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Growing Good Food at Home

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Essential Tools and Equipment for Growing and Enjoying Onions

Hand trowel in onion patch

Hand trowel in onion patch

Working your onion garden means having the right tools to do the job. And you need the right tools in the kitchen, too, for being able to prepare onions for your eating enjoyment!

Below is a list of items to consider. If you don’t already have some of these items, please check our Resources section at the end of this collection for some recommended suppliers for acquiring the right tools and equipment.

Onion-specific tools and equipment:

Onion saver
Onions are delicious, but you don’t need the whole fridge to smell like onions. You can find specialty onion keepers in your local home goods department or online. Do you need a customized container for your onions? Maybe not. But if you don’t always use a whole onion every time you make a recipe, it may be worth the investment. Whether you get a specialized container or use one you already have, the key is to make sure it’s airtight.

Onion chopper
This is probably more a tool of convenience than necessity—depending on how often you chop onions. This specialized chopper has a collection container on the bottom, a cutting grid incorporated into the lid, and a cover that levers down to push the onion through the blades. If you’re short on patience and have the cabinet space for a new specialized tool, it may be worth the investment. It also chops other vegetables, like peppers, zucchini—even carrots. Chopped more than you need? The chopper has an airtight seal so you can pop it in the fridge.

Onion storage containers
Onions stay fresh best when they have some air circulating around them. Prevent early spoilage of your onions by storing them in wire baskets, mesh bags, or canisters with ventilation holes. If you’re feeling crafty, you can even knit or crochet a storage bag for your onion harvest!

Onion cooker
If you’re looking for a quick way to cook up some sweet Vidalia onions, you can get a custom-size Vidalia onion cooker. You just pop the peeled Vidalia into the cooker, add some liquid, and microwave for about five minutes. Talk about convenient! And you can use the container to store your leftovers—if you have any.

For the High-Tech Onion Gardener

Here are some items that are more than just “equipment”—they’re not needed for you to be an awesome onion gardener, but they can help simplify the growing process and take your garden to a whole new level!

Greenhouse

Onions are well-suited to greenhouse production. With a greenhouse, you’ll have plenty of semi-indoor space and a more controlled environment for getting a bigger and more diverse garden launched.

A greenhouse would also allow you to think about making extra income from your garden. You can sell extra onions from your home or from a table at the local farmer’s market, or even just gift them to gardening friends and family.

Greenhouse styles include pre-fabricated or handmade—or you can design one that includes both. A greenhouse is a big investment, but can provide you with more onion-gardening options and allow you to expand your overall garden.

Hydroponic Irrigation System

Hydroponic gardening has been growing in popularity in recent years—who knew that you can grow onions without soil! And while hydroponic gardening is a science in a lot of ways, as with all things gardening, there’s also an art to it.

Most hydroponic gardeners swear that onions grown hydroponically taste just as good—the same—as soil-grown onions. So, this can be a great solution for anyone who doesn’t have easy access to land and soil.

General gardening tools and equipment:

Containers and Pots

If you want to start plants indoors before the outdoor growing season commences, you can try several environmentally friendly and free ways to begin with materials you probably already have:

  • Newspaper or brown-paper pots
  • Egg cartons
  • Toilet-paper rolls (yes, these work great!)
  • Random containers, kitchen pans, or baking sheets (you might need holes drilled into the bottom for drainage)—if you have aging or rusting kitchen pans that you’re looking to replace, they make for great “starter pots” for getting your garden launched inside
  • Starter trays and peat pots

Garden Gloves

Using a pair of garden gloves—and wearing long sleeves—when you’re tending to your plants is a good way to avoid skin irritation and to protect your fingers, hands, and arms. Get a comfortable pair of gloves that fit well, so you still have full dexterity in your garden.

Garden Trowel

A useful garden tool, the garden trowel is handy when filling your containers and when mixing compost and worm castings. Avoid cheap versions that can have flimsy handles that are prone to break. Even inferior metal trowels can bend in hard clay or rocky soil. Invest in a higher quality trowel, and you’ll have it for years!

Irrigation Equipment

Many plants thrive when watered slowly and deeply. While tedious and even sometimes difficult to do with a watering can, you might want to consider an irrigation method for keeping your plants slowly and deeply watered.

A standard sprinkler system is not the best solution—while easy to set up, the wide-ranging water coverage of a sprinkler can lead to wet plant leaves that promote diseases and can encourage weeds.

A drip-watering irrigation system that operates on a timer is one of the best irrigation solutions for watering plants. This type of system better controls how much water you use, minimizes water lost to evaporation, and more exactly directs water to where you want to soak your soil. While more expensive than a simple watering can, an investment in an irrigation system can pay off—specially to ensure proper watering when you’re at work or on vacation!

Pruners or Snippers

Wear your garden gloves while pruning, and be sure to get a set of pruners or snippers that are comfortable in your hand when cutting. Don’t skimp on this—you need something that cuts well and will endure through many seasons.

Rain Barrel

Some areas of the country experience drought conditions in the spring and summer, and some municipalities may impose watering bans; that means hand watering only. If you collect rainwater, you can put it to good use when it comes time to tend your plants. Some communities offer rain barrels at a special discount to encourage water conservation.

Spade

Every gardener—no matter what plants you’re tending—needs a spade, or even several of different sizes. Use your spade to move around compost, dig soil for your initial plant hole, and to keep your garden soil tidy.

Spray Pump or Bottle

To control the emergence or spread of plant diseases and pests, get a dedicated spray bottle for your potion to do the job. This is one thing you can go basic on—no need for anything fancy, as a simple plastic spray bottle is fine.

Watering Can

Watering cans allow you to better control exactly where the water is directed in your garden. Plant leaves and fruit don’t need water, the roots in the soil do. Get yourself a good-sized watering can, and have some fun finding a watering can with an interesting design that fits your personality. Also, you want one that has a comfortable grip.

Wheelbarrow

A wheelbarrow makes it easy for you to move soil and mulch from plant to plant; and it works as an excellent mixing bowl when you’re combining the perfect soil blend. If you feel like a wheelbarrow is just a little over the top for your gardening needs, a 5-gallon bucket may suffice. Just make sure you have a good trowel to mix with.

Do you have any essential gardening tools you use that aren’t listed here? Please tell us which items you absolutely need for your gardening.

Do you have any essential gardening tools you use that aren’t listed here? Please tell us which items you absolutely need for your onion gardening.

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