Friday, October 7

Planting cycles.

A few days ago I spent two days tidying up the onions and shallots that had been drying in our greenhouses - not ideal places to dry onions but with rain forecast (which didn’t really materialise), we didn’t have anywhere else where we could spread them to mature before preparing for storage.

Anyway ideal or not what remained of the foliage had dried out and the outer skins of the onions had loosened so I set to removing all the loose foliage, snipping off the roots with a pair of scissors and trimming the tops. As each of the onions completed their beauty treatment they were graded into ones which had started to rot and needed throwing away, ones that were a little soft in places and needed using reasonably first and those that hopefully would store.

The bulbs were then arranged in those boxes that supermarkets use to transport fruit. The boxes were then laid out in a single layer in the garden greenhouse. This way the air can circulate and also any onions that start to rot should be easily spotted. If things go according to plan they should keep us well supplied.
After all that, you would think that I had seen enough onions for a while but no! Immediately after I’d finished with this year’s harvest, the over-wintering onion sets arrived. We’d ordered four varieties, Electric (a red variety), Shakespeare,  Senshyu Yellow and Autumn Champion. We are sharing the sets with a friend so we are each planting four different varieties instead of the usual two.
As the sets had arrived we decided we ought to get them planted. The bed earmarked for them had a few small weeds so these were turned over using our mini tiller. 

Onion sets are notorious for jumping out of the soil. Birds are usually blamed for this but to be honest I’m not sure. I could understand that the birds may see the tiny dry neck of the onion set as possible nesting material in spring time but why would they bother pulling at a tiny bit of dry material at this time of year when they have more pressing needs - like food and water. I can’t imagine that any bird thinks of onions as a possible food source! I think it is more likely that if the onion sets are pushed into the soil that this creates a more solid area directly under the set. Then as the roots start to develop the set is pushed up out of the ground. 

So with this in mind, to plant the sets I dragged out four shallow trenches, one for each variety. A row of onion sets was placed in each trench and the soil pulled back into the trench just so a tiny bit of the set was peeking out.
The soil was like dust and so if we don’t get any rain within the next few days we’ll have to water. 

Our garlic arrived at the same time so will need planting soon but that’s for another post!


  1. You could make a layered beetroot & potato bake. No earthy beetroot taste here! It's fantastic. You can find the recipe on my blog.

    There's also a stunning chocolate and beetroot muffin recipe from Stephanie Alexander. It's divine.

  2. Veg gardening certainly demands a certain discipline! There are so many tasks to do, and you are always having to think ahead. If I had more space, I think I might grow onions, becasue they are something we use all the time in our cooking.

  3. Your onions look good. Mine are in need of beautifying after their drying off. I've haven't grown red onions before but I might do so next year.

  4. I'll have a look at that VG thanks

    We use lots too Mark

    I really like red onions, Jo

  5. I tried overwintering onions last year but didn't have much luck with them so i don't think I will do it this year.....Interesting to see if your new method keeps them under the soil. If they are going to be there all winter will they really need watering??

  6. It was more a case of watering them so they didn't just sit in dust and had a chance to put down some roots, Tanya. We should be OK though as it has rained since we planted them

  7. Lovely looking onions Sue. I have been umming and procrastinating about over-wintering onions, but decided not to grow them in the end, as I will want the space for other things next year. But every time I read about someone planting theirs, I almost change my mind...

  8. We've grown winter onions for years Janet so it's now just a habit but a good one. When we started growing them they were always referred to as Japanese onions.


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