Thursday, July 3

A definite improvement

Last year we had a total crop failure with respect to out autumn onions. In May 2013 our autumn onion crop looked like this.
It was a write off. We planted the sets on 14 October 2012 as we had ordered sets online and had to wait for delivery even though we were itching to plant. By January little progress had been made.
We came to the conclusion that the sets were planted too late and didn't have a chance to establish themselves before winter. We decided the best course of action for 2014 was to buy locally so we could plant earlier although this did mean our choice of variety was very limited.

So this time the sets were planted on 21 September and were off to a much better start.
We had high hopes but didn't want to count our onions before they were lifted, although things continued to look promising. Below in the top photo garlic is in the foreground.
Last week we decided that it was time to lift both the autumn onions and the garlic. 

We were pleased with the onion harvest but, despite each clove of garlic that we planted producing a bulb which formed cloves in spite of my concern that it hadn't had a cold spell, I was a bit disappointed as the bulbs are rather small. The two garlic varieties aren't the ones I would have chosen given a choice - they were all on offer at our local nurseries but even the elephant garlic was smaller than expected.
There will be enough garlic for our use but next year I will be hoping for different varieties.


The onion harvest was as follows:
The chart doesn't show a direct comparison as we had differing numbers of sets of each variety but most sets produced an onion even the red variety which is often more tricky.

We think the early planting made a difference but other variables may have had an effect. We had a mild winter, plenty of rain in spring and also the onions were planted in a different bed. We will be buying sets locally so we can plant in good time again and we will see whether we get another good performance next year.

29 comments:

  1. That looks a very good harvest. Do you like a wide variety because you can taste a difference between them or just so that you're hedging your bets performance wise?

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    1. It's mainly to hedge bets for perform,ance versus prevailing conditions, Jo but the reds are a milder flavour

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  2. A much better performance from your onions this time. I reckon you've cracked it. I have not yet dug up my garlic but do you think the cloves need longer to swell or will the plants then just produce flowers?

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    1. Next year could be a different story again, sweffling, You can leave the garlic 'til the leaves die back. Ours had started with rust, as they generally tend to do on our plot, so they wouldn't have done any more growing.

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  3. I've always been a big fan of plants over sets, but then our weather is so much different. We can't plant in the fall. The onions wouldn't survive. So we plant as soon as we can dig the soil in the spring.

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    1. We start the summer onions off on pots in the greenhouse, Daphne and plant out but the autumn ones go straight in as sets.

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  4. Looks like a great harvest, mine have been dire! Birds trampling on them didn't help.

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    1. There's always next year, Jo

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  5. I always thought that elephant garlic should have huge bulbs, you are more lucky than I am Sue, because you can grow any onions or garlic at all. I tried to grow them 2 times and it was always a failure. My clayish soil is probably to wet for them, because they either rot or don't grow at all. However, this year I sowed 1 bulb of walking onion, which was a gift. It's growing, but.. I'm waiting for it to flower and produce more bulbs.. I hope it'll flower.

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    1. Elephant garlic should be much larger than ours, Dewberry as they were last year, Our soil is a clay soil too - could it be a variety thing?

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    2. Maybe, I had only Stuttgarter Riesen, bought in Lidl market - so maybe this is the reason. I'll try again with onions :)

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  6. Well at least you are harvesting onions Sue. I have never tried autumn onions but may give it a go this year If I ever get on tops of things. I am hoping to get some more work done this weekend....roll on summer holidays when I have more time!!

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    1. It's a case of using space over winter Tanya as much as having the onions to hatbest but in a dood year we don't have to buy onions at all.

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  7. On Gardeners' Question Time last week I am sure I heard Bunny Guinness talk about a calcium based material which you spread on a plant's leaves which deters slugs and snails. But now I can find no mention of it. Have you heard of anything like this by any chance?

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    1. Was it This product that I reviewed last year sweffling?

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    2. You are a marvel, yes I am sure this is the one! I knew that if anyone had any info. it would be you:) Sorry i missed this post first time around. Thanks very much, I need something for my baby runner beans.

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  8. You might remember I planted shallots from seed for the first time. I ended up with few of them so I also planted bulbs. I don't know what was wrong with these bulbs but not a single one of them came up. I was wondering if they had not been irradiated (as the ones from the grocery store are). Anyhow, I will only have the ones I started from seed. They seem OK but there are very few of them.

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    1. We've never tried shallots from seed, Alain - does it take a long time from sowing to harvest?

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  9. I have never success on growing Allium, except garlic chives. Maybe our wet and hot climate is not suitable for its growth. But here, garlic and onion grow so well on the highland, and the shallot grow so well on the low land near sea side. How many way I have been doing, but no one gave me good result. I should learn more about it

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    1. Hot and wet aren't ideal onion growing conditions, Endah

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  10. Hope to get good harvest this time! I never succeed either in planting allium.... ;(

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    1. As with Endah maybe your climate just doesn't favour alliums, Malar

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  11. I haven't grown any onions this year due to space restraints - I did plant shallots though and they have mostly bolted - so not such a good idea after all.

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    1. If we were shorter on space we probably wouldn't grow them either, Elaine. Our summer onions have thrown is lots of flower spokes this year too.

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  12. It's interesting to hear how your autumn onion and garlic crop have got on, my autumn garlic bulbs are small to and I only planted elephant garlic. My onions are still small too, I don't have much luck with them, I think it's the sandy soil, even though I try to improve it.xxx

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    1. Onions aren't as easy as you may think are they, Snowbiird?

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  13. I tried autumn onions (radar) two or three times but didn't have an amazing harvest, so moved on to summer onions,(sturon) which seem to do much better for me (when they're not being stolen). However other people on my site do rather well with autumn onions so I think it's just me! One day, when I have more space I think I'll try again with a mixture like you do.
    Glad to hear you've got a better result this year.

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    1. I think one key to success is to plant early so they can get some growing in before winter then its a case of how lucky are you with the weather!

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    2. Yes I think you're probably right there....next time I'll try and get in earlier ( and cross my fingers for the weather!)

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