Onions are not commonly found in the wild. They are thought to have originated in western Asia, and one of the first domesticated vegetables. They were first created by God on Day 3 of Creation. Onion seeds have been found in Egyptian tombs dated to 3200BC. Onions are in the same genus, Allium, as garlic and chives. Common onions are in the species A. cepa. Onions are used by people for many things. In the U.S., 123,000 acres of farmland are used for onions per year. They have a total value of about $400 million dollars per year.
Onions are biennial plants which means that they will live for two years before flowering, then they will die. A bunch of stalks grow from one point on the bulb. Flowers grow on the ends of the stalks in the second growing season. The stalks will usually grow 2-4 feet tall. The bulb consists of several layers of leaf bases. Roots grow out of the bottom of the bulb and tend to only be 12-18 inches deep in the soil. Onions vary greatly in size, color and taste depending on where they live and the condition of the soil.
Onions reproduce either with seeds or by bulbils (little bulbs) that form from lateral buds. After the first growing season, mature bulbs can be left in the ground or dug up and replanted. Either way the plant will undergo a period of dormancy, then grow during the next growing season. Flowers usually form in June and July. Onions are pollinated by bees and other insects before producing seeds in the second growing season.
There are two main types of onions, short-day and long-day. Short-day onions produce bulbs when daylight is between 12-13 hours a day. Long-day varieties produce bulbs with 14-16 hours of daylight. This photoperiodism, however, does not effect when the flowers bloom, only the rate of growth in the bulbs and stalks. Onions are very tough plants. They can survive through frost and cold temperatures. The optimum temperature for growth is between 55-75 degrees Fahrenheit. In seedlings, the best temperature is a little bit higher, about 68-77 degrees is best. Onions are able to survive crowding, meaning that they can be grown very close together and still thrive. They can, however, be overrun with weeds. Onions Are not commonly found in the wild. Mostly they are cultivated and farmed for human use.
Human Caretaking and Uses.
For good growing, the day-length (short-day or long-day) variety should be selected according to the area in which the onion will grow. They will grow best in full sunlight, but will be fine if grown in some shade. Short-day onions should be planted in the fall. Long-day onions should be planted in the spring. Mature bulbs can be left in the ground or replanted after their stalks have dried and withered. They will be dormant for a while and produce flowers and seeds in the second growing season.
Onions are harvested when the stalks start to fall over. They are dug out of the ground and if weather conditions are dry, they will be left in the field to cure. If weather does not permit outdoor curing, The onions will be brought indoors to a curing facility. The curing process allows the onions to become dormant and dried, preparing them for marketing and preventing disease.
Onions are used throughout the world, mostly for food purposes. They are very versatile and can be eaten either raw or cooked. They are mostly used for flavorings. Onions have a pungent taste and an odor that can cause tearing when cut into. Onions have lots of health benefits. They can help prevent heart attacks, oral infections, tooth decay, and much, much more. Onions can be used outside the body as well. Fresh onion juice can be used as first aid treatment for bee and wasp stings. It can be warmed and dropped into ears to sooth earaches. It can be put into wounds to speed up the healing process. Onion can be rubbed on the skin to act as a natural insect repellent. It can even be used to prevent rust on metals or to polish copper and glass products.