Spot light on……Onions

Onions are a staple ingredient in most peoples cooking and are one of the easiest vegetables to grow.  Many allotment plots include rows of onions as part of the course.  Now is the time of year to think about planting overwintering onion sets. Although they can also be planted in the spring, autumn planted onions tend to produce a better crop, having had a few more months to get established.

There are many different varieties of onions that you can grow. The most common type of onions are yellow onions, red onions, spring onions, and the larger salad Spanish onions. Onions are a member of the Allium family, that also includes spring onions, (scallions) shallots, leeks, garlic and chives.

Onion can either be grown from sets or seeds.  Sets are miniature bulbs that when planted will just swell to a larger size.  Growing onions from sets is the easiest way but it is more economical to grow them from seed as you generally get around 200 seeds per packet!  Seed onions also tend to produce crops that store better.

Spacing

Onion sets need to be spaced 6″ (15cm) apart each way or spaced at 4″ (10cm) in rows 8″-12″ (20-30cm) apart. Closer spacing produces smaller bulbs but there is no point going over 6″ (15cm) apart.

Carefully make a small dip in the soil using a small stick or a dibber and gently position the onion set, pointed end upwards.  A sprinkling of general fertiliser or blood, fish and bone to the soil about a week before planting will help the bulbs to get established.  Ensure that the top of the bulb is showing and that it is not pushed into the soil too firmly as this could damage the root system.

Protection

Its best to cover the newly planted onion sets with some sort of protection such as cloches or netting to prevent birds from eating them. Regular hoeing between the bulbs helps to keep them weed free but be careful not to damage the bulbs.

Harvesting

Onions are ready to harvest as soon as the leaves turns yellow and bend over.  Overwintering ones are generally ready in June whereas spring planted sets are ready around August.  Gently lift the bulbs from the ground, remove any excess soil and leave them to dry in a warm, dry place for at least 2 weeks. After that, tie or plait the stems and store in a cool, dry place until needed.  I tend to use either my unheated greenhouse or shed.

Pests, problems and diseases

Certain varieties of onions have a habit of bolting.  This just means that they start to go to seed and concentrate on producing flower heads rather than swelling the onion itself.  Not all varieties of onions will bolt and this can be prevented by planted ‘heat treated’ sets.  Onions have a few pests and diseases. Details of the most common ones can be found using the links below.

Onion fly

Onion white rot

Downy mildew

Varieties

Yellow Onions
Ailsa Craig
Bedfordshire champion
Marco
Hercules
Champion
Troy
Sensyhu Yellow
Sturon
Stuttgarter

Red Onions
Red Baron
Red Electric

Shallots
Ambition
Figaro
Banana
Zebrune
Golden Gourmet

Happy diggin’

Debb

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Spot light on...... and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Spot light on……Onions

  1. Hi Deb. I’m over from Not Just Green Fingers blog. I have really enjoyed discovering your blog and look forward to following your allotment adventures.

  2. Pingback: Attack of the Onion Fly! | digginwivdebb

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s