Clare & Dante Plant Onions from Seed

A few weeks ago I posted about pruning my blueberry bushes, something I had my characters do in Heirloom. Recently I planted onion seeds to grow my own starts, also something my characters do.

I planted some that I know do well in my area, and some I just happened to have the seed for: Red Burgandy, Spanish Sweet, Cipollini, Walla Walla, and one I just call “Pete’s storage onion,” because I got it from Pete and he only labelled it as a storage onion. 🙂

Pete’s onion was the first up.  

planting onions

And the sprouting begins!


Here is the excerpt from Heirloom, chapters 11 and 14, where the children learn about onions:

Chapter 11

Clare and Dante

“Each pair will get a thirteen centimeter pot, fill it with soil, wet the soil, and plant approximately fifty seeds.”

Dante and Clare beamed. Planting seeds already, and it was only February! It wasn’t yet a year since they had planted their first seeds, but it seemed so long ago.

“Any questions?”

“Yes, can you go through it all again?”

It was Minnie. An audible sigh escaped somewhere in the back of the room. Genevieve stared in disbelief. “Which part?”

“Well, so we’re planting onion seeds? I thought that onions were planted from bulbs.”

She seemed to be showing off again. What was a bulb? Clare wondered.

“Many people plant bulbs. Some start with seedlings. What we are dong here today is planting seeds to grow the young plants. That’s why we are putting so many in a small pot. When the starts are ready and the ground outside suitable, they will be transplanted into the garden, much farther apart. We will also sell some of our starts at the farm festival in April.”


The class seemed relieved that Genevieve’s succinct summary satisfied Minnie.

“Anything else?” Genevieve asked, undeterred.

Clare glanced around. No questions. Everyone seemed as eager as the children to finally be getting their hands dirty.

Chapter 14

Clare and Dante

As February drew to a close, Clare and Dante spoke often of the arrival of spring. The onion seeds had sprouted exactly ten days after being planted and were greening up nicely. Dante hoped (and not at all secretly) that the sprouts would reach ten centimeters before they could be transplanted so that he could snip them back to seven centimeters. For some reason, the idea of giving the onions a haircut had rattled his funny bone. He had even been inspired to draw a goofy face on the pot so that the sprouts resembled green hair growing straight up. There was nothing he wanted more than to give “Onion Bob,” as he had nicknamed their pot, a flat top.

By the way, if you do go to trim back your onion sprouts like Dante was eager to do, go ahead and throw the trimmings into your salad!

Do you grow onions from seed? Have you any tips to share? Please leave in the comment area below. 🙂

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed SaversVisit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

7 comments on “Clare & Dante Plant Onions from Seed

  1. *sigh* I don’t grow anything anymore. No garden outdoors and cars indoors.
    Love your post.

  2. Ha ha ha. That should have read c.a.t.s. who are responsible for my typos. Get off me, cat. o_O

  3. If Dante grew chives, he could trim them often!

  4. Reblogged this on and commented:

    Once again I have started onions from seed after skipping last year. Nothing up yet, so I thought I’d rerun this post from a few years ago.

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