Tuesday, October 16

We are hoping there will be lots of tears.

A strange thing to say isn't it - hoping for tears? Certainly not the sad kind though - we can all do without them. The tears being referred to are the kind you suffer when dealing with onions. Wearing contact lenses seems to give me some protection but Martyn is often to be seen making a swift exit from the kitchen with eyes squeezed tightly shut and tears streaming down his face.

Regular visitors may be aware that our summer onion crop was a very poor. I know many of you had similar experiences. Fortunately last year's autumn planted onions did well and we are still  using them.

At the weekend we planted this year's over-wintering onions. Again regular visitors will be aware of our experiments with weed control fabric. Onions can be a problem to keep weed free so we had decided to try using the fabric on the onion bed.

The bed for the onions had earlier been cleared and gently tilled. As the soil was very wet we didn't want to work it too much. Fish, blood and bonemeal was applied and the fabric laid out in readiness for the onion sets to arrive.

We decided to cut the fabric in a similar way to that used for the carrots so long cuts were made along the green lines of the fabric. The cuts didn't continue across the whole length as that would have made the fabric more flimsy so instead the cut lines formed sort of pockets. The fabric has been set into the soil down the edges and weighted down with long pieces of wood and old bricks.

We bought three types of onion sets, Troy and Senshyu - yellow and Red Cross which believe it or not is a red onion. We have ended up with twice as many sets as last year so hopefully this will allow plenty of scope for losses if the experiment isn't a success.

The sets were planted along the slits - probably slightly closer together this year as hopefully we don't have to allow for being able to weed along the rows. As well as keeping the weeds down the fabric should - being black - warm the soil a little.
Hopefully as the onions grow the fabric will be pushed aside. 

The onion bed has been shared with garlic but I'll leave that until another post.

Like any experiment it may end in tears of the wrong sort and either way you will be the first to hear about it!

20 comments:

  1. Hopefully your experiment will bring you tears of joy! I have never tried growing winter onions here. Maybe I should since it seems like I only have a good onion crop every other year.

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    1. It's worth a try Robin but you need to bear in mind that you don't harvest them 'til early summer (it was July when we harvested ours this year) although we do pick some early to use straight away.

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  2. I always say if you don't try you never know! I wear contacts too and completely agree that they seem to offer protection when cutting onions - if I wear my glasses it's a different matter entirely!

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    1. One advantage of having poor eyesight SKG

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  3. I think it'll work given your success with the fabric with other crops this year. I always have a metal teaspoon in my mouth when chopping onions, it seems to work, I don't know why.

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    1. Just wondering how the onions will push through, Jo as we won't want them to grow under the fabric - we may have to give nature a hand!

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  4. Well I don't see why this shouldn't work great for you. I still need to get my garlic for planting. Are winter onions different to the ones you set in summer??

    Onions never bother my eyes very much but the last ones that I cut at home everyone else complained whole heartedly about and they weren't even near me!!

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    1. Ones suitable for over wintering are different varieties, Tanya and are supposed to not keep as well as the summer grown ones - although another blogger ( sorry can't remember who it was) said his keep OK

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  5. This is an interesting post and I hope your overwintered onions work for you! I planted a small bed of onion seedlings very late this summer and they only grew to set size, so I've left them in to overwinter to see what they do too.

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    1. We usually manage OK with overwintered onions Nutmeg but have never tried with weed control fabric before.

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  6. OK, so there are tears in the fabric as well as tears in the kitchen... (This has to be said aloud).

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  7. Sounds like a good way to grow onions. I hope it works well.

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  8. I can't see why it shouldn't work - and as onions are so difficult to weed it can only be a good thing to experiment with the fabric.

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    1. The only concern I have, Elaine is if the bulbs stay under the fabric they could get too wet and rot.

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  9. I'm the same as you my autumn planted onions did much better than the summer ones, they were a disaster.
    Sounds a great way to cut down on weeding.

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    1. I don't think it has been a particularly successful onion year all round, Annie - let's hope next year is bertter

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  10. Looks a tidy and practical way to do this, Sue. Your blog title did make me smile - wishing you an emotional harvest ;-)

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    1. Have to think of something to attract attention Shirl, must admit it gets more and more difficult to think of titles as you end up having used up most ideas.

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