Todays post is about onions, a number of you thought this was a good idea so this is for you. Onions are the most used and useful vegetable in the kitchen, used to enhance flavour and add depth to all sorts of things from sauces to stews. They are in general very easy to grow. (Sorry Sonia) Onions can be grown from seed but for this post I will concentrate on sets as this is how we normally buy ours. Sets are immature onions which have been grown from seed the previous year. Once your bed is prepared you can put them into the soil and the rest is up to mother nature requiring little assistance from us.
It is best to choose a place which is open and sunny for onions. They are usually planted from late winter to mid spring but if the ground is prepared it is best to get them in earlier weather permitting of course. Preparing a bed requires little more than remove weeds and raking the soil surface, planting in shallow holes roughly a hands width apart. That’s it, nothing to it…right.
One of the main issues with onions which will require a little patience and intervention is that the birds or worms will pull them out as they mooch around in the soil. For this reason it is good to check the crop every day or so and put back into the soil any which have been tugged out. You could also cover them with some fleece or a net cloch to help but remember to keep checking to put any back into the soil. Once they take root this problem should stop.
Onions can also be used as an intercrop plant between other vegetables (but not beans) planting with carrots can help hide them from fly. Onion sets rarely suffer from onion fly and growing under netting or fleece also helps solves this issue.
Once the onions have taken root in the soil and started to grow it is best to to weed around them by hand being very careful not to damage or break the leaves. If they do start to sprout flower buds we tend to carefully break them off so they put all their energy into to swelling the bulbs.
Depending when you sow the crop they are ready to harvest around August – September time. When the bulb is mature the foliage turns yellow and topples over. According to Mr Flowerdew’s book never bend down the leaves to help ripening as this can let disease into the plant. Best to loosen the soil underneath the roots or sever them with a sharp knife. Dry them off undercover in an airy place, drying takes around 7 – 21 days depending on the onion. Thick necked bulbs can be put to one side for use in the kitchen and the rest can be stored in open trays which is better than hanging in bunches.
So there you have it, a basic guide to growing onions, good luck and let us know how your growing go’s. Any messages or comments please leave below.