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Expert gardener busts common myth about growing one of the most popular vegetables: 'I followed your advice ...'

"We know we taught that last year, but we've since learned better."

The do's and don't-have-to's of growing onions

Photo Credit: iStock

Sometimes, the best gardening hack is to do less, not more. The mother and daughter-in-law team at Portage View Farm, Jordyn and Kay (@portageviewfarm), recently took to Instagram to show us the do's and don't-have-to's of growing onions. The myth-busting duo says, "Remember, not everything needs a hack. It's better to learn how to do things correctly."

The scoop

The Portage View Farm team highlights two hacks they no longer recommend: spooning and giving the onions a haircut (aka trimming the stems). 

Spooning is the practice of moving the dirt away from the bulb so only the roots are buried and is said to encourage growth. While it may work for some gardeners, Jordyn and Kay found the technique unnecessary. They explain that if the onions are planted no more than 1 inch deep, there's no need to clear the soil, and the bulbs should expand without a problem.

Despite previously using the haircut technique, the duo now encourages gardeners to skip it when it comes to onions. "We know we taught that last year, but we've since learned better," Jordyn said. The green stalks are layers of the onion, and cutting them can stifle growth. Trimming the stalks forces the plant to divert energy into regrowing them rather than growing a bigger bulb. The Gardening Channel agrees, explaining that cutting the stalks inhibits the plant's ability to deliver the nutrients that help it grow.  

How it helps

While much of gardening is a practice in trial and error, learning from others which hacks are worth the effort and which aren't can save new gardeners time, money, and energy. For example, Kay explained that spooning can be difficult depending on where the onions are planted. If the bulbs are challenging to access, the gardener might give up on the crop, not wanting to make the extra effort to maintain the technique. In the video, Jordyn and Kay also demonstrate a key attitude in becoming a garden master: acknowledging what doesn't work.

Part of the reason there are so many hacks and myths surrounding gardening is because different techniques work for different gardeners in different regions. The body of knowledge is constantly changing and growing. Allowing yourself to make mistakes and learn what works best for your climate, location, and soil leads to the best results, whether growing flowers or food.

What everyone's saying

While some commenters were still torn on the onion haircut, many were encouraged by these busted onion myths. "I followed your advice last year on onion haircuts and my harvest was awful," one commenter noted. "This year, I have not touched them and they're the biggest I've grown."

On acknowledging the mistake, Portage View Farm replied, "Always a good reminder to ourselves that not everything needs a hack." 

Accessible, genuine tips from gardeners like Jordyn and Kay inspired others to start planting as well, as one commenter proclaimed, "Because of you guys, I think I'll plant onions for the first time next year!"

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