Onion is a cool-season vegetable that belongs to the genus Allium, which makes it a close relative of leek, garlic, and shallot. According to historical records, onion has been around for more than 7,000 years with initial applications in the field of alternative medicine. The height can be anywhere from 6 to 18 inches. The leaves, meanwhile, are flat and usually bluish or yellowish.
There are three main varieties of onions, with their distinguishing characteristics being the color of their skin or bulb. This impacts not only their external appearance, but also has an effect on their flavor. Out of the three varieties, the most popular is the yellow onion. Its skin is pale gold and has a full flavor, making it ideal for cooking almost anything. Red onion, on the other hand, has a dark color and will be the perfect choice for roasting and grilling, among others. Meanwhile, for white onion, it is best for pasta sauces and salads. When choosing which one to grow, consider how you will use the onion to determine which variety will make the best choice for an indoor garden.
Planting and Growing Conditions
To plant onions indoors, one of the first things that require your attention would be the specific variety of plant. You can choose from yellow, red, or white. The differences have been discussed earlier. Choose a variety with a small or medium size, considering the fact that you will plant them in a container with minimal space available. You also need to choose onion on the basis of their light requirements, although both of which are perfect for indoor growing, especially if you have artificial light. In the case of short-day onions, they require at least ten hours of light and for long-day onion, they need at least 14 hours of light. Consider the place where you live to determine which one is the better choice.
Find a container where you will grow the onion. You need to choose a pot with a large size, which will allow you to plant more onions. This also means that you will enjoy higher yield. It will be better to choose a rectangular pot with a depth of about ten inches. A plastic tub will be a good choice, especially because it is lightweight and cheap. Do not forget to drill holes at the bottom, which will act as the drainage.
When the pot is ready, fill it with your choice of a potting mix. A loamy soil that is well-draining and with neutral pH level will work best for onions. Adding mature compost will also be good, which will help to enrich the nutrients.
Now that the soil is ready, spread seeds on the surface, but make sure that there will be no overcrowding. Growing from seeds, however, is not for people who are impatient. With this, a better alternative is to use onion sets or transplants. This way, you do not have to wait for a long time before your onions will be ready to harvest.
When the container is ready, choose the right location within the household. Make sure that it receives adequate sunlight. The minimum should be seven hours, but this will depend on the variety that you have. Using a fluorescent light is necessary if there is no sunlight indoors.
Onions can bring an abundance of benefits for your health, including the following:
- Reduces Bad Cholesterol: Onions inhibit the production of LDL or the bad cholesterol in the body. With this, it plays a significant role in lessening the likelihood that you will have heart diseases since your cholesterol level is in check.
- Improves Skin Health: If you want to have healthier and younger looking skin, eating onions will also help. It has biotin and Vitamin C, which are essential for maintaining a healthy skin.
- Strengthens the Immune System: Making onion a part of your diet will also be beneficial in terms of providing your immune system with a boost. It will increase the defense of the body towards foreign and toxic elements that could possibly put your health at risk.
- Reduces Cancer: Especially with turmeric, onion can also help in lessening the likelihood that you will have cancer. It provides a synergistic effect, which will also inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
- Prevents Tooth Decay: Eating raw onions may be unpleasant and can give you a stinky breath, but it actually helps in the prevention of tooth decay. It will strengthen the teeth and get rid of bacteria that could lead to a variety of oral health problems.
- Manages Diabetes: Chromium, which is seldom present in food, is the compound in an onion that makes it an excellent addition to the diet of diabetics. It helps in the modulation of blood sugar levels.
- Relieves Stress: Suffering from stress can trigger the excessive production of cortisol, which will affect muscle tissues and protein breakdown. Onion contains quercetin, which will prevent the presence of cortisol, which will also lessen the stress that you are feeling.
Pests and Diseases
A lot of onions are disease-resistant, but without proper care and maintenance, they will still be prone to infestation. This is especially the case when they are in a humid and wet environment. Some of the diseases that can be apparent include leaf blight, neck rot, leaf fleck, powdery mildew, and leaf rot. Meanwhile, for pests, some of the problems that you have to watch out for are onion fly and thrips, among others.
Care and Maintenance
As a beginner, below are some tips in growing onions that you might find helpful:
- Every week, onions in containers need about two to three inches of water. However, make sure that water does not remain on the surface as this can encourage root rot, among other problems. If the weather is hot, you need to add more water. Water only when the top of the soil is already dry.
- There is no need to fertilize, as long as you have a nutrient rich soil. If you have to use fertilizers, however, make sure to settle for those that are organic. Stay away from a fertilizer that has high nitrogen as they will encourage only the growth of the leaves but the bulb will remain small.
- If the weather is fine, you can also consider bringing out the onions once in a while. This will allow the plant to take in more light, which will be essential for its overall health. For this reason, a lightweight pot will be better since it will make it easier for you to reposition the plant.
From soups to pastas to salads, among others, onions have endless applications. With their robust flavor and aroma, they will be able to enhance almost any dish. You can buy onions in supermarkets, but a better thing to do is to plant it at home. It is not demanding in terms of space requirements and maintenance, making it an ideal vegetable to grow even for a novice gardener.