It can be difficult to find specific onion varieties in sets or transplants, so growing from seed may be a preferred option. Onions are one of the first plants to be seeded for transplanting because they take a significant amount of time (6 to 8 weeks) to reach transplant size and because they can be set out relatively early (late March in much of eastern and central Kansas). Therefore, we want to start onions in mid- to late-January. Onion seed should be placed ½ to 3/4 inch apart in a pot or flat filled with a seed starting mix. Place the container in a warm (75 to 80 F) location until young seedlings emerge. Move to a cooler location (60 to 65 F) when the seedlings are 1 to 2 inches tall.
Make sure they have plenty of light, using florescent lights if needed.
Start fertilizing when the seedlings reach 2 to 3 inches tall using a soluble fertilizer with each or every other watering.
Onion seedlings tend to be spindly with the remains of the seed sticking to the end of a leaf for several weeks. Encourage stockiness by trimming the ends of the leaves when the plants reach 4 to 5 inches tall. Start hardening off the onions in early March by moving the plants to a protected outdoor location. You may have to move them inside temporarily to protect them from extreme cold snaps.
By: Ward Upham