How to grow onions the Japanese way

I have watched how to grow onion youtube videos and read a few articles about growing onions so I thought I knew relatively what I was doing.  As a first time onion grower, I thought and planned on planting my onions in the spring when it got warm just like the articles and videos say.  However, the local grandma that always makes her rounds to get the weekly gossip and just to be nosy informed me differently!
The way the Japanese, at least in my area do it is to plant sets in late November or if by seed in October.  And to let them sit under the snow all winter.  To me this sounds ridiculous because we get over a meter of snow pack here and I thought any and everthing in the garden would be frozen, smashed, and die.  But following the nosy grandma’s advice I planted 200+ onions in late November as she promised me my hard work would not be in vain.
Sure enough March came around and as the snow melted I could see the onions were still there.  Yes, they were smashed but not dead.  In fact, within a week after all the snow melted and they got some sun they were all standing straight up!
There were 5-10 onions lost due to mice or moles, but the rest looked good.  Halfway through April they have already doubled in size and are very healthy.
I still don’t see the logic in planting before winter because when the snow melted they were still the same size!  Maybe its to harvest earlier, get an established root system, or just to have less to do when spring rolls around.  If someone could explain to me the benefits of this I would be extremely grateful.  Where are all you onion experts out there?
But anyways for the time being we are looking at an early summer harvest and I  am really excited to get my first crop of onions under my belt and out of the ground.
As my family eats onions with EVERY meal this crop of upcoming batch couldn’t come sooner to provide us with some deliscious homegrown onions and to help us decrease our grocery bills.  Hopefully the next onion post you will see me standing in the middle of hundreds of nice onions.

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