October 16, 2009

Good Grief, Why Are Onion Sets So Expensive?!?!?

In the first place, I discovered it's difficult to find onion sets for fall planting. No one seems to carry them locally. Of the two mail order places I did find, I was shocked at the price. Are they any cheaper in the spring, I wondered. After all, they're nothing more than baby onions and I can buy grown-up onions at the store for way less than that.

After they arrived (backordered at that), I was dismayed at how few there actually were.

Half a pound of onion sets is just a handfulThese were the cheapest I could find at $7.95 for half a pound, not counting shipping.

Fortunately, I found this article, "Growing Onions", at the National Gardening Association website. It describes how to grow your own onion sets from seed, which I am definitely planning to do next summer!

copyright October 2009 by Leigh at http://www.5acresandadream.com/


  1. hummm the onions I bought at Walmart had a lot more in the bunch and were cheaper too. I didn't even plant them all...I wonder if they'll still be good next year.

    I also forgot about them and I wonder if the ones that lived made it. LOL!

  2. Gosh, Leigh, everything is expensive these days. All I can say is the cost of fuel and labor that have gone into harvesting your onion sets and packaging, looks like a petroleum product on those bags, have increased too. Maybe Renee's onions came from some place outside the USA and yours might be grown and harvested here.

  3. I'm with you Leigh, open pollinated, heirloom,non-hybrid seed....only way to go:)

  4. I hear ya! You should look into the price of garlic. I wanted some specific garlic varieties this year and the cost was unbelievable! Add $7.95 shipping, then, to the subtotal and for a pound and a half of (two diff kinds of) garlic, it was $37.00!!! My husband and I dishearteningly realized that this was more than what we would pay over an entire YEAR if we just bought garlic from the grocery store. But, then, that's not the point, right? :-)

  5. Ok, so I didn't want to end on that negative note, so...
    Just think how good those yellow rock onions are going to taste!!!
    :-) :-) :-)

  6. Renee, part of my problem is the time of year. If it were spring, I could get onion sets locally anywhere. I didn't consider onion plants because they were even more expensive from a catalog!

    Julie, it's strange really. If I went to the grocery store and saw that a 3-pound bag of onions was selling for $47.70, I'd say they were out of their minds and I could do without onions! How odd then that home gardener's are willing to pay prices like that for sets and plants. I will be curious as to how much those onions weigh when I harvest them.

    Theresa, too true, sadly. Which is all the more reason I need to be garden self-sufficient as soon as possible.

    Molly, that's absolutely correct!!!

    Farmgirl, you make an excellent point. And I didn't interpret it as negative, just a valid concern/complaint. There seems to have been an unsettling trend over the years, that anything DIY (gardening, crafts, sewing, building, etc) is becoming just as, or more expensive than buying ready-made. Not good in my way of thinking.

  7. I had trouble with the onion sets I bought this past spring. All the plants flowered as they would if planted for the second year. I'd like to try growing my own sets next year too.

  8. I tried both (expensive) onion sets and (cheap) onion seeds in Spring and the sets never gained bulk but the ones form seed actually made it to spring onion stage and were delicious. Next year I'm just doing seeds!

  9. Marriedtothefarm and Kaath, I found both of your comments very interesting. I've only grown onions one other time in all the gardens I've had, but it was so long ago I can't remember if they were seeds or sets! Next year it's seeds for sure, well, maybe some sets if I can find them locally too. I've been researching heirloom onions and hope to never have to buy seeds or sets again after next year.

  10. Thanks for the information. I forwarded the article to Ian. We didn't use sets this year but planted onions from baby plants with good results. I think garlic needs to go in the ground now though.

  11. Old article, I know, but I found the equivalent of sets at the grocery store this past fall. They were in the food aisle, next to the shallots and garlic. They were not dried though -- they were being sold for eating.

    Anyone who's grown onions knows you can cut the outer part of a fresh bulb (for use), and re-plant the inner part and gain a new onion bulb a few months later. So, I planted the food onions, and voila... onions!

    Oh, and $3 per bag. :)

  12. Thanks for that! I know that sets are nothing more than very young onions, so why shouldn't that work. Didn't know about planting the inner part either. Onions have been a challenge for me, though I recently found the ones I missed last year doing just fine even now.


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