I love growing onions. Homegrown onions are fresher, more flavoursome and generally give your eyes a good watering – far more than their supermarket sisters. Like carrots, onions are a staple in our house. We love them and have them in everything.
FLAVOUR IS EVERYTHING
I don’t grow them to save money, because onions are cheap to buy. For me it’s about flavour and the sheer kick you get out of growing onions and knowing that when we eat them we grew them.
You can grow onions from seeds, or sets but I prefer the sets. Onion sets are baby onions and as such they are quicker and easier to grow.
I bought my onion sets in a garden centre and I think I got about a kilo. Before I could plant them I had to wait for work to finish on my raised beds and this was delayed due to the ‘boulder’ problem we had in our extremely rocky garden.
By the time the raised beds were in I was really looking forward to getting my onion sets planted and I was starting to worry a little bit in case they went bad before I got my chance to plant.
Onions need quite a rich soil. I cover my beds with newspaper, cardboard and seaweed during the winter and as this breaks down it becomes a natural compost. If you don’t have access to seaweed you could use a seaweed feed or fertiliser.
I rake over my soil, removing weeds etc and then I make holes with the handle of a hammer or other tool. There are special tools you can buy, dibbers, or bulb planters but I don’t find it necessary and the less stuff I have, to lose around the garden, the better.
MAKE HOLES FOR ONIONS
I make the holes about 4 inches deep and I plant them in rows about 6 inches apart.
Once in place I press the onions firmly into the holes, and I cover them completely to prevent birds pulling them out which is a common occurrence in my garden.
WEEDS LOVE EMPTY SPACE
I know a lot of gardening books say to space them 12 inches apart but I have no idea why as it just leaves loads of empty space for weeds to grow in. As you can see above I added some radish seeds in the empty spaces and they grew very well, with plenty of room for both.
I also planted two little courgette plants I had been raising from seed in the greenhouse and they seemed to thrive quite happily in the same bed.
When I bought the onion sets the assistant in the garden centre advised me that I was buying too many, however I ended up regretting listening to her as I just about had enough sets to fill the bed and in future will be buying a lot more.
Onions can flower or ‘bolt’ to early so if yours seem to be about to do this you can pinch out and remove any young flower stems you can see forming.
You could let some of your onions go to flower and save the seeds to plant next year if you like. I did this with some of mine and you can see the results in the picture above – I think they look quite stunning.
Growing onions is really easy and as I said above, you can’t beat the taste. My advice is to plant them where ever you can find a bit of space – you can never have too many.
More about growing vegetables here.