Know Your Onions!
Onions are one of the easiest vegetables to grow and require very little attention. In dry weather they do need to be watered. Lots of water occasionally rather than small amounts often is the best way to water onions. This will ensure they send out deep roots that will not dry out in dry weather.
Mark out your rows with a bamboo cane or string to keep them in a straight line. Every 10cm make a small hole in the soil with your finger and place an onion set into it. Plant your rows 30 cm apart. Gather some soil around the onion sets so that their tops appear just above the surface. Gently firm the soil down around the tops of the onions.
For the first few weeks birds and squirrels may be a problem for your onion sets, plucking them from the soil. A good way to avoid this is to spread some horticultural fleece over the soil surface and secure it some with soil or stones. Nets are also very effective. This cover can be removed after a month once the sets have sprouted.
Harvest around the beginning of July. The foliage will let you know when it is ready for harvest as it will wither and yellow. Lift the onions carefully with a fork, as so not to damage them. Leave them out for 7 - 10 days to cure. The tunics will tighten around the bulbs. Do no remove this as it will protect your onions from disease during storage.
Once your onions have dried they can be stored for the winter months ahead. The single most important factor is humidity; onions will rot if left in a humid area, but will dry out in an airing cupboard. Whole onions and shallots are best stored in a cool, dry, dark and well-ventilated room. Ideal places include the pantry, cellar, basement or garage.
- Stuttgarter - The most well known onion grown ever. Onion 'Stuttgarter' produces reliable and consistent yields. It is also one of the longest storing onions available today.
- Sturon - A traditional variety that is the grandfather of many newer types. It doesn't yield the largest onions but what it lacks in size more than makes up for in quality and taste!
- Jet Set F1 - A recent hybrid introduction which has been bred for maturing earlier than most. If you want to rotate your bed as soon as possible then this is the variety for you. Great for overwintering too and is a consistent grower.
- Red Karmen - Red onions don't store as well as the yellow varieties but this one bucks the trend. This is the variety that you might find at your local supermarket.