A recent YouGov survey revealed onions are one of the most popular vegetables used in our kitchens, just below potatoes and carrots. It doesn’t come as a surprise, they are extremely nutritious and pack lots of vitamins, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories… not to mention they are simply delicious!
Onions are a staple food in cuisines all over the world and for good reason; they can be baked, boiled, fried, sautéed and even eaten raw. What’s best is they can be grown by the most unassuming gardener. Simply plant your sets in the autumn and let nature do its thing. They require lots of water but infrequently which forces their roots to dig deep in search for water, in turn making them very tolerant to drought.
What Variety To Grow?
One of our favourite onions for planting now is Senshyu - an original Japanese overwintering variety. Their success has been proven for many years, yielding semi-flat bulbs with straw-coloured yellow skins that are ready for harvest in early July.
Senshyu was bred specifically in the 1970’s in Japan so growers could gain the highest yields when overwintering onion crops.
Plant them in September and watch them grow to about 6 - 8 inches tall before winter slowly sets in. They will stay that way, frozen in time like disciplined soldiers standing on parade awaiting the warmth that springtime brings where they will continue their journey upwards.
When to harvest?
By the time spring is here they’ve already had a great head start and are not affected by the plethora of pests that are attacking your young leafy plants! Don’t water after May and they’ll tell you when they’re ready for harvest by July when they brown off and droop over.
A handy trick is to grab the stalks and pull them out after a period of rain when the ground is soft otherwise you could be pulling your back rather than those onions! Alternatively, carefully use a fork to break the soil.
Senshyu store relatively well but by this time of the year any previous onion harvest will surely have been eaten up. One might imagine you’ll be getting these in the kitchen straight away! Spring planted onions tend to last longer in storage so make sure you leave some space to plant them too!
All in all, Japanese Onion Senshyu is an excellent choice for all levels of gardeners alike. Not only do they taste great because you've grown them yourself, they taste even better because they work out a fraction of the cost of supermarket bought onions!