Following on from 10 reasons why you should grow your own onions, here’s how to grow overwintering varieties (planted in the Autumn).
|50 Senshyu Yellow Onion Sets|
Something to remember if you’re aiming for a year round supply of Allium:
Overwintering onions will not be ready to harvest until early to mid-summer and don’t tend to store as well as onions that are sown in the spring (although they can be diced and frozen).
They will however, fill the gap (spring planted sets are usually ready late summer to autumn and will store until mid-spring the following year if stored well). Some people grow shallots to fill any gaps as they store particularly well.
1. Find a supply.
Luckily with the trend in grow your own building, finding a supplier is getting easier. I bought two varieties (Radar and Senshyu Yellow) in a local garden centre ( Morgans in Carlow) who were selling a few varieties. Priced at just €1.75 for 50, sets are generally considered easier to grow and less prone to disease (although they often bolt or run to seed). Sets are also available on-line (see http://www.greensideup.ie/ for links).
2. Prepare the ground.
Avoid planting onions in soil that’s been freshly manured or they will be too lush. I’ve planted mine in the patch that I’d manured for potatoes at the beginning of the year. Onions also prefer soil that has a fairly neutral pH of 6 to 7 so test it with a pH kit (easy to do, just follow instructions on the packet) and add lime if it’s very acidic. Avoid planting them where onions have grown in the last three to four years to prevent pests and diseases.
|Use a marker to measure distance.|
3. Position the Onions.
I find it easier to place all the onions in position and then plant them. I usually follow the recommended planting depths and distances on the packet but if I don’t have a packet usually plant them about 7-8in apart each way. The two packs I planted today recommended 5in apart.
I then use a marker snapped to the correct length and a rake handle (or bamboo cane) laid across the bed as a marker.
|(spot the health & safety hazard!)|
|All that’s left of our summer crop, oh no!|