October 31 - Marilyn S. writes:

"This spring I planted walla wallas, spanish whites and red globes from onions plants that I got from Territorial Seeds. The wet and cold spring we had did a number on them and as a consequence I got quite a few bolted plants and a lot of underdeveloped bulbs. Some of the plants have very thick stems, but no bulb to speak of! Last year when I planted these varieties I got champion size onions. Needless to say, I'm pretty disappointed this year. My question is, can I leave the thick stemmed, undeveloped onions in the ground over winter with lots of leaves mounded around them so that they will hopefully size up in early spring? My intuition is telling me this will probably not work, but I'm casting about for expert opinions. Thanks!"

Onions are biennial (which you may already know) - so probably the bolting problem was due to the young plants seeing too much cold weather. They thought they'd overwintered, in other words, and so as it warmed up they thought it was time to make seed - even though they were small.

But to answer your question... it's not going to hurt anything to try it. The individual plants that already bolted are probably not going to produce anything worthwhile, but if you have some that didn't bolt I would expect they might produce a decent onion next spring (although I bet they will bolt at that time). So as long as you've got the space, I'd say go for it! If it doesn't work out, all it's costed is a little time.

I've only had middling success with spring planted onions - in part because of weather issues such as you've run into, and in part because my soil is heavier than onions like. So I haven't grown spring onions in a while - I grow onions overwinter, and I grow leeks. This does leave some gaps in availability, though, which we fill at the grocery store. :-)

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This page was last updated November 19, 2013