percent of the RDA for vitamin C. They are also a good source of iron at 8 percent and of calcium at 7 percent of the RDA for a 2,000-calorie diet. There are 32 calories in one TBS of green onions with tops and bulbs but only one calorie in the same amount of green tops. So, the big benefit is the added calories and 7 grams of carbs.

Why Grow Green Onions

When you are building a survival food plan and you include gardening in that plan, you gain a lot and one of those things is food security. You know how the food was produced, if it is organic or not, and the flexibility to enjoy a better diet.

A garden makes it really easy to add food to your daily table and to put food away for another day. One tablespoon of green onion bulbs and green tops gives you seven carbs and 32 calories. That is not a lot, but it is something and something that is so easy to add to your meals.

If you prescribe to the idea that part of preparing for survival is to include your overall health index, then green onions make a lot of sense. These are not foods that will make you fat in fact, they are low on the weight gain scale and very high on the optimum health scale.

In addition, they are a sink for vitamins A and C and minerals such as iron and calcium.

Green onions are not the most expensive vegetable in the produce department but it all adds up. If you find yourself buying scallions (another name for green onions) every trip you take to the grocery store, then you should consider at least growing a few containers of them at home.

How to Grow Green Onions

Green onions are easy to grow, and you can grow them directly in the ground or in a container. As a veg, they are easy to dehydrate so planning a larger crop can be good. How you grow them really depends on how you plan to use them. If you want fresh green onions to cook with or for ingredients/condiments then you probably only need to grow them in a pot.

green onions roots

If you really love these and you are using both the bulbs and the tops, then you probably want to put a row of them in your garden. If you use successive gardening, then you would replant or reseed as you harvest so that you have a never-ending supply of whatever you are growing.

Growing Green Onions in a Container

A half or quarter of a wine barrel is sufficient space to grow a good-sized crop of green onions. This is an adequate space to keep a home kitchen supplied with plenty of these healthy veggies. If you live in a colder area, then a container cover should keep these hardy plants alive and available during the winter.

You will need:

  1. A container that is at least one-foot deep and preferably about 18-inches in depth.
  2. Seeds or starts – You can usually find these at a nursery already started during the spring. You can also start these yourself from seed by sowing then in a small contain and then placing that contain in a south facing window. A half-gallon paper milk carton cut in half long ways and then fill both sides with soil and seed should produce enough seedlings to supply your container with plenty of green onions.
  3. Soil – A health mix of sand, compost, and top soil is perfect. I try to avoid potting soil because it does not have enough organic matter in it to hold moisture during the hotter months of the year. These little guys like moist soil that is also well-drained. The soil should be “loose” and not compact so that their bulbs and roots have plenty of space to grow. A ratio of about 1/5 sand and 2/5 compost and 2/5 top soil well mixed should make a great growing environment. In colder climates don’t be afraid to use extra compost in the bottom of the contain. The heat from the breakdown will help protect the plants during the winter months.
  4. Regular watering. Once established you will need to water these plants at least very three days more so on hot days and less during the cooler months.

Growing Green Onions in the Ground

Furrowed row, ten feet long will produce a lot of green onions. More than you will likely need but you can always process the extra for later or use a portion of the plants to generate seeds.

green onion spring ground garden

You will need:

  1. Soil – Generally you will need to amend your soil. If your garden soil has too much clay, add sand. If it is too sandy add compost. You want soil that drains well but also retains moisture. If you need the soil to hold more water add perlite or something similar to the soil. Compost with a lot of organic material also helps the soil to hold moisture. I find a mixture of both perlite and compost does a good job – about 30/70 perlite/compost.
  2. A furrowed row that is about one foot tall and free of rocks is key. Green onions have shallow root structures, so they don’t need a lot of soil. The tall row is to help the soil drain. If the soil is too most then the bulbs will rot.
  3. Plant these in direct sun and a spot where they get 4-6 hours of sun per day. They do not need more sun than six hours. A place where they get some morning sun and a bit of afternoon sun and then shade is just perfect.
  4. Space the seedlings about 2 inches apart so that they have space to develop. If you buy seedlings at the nursery they come in a big clump. Soak the whole container in water for about 20-minutes and the seedlings should come part without damage.
  5. Water seeds and seedlings every day until the plants are about four inches tall. Then you can water every other day until they are 6-8 inches in height. You can snip the green parts when the plants get to six inches. They are fully harvestable around eight or so inches.

The best time to plant green onions in in the fall and late spring. In most places you can plan on two crops – fall and spring. If you start the seeds indoors earlier, then you can get a jump on the growing season. Of course in a container, you can grow then anytime if you have a greenhouse or are just growing indoors.

Green onions are really easy to grow. If you enjoy them then consider adding in a few variations of vegetables that mix well. One example is chives. As you master growing green onions, then add regular onions to your garden too. They are just as easy to grow. A good tip for growing onions is to look at the days to harvest. Most take about 4 – 6 months to fully mature. There are many types of onions available from hot to mild and red, yellow, and white.

green onion spring

Growing your own food is important. It gives you the control over your own food source and it is important to do so now. It takes anywhere from one month to six months to see a harvest and you to plan your garden so that you have food available when you need it – either by preserving it or being able to pick it fresh.

If you want a crop fast, it is a good idea to get small starts at a local feed or farm supply store. You can then keep your green onion bed going quite easily.

Green onions are very easy to dry in your food dehydrator and will save you a lot of money over the varieties that come in little jars. Remember that chives are another option for green goodness that grows well in containers and adds a lot of flavor and beauty to soups and stews.

Those that like to eat a lot of Chinese and Japanese food will love what growing your own green onions will do for their cooking. Green onions are delicious in homemade miso soups and soup dumplings.

What’s on your growing list for this year?

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4 Responses to “Why and How to Grow Green Onions”

  1. I just get a few bunches from the store, use the tops and plant the bottoms. Then I can harvest the tops as needed. They will produce for a while and don’t take much effort to plant. I take a stick, poke holes just deep enough to keep the top sticking out of the dirt, stick them in and pat the dirt around them. Done! I had some survive the winter and start growing again. I planted another 6 this week.

  2. As an additional plug for green onions, they will re-grow if you just cut the tops and leave the bulbs in the garden or in water.

  3. Onion seed has a very short shelf life, only one year–maybe 3 years if you freeze them. Don’t assume that you can buy seed packets during times of crisis or disaster, and if you buy them in advance to include in disaster supplies they probably won’t be viable when you need them.

  4. Deer have left my onion, garlic, and chives plantings alone, while eating winter squash, kale, lettuce, dandelions, peppers, and tomato plants.

    If you plant enough onions, eat some green, and let the others develop big bulbs for winter eating.

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