Onion, also called (Allium cepa), if we want to use its scientific name, is a popular vegetable in the Allium family. You might already be familiar with this plant and some of the other plants in this same category, including leek, garlic, and scallion, to name a few. Onions come in different colors like yellow, brown, red, purple, and even white.
As you might already know, onions are most commonly used in warm dishes, chutney, soups, eaten raw in salads and topped on meat. But while we discuss different ways how we eat it, let’s have a look at some of the other uses it has:
It is commonly used in science experiments to study the cell structure, soothe bee stings, and even make a mosquito repellant, and yes, you can boil the skin of an onion to make orange dye. Cool! Isn’t it?
Onions – Should You Eat Them?
Because we have grown onion for almost 5000 to 7000 years, humanity has also studied this flavor-rich vegetable a lot. You might have heard that it is a nutrient-dense vegetable, helps decrease cholesterol levels, and is enriched with antioxidants to fight against diabetes and heart diseases. But, eating them may also enhance bone density and boost your digestive system. Now, are you ready to learn what the onion plant is?
|Botanical Name||Allium Cepa|
|Plant Type||Biennial / Perennial Plant|
|Size (Fully Grown)||Plant Height From 15 – 36 Inches (38 – 91 cm) And Width 6 – 18 Inches (15 – 46 cm)|
|Sun Exposure||Prefers Full Sun|
|Soil Type||Fertile, Well-drained Soil With Ample Moisture|
|Soil pH||From 5.5 To 5.6|
|Flower Color||Predominantly White, May Vary Between Species|
|U.S. Hardiness Zones||3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, And 9|
Do you feel like you’ve been bombarded with too many facts and figures? Don’t worry. I still have lots of fun stuff to share, so keep digging!
How Many Types Of Onions Are There?
Many onion types come in different colors, as we already discussed. So, let’s name some of these versatile beauties!
- Red Onion
- Tree Onion
- Maui Onion
- Pearl Onion
- White Onion
- Sweet Onion
- Welsh Onion
- Yellow Onion
- Spanish Onion
- Cipollini Onion
Where Did Onions Originally Come From?
As you’d expect, onions have been so loved that wild ones almost went extinct, hence leaving us with little knowledge of their geographic origin. But, we believe that they originate from Iran and Central Asia, while others think they’re from West Pakistan.
As we discussed earlier, onions have been cultivated for almost 7000 years. Yes, that’s how old they are! However, ancient people weren’t stupid and valued them because they helped them quench thirst and be life-savers in times of scarcity. So, after all, we can preserve them.
This great vegetable was also used widely in art and medicine. Onions are even attached to many myths, and you might have heard that Egyptians used to bury them along with the dead, hoping that their strong smell would make the bodies breathe again.
Just A Little Bulb, But So Many Benefits!
If you didn’t know, people consume these veggies because they kill the hunger and have various health benefits! Are you on a weight-loss diet? Worry not; onions got you covered! They are a powerhouse of nutrients and vitamins but low in calories. They contain 89% of water and provide you with essential nutrients, including vitamin C, folate, vitamin B6, potassium, and fiber, so adding it to your diet is an excellent decision.
Would You Like To Grow Onions?
Did the benefits mentioned earlier convince you enough to grow onions in your home garden? If you said yes, here are the climate and growing conditions you’ll need!
An elite product has elite requirements, and hence, fertile and well-drained soil is needed. The ground should be low in sulfur but later abundantly fertilized with nutrients, including potassium and nitrogen.
Although this depends on the variety of the onion, an overview of the need would be as follows:
- Short-day onions need about 12-14 hours of sunlight.
- Intermediate-day onions need about 13-15 hours.
- Long-day onions need about 14-16 hours.
The minor temperature required for the seed to sprout is 55°F (about 12,8°C), and onions are excellent at adapting because they accept many growth conditions you offer them. The icing to the cake is that they are frost tolerant! Even though this fantastic plant has these features, a temperature ranging from 55 – 75°F (12,8 – 24°C) is optimal for growing.
Onion grows under a wide range of climatic conditions, but mild weather without extreme heat, cold or excessive rainfall best supports their growth. And best of all, you can grow them in both tropical and subtropical climates.
Simple Tips That Help You Grow Your Very Own Onions
- Use fertilizers with phosphorous
- Protect the young seedlings from frost
3, Sow seeds a quarter-inch (about 6,35 mm) deep.
