Looks like my onion crop is done (end of August). The green part has died right back and I've got just the bulb sat a little way into the soil.

I don't have a good rodent-proof cool dry dark outdoor storage place to put the onions. If I lift them they'll have to live like any old shop-bought onions in storage in my kitchen. I can keep them dark and dryish but not especially cool.

I'm new to full size onions. I've left spring onions in the ground throughout autumn and into the winter before and it hasn't done them any harm. Can I do the same with full size onions? Any reason not to?

  • Re: "not especially cool" -- it doesn't need to be especially cool during curing. Lack of a cool place for storage will reduce the storage life, but you should still be able to store them for some time. You're just unlikely to have usable onions in, say, March next year.
    – bstpierre
    Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 12:20
  • The other factor affecting storage life is variety: what variety of onions do you have, and are they sold as "storage onions"? Some, like Walla Walla are not so good for storage, while Copra is a good keeper.
    – bstpierre
    Commented Aug 30, 2011 at 16:37
  • @bstpierre it's Red Baron Commented Sep 11, 2011 at 19:48

1 Answer 1


Full sized onions should be removed from the ground, with as much of their wrappers left intact as possible, as soon as they're ready to be harvested. Then either:

  • Allowed to dry in a dry shady area for a day, then used immediately.

  • Hung to air dry (cured) for 2 to 3 weeks in a dry shady area with good air circulation until they dry out. To maximise their "shelf-life", they should then be stored in a dry place with good air circulation.

  • Have a listen to Gardening with Tim and Joe podcast, Dry them off 19 Sep 11 (direct link to MP3), and start listening at 10mins:03secs in.

Full sized onions left in the ground after they're ready for harvesting run the risk of rotting, especially if Autumn (Fall) rain arrives (constantly moist soil) along with the cooling of the soil.

Q. Do you have a garage you could store them in?

Onions can be frozen (for at least 6 months), but then they are only really good for cooking with.


  • Clean and peel them.

  • Cut them into the sizes and shapes you want.

  • Lay them out on a flat surface (tray) covered with a sheet of wax paper, then place them in the freezer.

  • Once they have frozen, take them out and transfer them into freezer bags - "portion" sizes, makes using them later on that much easier.

  • Then put them back into the freezer until you need them...

Another way of freezing onions is to first purée them, then transfer them into "portion" size containers for freezing. Onion purée can be used in things like, soups, curries...

Below are another couple of ways to store (preserve) onions:

  • If you like Salsa and have the other ingredients necessary to make it...

  • Pickle them, either by themselves or mixed with other vegetables eg Cucumbers & Onions.

  • no, no garage here Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 21:23
  • @Tea Drinker, then forget that as a suitable storage option... without a suitable storage area the only way I can think of storing them is via the methods I gave above...
    – Mike Perry
    Commented Aug 29, 2011 at 21:30
  • is there a signifcant difference between full sized onions and spring onions in their ability to withstand rotting? as i said in my Q the spring onions i've left in the ground over the winter have never rotted on me (my experience over several winters) Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 9:41
  • @TeaDrinker, honest answer, I don't know for 100%. Don't spring onions left in the ground develop a much stronger flavour? Also I would (educated) "guess" that due to their size, spring onions have a lot less water content, therefore are much less susceptible to rotting when left in the ground... If you're inclined, you could leave a few full sized onions in the ground over Winter to see what happens. Keep in mind, the type of Autumn, Winter you experience will directly effect the outcome (IMHO).
    – Mike Perry
    Commented Sep 9, 2011 at 14:25

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