The Difference Between Onion Seeds & Sets

In this post we’re going to talk about onions! Mainly the difference between onion seeds and onion sets.

When growing your own onions, there are two different options of how to do it. You can grow them from scratch from seeds. Or you can grow them from onion sets, also called onion starts. 

Onion Sets
Onion sets are small dormant bulbs, that are essentially baby onions. Each bulb will develop into a mature onion over the course of a growing season.

Benefits Of Growing Onions From Sets

Ease Of Growing - With onion sets, you skip the whole first phase of growing the plant. All you have to do is push each bulb into soil and away you go. It is very hard to make a mistake.

No Need For Other Materials - Growing from seeds will require compost and seed trays to get them started, whereas with onion sets, you skip that part, reducing the need for the materials.

Time Saved - If you are lacking time, growing from sets rather than seed will save you a lot of time and effort, as you skip the whole seed sowing and transplanting part of the process.

Quicker Growing Season - Onion sets can be planted later than seeds and still be ready to harvest by the end of the season as they already have a head start.

Convenience - For all of the above reasons, the popularity of onion sets is mainly down to convenience. 

Onion Seeds
Onion seeds are small and black, just like in the picture above. They are best sown early in the year to give them a good long growing season. Using seeds, you will be growing your onions completely from scratch.

Benefits Of Growing Onions From Seed

Cost Effectiveness - The cost of growing onions from seed is a lot cheaper than growing them from sets. A pack of seeds will generally have 200 to 300 seeds in it, whereas a pack of onion sets of roughly the same price will generally have 75 in it.

More Control - Seeds are usually more available than sets. Sometimes the onion set growers can have environmental issues that reduce their yields, and so reducing the availability of onion sets.

Onion Size - A matter of opinion, but a lot of people believe that the eventual size of onions grown from seed are bigger than onions grown from sets.

Shelf Life - The shelf life of onion seeds is far greater than onion sets. Onion sets will eventually perish in a number of months if they are not planted, whereas onion seeds can remain viable for a few years. 

It should be noted that as far as seeds go, onion seeds are one of the lowest performing varieties for remaining viable. Their germination rate can reduce quickly if they are stored at a high temperature. In general, their germination rate reduces quicker than most other vegetable varieties, so it is best to try and use them within a year of buying them for the best results.

I might have missed some of the pros and cons there, but if you are interested in growing your own onions, hopefully that might be helpful in deciding what is the best way to do it!

We have Red Baron onion sets, and we also have Red Baron seeds available, so if you were interested in comparing, you could try to grow them from both seeds and sets! 

The Difference Between Onion Seeds & Sets

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