Onions and shallots are essential vegetables. Commonly grown with a yellow, white or brown skin and white flesh, you can always turn to the red-skinned and red-flesh alternatives to mix thing
s up in the kitchen. Shallots bulbs are generally smaller than onions, with a more distinct flavour and can be used for pickling as well as cooking.
Onions and shallots need cold weather to get going, so autumn is the time to start thinking about planting so you can enjoy a wonderful harvest in spring.
Members of the onion family are perfect for winter growing as they can tolerate temperatures below freezing. If you're growing outdoors in raised beds or borders we recommend using a Plant Protection Frost Fleece Cover when temperatures drop below -5°C.
Pots or planters with a minimum of 6 inches soil depth are perfect for growing your onions in. If temperatures drop rapidly, then your pots can be easily moved indoors to avoid frost damage to your crops.
If you’ve already got a Quadgrow Planter or fancy treating yourself to a Salad & Veg planter then spring onions will grow perfectly as spring onions don’t require much depth to grow, and you can grow them in a greenhouse, polytunnel or conservatory provided that it’s frost free, especially when we get deeper into winter.
Start by choosing an open spot that has well-drained soil and gets plenty of sunlight. Crops can be prone to disease if there is high humidity around the foliage and if the soil is wet. If the soil is too acidic (below pH 6.5) the onions will not thrive, but you can reduce acidity by applying lime.
We have a great selection of soil testing kits Soil Testing Kits, which are perfect for identifying the acidity of soil.
It's also a great idea to prepare the soil by adding a bucketful of well-rotted organic matter. Garden compost every square yard should be enough for good preparation and this will help add nutrients, improve the soil structure and hold moisture. Avoid using fresh manure.
To plant onions in the autumn/winter you will need to use sets, which are small one-year-old onions that will swell to full size in time for harvesting.
Growing onions from sets is generally easier and you will find that the crop will mature earlier. A larger bulb is formed from onion sets, where as a clump of bulbs is formed from a shallot set.
You should plant onions straight into their final growing position. This is typically in the ground, large pots or a planter with a minimum of 6 inches of soil depth. Our Quadgrow Planter or Salad & Veg Planter would be ideal for this.
Split the bulb into individual cloves and plant them upright 1-4 inches deep. Make sure that the basal plate is facing downwards (the basal plate is found on the underside of the onion) with the necks pointing upwards. Deeper planting is preferable on light soils. Leave 7 inches between cloves and space the rows 12 inches apart. Finally, cover over with soil so that the neck is just below the surface.
It is interesting to note that closer spacing can result in large numbers of small bulbs, whereas wider spacing can produce a smaller number of large bulbs.
As your onions start to push up and form roots, watch out for foraging birds feasting on your onions and pop them back into the ground after making a hole with a trowel and firm them gently. If birds and pests become a continuing problem protect your onions with some Mesh Netting.
We also recommend to keep an eye on weeds. Hand weed accordingly as crops can be easily swamped by weeds, negatively affecting the plants’ growth and subsequent yields. We all know that weeding can be quite an uncomfortable task, so investing in our handy Gardener's Tool Stool could save you a sore back!
Our Gardening Angels are here to help you win the war on pests! Please do not hesitate to get in touch with any questions on 0845 602 3774 or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're always happy to help!