GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — Planting onions is probably on your to-do list in the late winter or early spring. Many folks start onion seeds in January or plant onion sets outdoors in the early spring. But getting those sets into the ground this fall is the best option for a great crop next year.
First, planting onion sets in the fall allows them to get a head start on developing their root system. Growing in the cool, often wet fall weather is a great way to establish healthy roots. Then come spring, instead of starting from scratch, the tiny onions will already have much of the hard work done and can get right to growing bigger bulbs!
You will also get to harvest them a touch earlier in all likelihood thanks to this head start.
It's a very similar process to planting garlic.
Onions planted in the fall often end up bigger than those planted in the spring. Some say the flavor of onions planted in the fall is superior as well!
When the freezing temperatures eventually do settle in they will go dormant until we warm up again come spring. Your onions will likely have sprouted and grown since then. Don't worry, this is what you want to happen!
It's always best to use onion sets for fall planting. By the time seeds germinate and establish we will have frozen ground, which of course is not the right condition for growing.
The trouble you might encounter is trying to find some onion sets in the fall. You may have to source online. Next year, pick some extra up in the spring and hold onto them until your fall garden is ready. Try to choose a long-day onion, as those grow best in our northern climate.