Top five onions for Hays County

For many of my friends the arrival of November signals the start of the deer and wild turkey season. For me, it’s onion planting time.

While Baker and Oliver hone their hunting skills over at the ranch in Brackettville over in Kinney County, I’m in my backyard planting this season’s crop.

I am often asked about the ‘key to success’ with onions, and I always tell gardeners that they first have to know which variety is best suited to the area where they live. 

Here in central Texas, we plant short-day onions. These grow during the short days of winter and are ready for harvest when the days become longer in the spring.

My top five onion choices for the Hay and Travis counties:

1. Texas 1015y ‘Super-Sweet’ : Probably the most popular onion in Texas. The 1015 is globe-shaped, yellow, and can grow up to 6 inches in diameter. It’s so sweet that you can eat it like an apple!

2. Texas Early White: A new, sweet, white onion that has won awards for its flavor, ease-of-growing, and disease resistance. Matures in 105 days and is globe shaped. Mature width: 5 inches.

3. Southern Belle Red: A large, globe-shaped, sweet onion that grows to 4 inches in diameter. It is the sweetest of the red short day onions.

4. White Bermuda : A flat, sweet, white onion that grows to 3 to 4 inches. This is an excellent onion to harvest early for scallions. This heirloom onion originated in the Canary Islands.

5. Creole Red: A pungent, new red onion that is globe shaped and reaches 3 to 4 inches across at maturity. A strong flavor that works well for Cajun cooking.

These onions need a sunny garden location with loose, well drained soil. Mixing lots of organic compost with our native soils is a must.

For fertilizer, they like a lot of phosphate to start. Organic bone meal (0- 10-0) mixed into the soil before planting works well. As they start to grow, add a higher nitrogen fertilizer as a top dress. Blood meal (12-0-0) or Ladybug organic fertilizer (8-2-4) is very effective.

Plant your onions 1 inch deep and 4 to 6 inches apart. If you like to harvest green onions early, plant them 2 inches apart and harvest every other onion as they grow.

Rows should be at least 8 inches apart so there are enough nutrients to go around. Onions like water, so keep up with a regular watering schedule. (They will not grow in dry soil.) If the leaves begin to yellow, that is probably a sign of too much water.

You can harvest your onions in the spring when the tops turn brown and begin to fall over. This should be somewhere between mid-April and mid –May.

Finally, onions are easy to store. My crop from May of this year is still holding up well in the crisper.

Take advantage of the season and try your hand at being an onion gardener.  I know that’s what I’ll be doing! (At the moment these onions should be available in most local nurseries.)  Happy gardening everyone!

If you have a question for Chris, send it via email to iathyme@yahoo.com. Or mail a postcard to It’s About Thyme, 11726 Manchaca Road, Austin, TX 78748 itsaboutthyme.com

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