- Use enough water, but do not let the soil get soggy.
- Keep in mind that the best time to sow them is in March till Mid-April.
Also, keep in mind that one of the reasons you should consider growing these vitamin-packed veggies at home is that onion gardening won’t make you cry!
Pest Attacks – You Aren’t The Only One Who Loves Onions!
If you’re considering being an onion gardener, you must be aware of the pest attacks that may occur, as you don’t want your hard work to go in vain.
Pests like nematodes, stem and bulb eelworms, thrips, and maggots usually attack onions. Unfortunately, they are also prone to diseases, like neck rot (fungal infection) and slimy outer scale (a bacterial disease). But, thankfully, there are always solutions available. So, to protect your plants, you can:
- Get rid of rotten onions.
- Do not let the ground be soggy.
- Only water the soil, not the leaves.
- Cover the soil around the seedlings with insect-proof material.
- Spread a layer of sand around the plants to stop flies from laying their eggs.
Beware When Handling Onions! – They Quite Literally Make You Cry
I’m sure you’ve heard of the concept of “crying while chopping onions,” and yes, my friend, that is quite the case! But why does a vegetable so worthy make you cry? Well, because they produce the chemical syn-propanediol-S-oxide, and when you cut them, a sulfur-based gas is released. The gas reacts with the moisture in your eyes and forms sulfuric acid, which stimulates the glands in your eyes to release tears.
But, this shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the benefits of onions, and for that purpose, a variety of hacks are available to help you avoid those tears.
For example, one way to avoid this is to wipe your knife with lemon juice before cutting it. Or, you can also chop your onion in a processor and turn it away while removing the lid or go the traditional way by chilling the onion before use, keeping the root intact while cutting, and you’re good to go.
How To Store Onions At Your Home
The best place to store onions is room temperature, preferably in a mesh bag. However, it would be best to take care that the storage is dry and cold, so this place is usually a refrigerator in hot countries. Why should you do this? Because moist areas typically cause them to turn rotten and decay, it’s essential to keep them in a dry environment. Furthermore, these fantastic veggies demand a particular place to be stored, as moisture from other vegetables can cause them to decay also.
Is It Safe To Eat / Consume Onions?
Yikes, you heard that right! Some people are at risk and should not consume them despite their many benefits. It’s easy to understand why we should avoid meat, but giving up on onions is shocking news, even among healthy eaters. Despite the many health benefits, onions are to be avoided by some. Unfortunately, yes, but fortunately, the chance you are among these people is rare.
As a quick reminder, I want to inform you that if you suffer from acid reflux, ulcers, heartburn, intestinal inflammation, or skin rashes, amongst other conditions, you better stay away from this plant!
The good news is that onion allergies are infrequent! So, if you don’t react after consuming them and don’t suffer from the health problems mentioned above, take advantage of these vegetables and eat them as much as you want! In moderation, of course.
Pregnant And Breastfeeding Women
If you’re wondering whether you should eat onions during pregnancy or breastfeeding, don’t worry. This plant helps to strengthen your immune system with the help of vitamin C in it. This applies to the mother who is expecting and to the unborn child.
Onions may have many health benefits but remember to use them in moderation to keep yourself and your unborn child safe. Because if you overeat them, you might have to deal with uncomfortable stuff like diarrhea and heartburn.
You will be glad to hear that kids who eat onions tend to absorb iron from other foods better and enhance their immune system at the same time. But in a nutshell, everything is okay in moderation, so don’t let your kid only eat onions even though eating them a lot won’t be a significant health concern.
People With Allergies
Suppose you experience nausea or vomiting or any gastric problems after consuming onions. In that case, I have some bad news for you because you are allergic or using the fancier term “intolerant.”
Other symptoms that might state an allergy are rashes or hives on your body. You can even feel tingling or itching in your mouth or swelling lips, tongue, face, or throat.
People With Diabetes
Thankfully, this plant is an excellent addition to the diet of a person who suffers from type-1 or people with type-2 diabetes. The reason is that consuming fresh onions lowers blood glucose levels. As simple as that!
As a new pet owner, you might be surprised to know that onions are poisonous to dogs and cats in all forms. It would be best if you didn’t give it to your pets because it breaks down their red blood cells, which can, in turn, lead to anemia. So, please don’t give them to your pets!