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Grow your own: How to grow onions at home

There is nothing quite like a delicious tomato and onion soup which is central to almost every meal. Like most vegetables prices for this staple can skyrocket in the dry season so it is worth growing these at home to ensure your own supply. Here are some steps to follow when growing onions in Zambia.

Choosing Onion Varieties

When it comes to choosing onion varieties, it's important to consider the Zambian climate. Onions grow best in cooler temperatures, Your local agricultural supplies shop will be able to advise you on popular varieties.

Seed-Co Zambia, Hygrotech Zambia, Stark Ayres are commercial seed companies that supply Zambian agricultural market.

You can also find companies that supply ready-to-plant seedlings. Most of these will advertise online or in Facebook There is a small vegetable seedling nursery just outside of Hygrotech seeds in the showgrounds that sells vegetable seedlings.

Finding a Location

Onions can be grown in containers, raised garden beds, or normal beds. Onions need full sun to grow, so it's important to find a location that receives at least six hours of sunlight per day.

Starting Seedlings

Onions can be started from seeds or sets. Seeds can be started indoors and transplanted once they have reached about 10 cm in height. Sets are small, immature onion bulbs that can be planted directly into the soil. It's important to plant them about 2 cm deep and 8-10 cm inches apart.


It's important to avoid over-fertilising, as this can lead to lush foliage but smaller bulbs.

Harvesting Onions

Depending on the weather conditions, and the size that you want to harvest them at, onions can take 4 to six months to mature. Onions are ready to harvest when the tops begin to yellow and fall over. Once this occurs, onions can be pulled from the ground and allowed to dry in a cool, dry place. This can take anywhere from two to four weeks.

Onion-like vegetables such as leeks, chives, and society garlic can be grown using a similar method to onions. However, it's important to choose varieties that are suited to the Zambian climate and to follow the appropriate growing guidelines. With some care and attention, anyone can successfully grow onions in Zambia.

Onions sprouting
Onions sprouting

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