Sweet onions are popular among cooks because of their mild taste. They derive their signature flavor from the fact that they contain more water and less sulphur than regular onions.
Some of the best-known sweet onions are Vidalias, which are grown in a specific 20-county region in Georgia. Technically, Vidalias are all the same cultivar, known as Granex, and you can grow them at home.
In Florida, onions should be planted from September through December. Choose a a sunny spot in your garden. You can grow onions from seed, but it's quicker to plant sets. These small bulbs are ready to transplant and give you a head start for an earlier harvest.
Apply a complete balanced fertilizer when you plant. After that, apply a nitrogen fertilizer monthly and irrigate frequently to promote steady growth. Your onions should be ready to harvest in four to five months, typically when one-quarter of the tops have fallen over.
Keep in mind that your homegrown onions may not taste exactly like the ones at the supermarket, since their flavor depends in part on the soil in which they're grown and the way they're fertilized.
The shallot is a delicious onion with a delicate, mild flavor. Shallots are very similar to green onions but grow in clusters of small bulbs, much like garlic, rather than as individual onions. You can consume both the leaves of shallots and the bulbs.
Fall is a great time to plant your shallots. Shallot bulbs are between three-quarters of an inch and one-and-a-half inches in diameter, and are red, pink, white, gray, or reddish brown. Plant small shallot bulbs about six inches apart, leaving the growing point exposed above the surface of the ground. Harvest in early summer when the leaves turn brown.
Save some bulbs for the next season’s garden. Store your dry shallot bulbs in a cool, dry area. Refrigerate green shallots and eat them within two weeks.
- Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide
- Onions Are Nothing to Cry About (PDF)
- Sweet Onion and Strawberry Success in North Florida (PDF)