Starting Onion Seedlings

The spring planting season is almost upon us! Gird your loins!

Well… you won’t need that for this part. It’s unusually warm here in Idaho right now, but that doesn’t mean I feel safe putting stuff in the garden beds yet. Today I’m going to cover how I started my onion seedlings, because it turns out, they grow just fine on your window sill!

It’s always a bit of a crap-shoot, putting them directly into the dirt, because you never know which ones will actually germinate. The solution, of course, is to germinate them before you plant them.

  1. Get a piece of white paper towel. 
  2. Place the seeds on the paper towel and fold it, so that the seeds are wrapped in the paper towel, with just one layer of paper between the seeds and the outside.
  3. Get the little package wet, and stick it to the outside of a glass. I like to use a shot glass.
  4. Cover the whole thing with cellophane and place it on the window sill facing the sun.

After about a week, the seeds will sprout. You will want to wait until you can see that some of the shoot has turned green.

When it looks like this, it’s time to plant.The piece of the shoot with the seed attached to it will become the tip of the onion plant. Bury the little sprouts so that the green portion is exposed, but the tip of the sprout is buried. You can bury the seed if you want, but the plant will pull it out of the soil on its own shortly.

After a few weeks, these sprouts will sprout into proper little plants, grow about 5 inches tall, and then begin producing extra leaves.

If you want to start them early, I recommend re-purposing an empty milk carton or something like that to provide more room for them to grow before the last frost happens, and you can finally put them outside.

Happy planting!


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Heirloom Vegetable Garden Seeds              Big Daddy Onion Seeds


    • Idaho is very diverse. Here in Boise, in the valley, it can be very long. Last year, we had our last freeze in late March, and the first moderate frost in early November. But it didn’t kill everything and I was able to harvest tomatoes until the second week of December. Normally it will be mid April to the end of October. In other parts of Idaho, it’s MUCH shorter. In the mountains and in East Idaho it can be as short as 60-90 days.


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