Red Burgundy onions produce larger, flattened globes 3 to 4 inches in diameter that make excellent slicers.
This is a short day variety that is resistant to Botryis and Pink Rot.
Average time to maturity: 100 days
Detailed planting instructions:
Can be direct-seeded, grown from transplants started inside, or from
sets -- small bulbs about ½-inch in diameter grown from seed the
Choose a weed-free, well-drained location. Raised beds
are ideal. Onions are good for intercropping with other garden plants,
especially early-maturing spring greens. Do not plant where other onion
family crops have been grown in the past 3 years.
Direct-seeding in the garden may not allow enough time
for long-season varieties to mature, but is fine for shorter-season
varieties or for scallions - onions harvested before the bulb forms.
Direct-seed in spring when the soil reaches 50 F. Plant
seed ½ inch deep, ½ inch apart, in rows 12 to 18 inches apart. Thin to
4-inch spacings for large bulbs, 2-inch spacings for smaller bulbs but
higher yields, or 1-inch spacings for scallions.
Start transplants inside about 8 to 10 weeks before last
frost date. Plant 4 or 5 seeds in each cell, or seed in flats ½ inch
deep and ½ inch apart. If tops grow too tall and begin to droop, trim
back to about 3 inches tall with scissors. After hardening off,
transplant 2 to 4 weeks before last frost date. Space 4 inches apart
for large bulbs, 2 inches apart for smaller bulbs, or 1 inch apart for
From sets: Choose bulbs no larger than ½ inch in
diameter. Large bulbs are more prone to bolting. Plant sets about 1
inch deep 2 to 4 weeks before last frost date. Space 4 inches apart for
large bulbs or 2 inches apart for smaller bulbs.
Onions have shallow root systems and need consistent
moisture and good weed control. Water weekly if weather is dry, and
mulch to retain moisture and suppress weeds.
You can always tell when onions
have stopped growing. The leaves will lose their color, weaken at the
top of the bulb and flop over. Each year a few new gardeners watch the
leaves die and wonder, "What's wrong?" There's nothing wrong; it's
Nature's plan. The leaves' job is done - they've put the last of their
energy into the bulbs.
Let most of your onion tops fall over by themselves -
maybe 80% or 90% of them - then bend over the rest of the tops. Once
they're down, leave the bulbs in the ground for another 10 days to two
weeks to mature fully. It's not good to leave the onions in the ground
for longer than two weeks after the tops die because they become open to
organisms that can cause rot in storage, or they might even start
Pull your onions up on a sunny day if you can, then let
them sit in the sun for another day or so to dry (in hot climates this
usually takes just a few hours). This drying kills the root system at
the bottom of each bulb. The roots will be like little brittle wires
when they're dry.
Picking the right day to pull the onions can determine how
well the onions will keep. If you harvest them after some rainy weather
they'll have a lot more moisture in them and won't dry out as well.
Seed-producing onions are biennial and it will take
two growing seasons to get onion seed. This article explains the
Purchase onion seed and plant as you
normally would in the spring. When purchasing seed, only buy
open-pollinated or heirloom seeds. Hybrids and other types of seeds are
not true seed and your results may be mixed.
You should order and grow enough onions
so you have some for eating and some dedicated for seed saving. Onions
can cross, so it's best to start with one variety at a time.
Plant your onion seed and do not pick or eat the ones you intend to harvest for seed.
At the end of the growing season when the onion tops are
brown, drying and bent over, harvest the onion bulbs. This should be
done before the first frost. Do NOT wash the onions, however you can
shake the dirt off. Leave the tops on for braiding later.
Choose only the best bulbs for seed saving. Discard or eat others that may not overwinter well.
Spread onions out in a dry location, not touching one
another, on a board or screen. If it looks like rain, you will have to
move them to a location where they will not get rained on. Try to use a
platform that allows air to circulate around the onions well.
Avoid drying the bulbs in direct
sunlight in temperatures that are above 75 degrees. This can cause the
bulbs to spoil or sunburn. Dry and cure the onions for 10-12 days before
After curing, you can braid the tops so the onions hang
one above the other (not in clumps) and then hang them in a dark, dry
storage area until spring.
A barn, potting shed or greenhouse are
usually good places to hang them. Protect from the frost and do not
store at room temperature. They should keep about 3-6 months and just
begin sprouting come planting time in the spring. Sprouting times vary
among different varieties.
In spring, when it's time to plant onions again, remove
each onion by untwisting the braid and removing the dead, dried up tops.
You will probably notice small green sprouts starting at the tops of
Plant the bulbs in your garden. It is interesting to watch
the large, tube-like seed stalks grow bigger every day. Then one day
you will notice tiny white flowers have formed--the flower head. They
are about the size of a softball and remind one of popcorn balls. They
are quite dainty and beautiful.
When the seeds form, the onion plant
begins to dry. The flower head will begin to darken, turning almost
solid black the seeds are dry and ready to harvest.
Using a brown paper bag, bend the onion stalk over and snip the entire flower head into the bag.
Store in a dry area out of direct
sunlight to finish drying process. To completely remove the seeds from
the flower head, you can shake the bag to allow the loose seeds to drop
Any remaining seeds can be removed by
other techniques; including, threshing, using wire screens to rub them
over or stepping on the seed heads to break open the pods.
Screen any debris from your onion seed using seed screens
or other screens from home. Nice seed screens can be purchased from some
of the seed companies listed in the resource links.
Place onion seed in a sealed glass
canning jar or freeze in freezer bags to lengthen the life of the seed.
If using the jar method, store in a dry, cool dark area without extreme
Now that you know how to harvest and save onion seed, get
involved with other like-minded gardeners who are building their seed
banks. One day our country's future may depend on those who have the
talent to save seeds and pass this knowledge on to others.