Pšíŋ Hinápȟe: Onions Emerging, over 5 days

Pšiŋ. Onions. There is an indigenous wild onion, pšiŋ šičámna, but this post is about domestic onions. These are a special North-Dakota-adapted variety bred by Dr. Frank Kutka at NDSU extension in Dickinson. He gave me the seeds at a seed exchange at the Indigenous Farming Conference hosted by the White Earth Land Recovery Project in Minnesota. They are supposed to be a good storage onion. They germinated in less than a week, and I took daily photos as they emerged.

One interesting fact about baby onion plants is that the top of the plant does not emerge first — a loop of the middle does, and you can only guess which end will wind up staying attached to the soil.

Onion loops getting bigger…

Some onion loops starting to unfold…

Once the tops emerge, they will usually have their seed husks still attached. Some seed heads are visible here, as the onions unfold:

This was the last day I took a picture, before the onions got their first haircut. You can clip the tops off. If you’re starting onions indoors (which is necessary in ND due to the short growing season), you will need to regularly trim the onion plants to keep them focused on producing a wide base and thick root structure.

Frank recommends starting onions indoors in February in order to have them ready to go out into the garden in May. These are from March, so they may not do well this season. But Frank advised me that if I plant them close together, I might be able to convince them to produce seed, rather than bulbs.


I’m going to stick the rest of my onion seed in the freezer, with hopes that the cold will extend its life and keep it viable for next year.

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