TopVeg – growing veg,fruit&herbs

November 8, 2011

Planting Autumn Onion Sets

Filed under: root veg — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 7:52 am

Shakespeare is a good variety of onion to plant as sets in the autumn.

shakespear autumn planting

shakespear autumn planting

Onion sets are very small bulbs which will grow into mature onions.  Onion  sets are often planted instead of onion seeds as they are thought to produce bigger onions.

Shakespeare - this variety of onion has:

  • dark brown skins
  • excellent skin quality
  • good sized bulbs
  • stores well
  • harvest from early July
  • over winters well
Planting site:  Firm, well drained soil in full sun.  Do not apply farm yard manure to the soil before planting onions.   Onion sets grow well in raised beds, in fact they prefer this to wet ground.


Planting method:  Plant the sets so that the tip of bulb is just protruding through the soil surface.
Plant in rows with a space of 10cm (4”) between each bulb, and 30cm (12”) between each row.
onion rows marked out

onion rows marked out

Shakespeare onions  are an autumn planting set.

September 29, 2010

Hessian Sacks Decorate Harvest Festival

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — TopVeg @ 9:28 pm

TopVeg received an SOS for Hessian Sacks needed to decorate for the Harvest Festival. The problem was they were ordered at 6am on Tuesday, (must have had a planning meeting on Monday night!) with a note saying:
‘As these are for our harvest festival at the weekend, I wonder if you would kindly send them as soon as possible, as ideally would like to set up on Friday. ‘

TopVeg packed the sacks and sent them with the morning post, & they arrived  today, Wednesday, the very next day.

The purchaser kindly sent this note:  ‘Thank you so much, received today.

I really appreciate speedy turn around from TopVeg’


Click this link to buy some Hessian Sacks.

TopVeg Hessian Sacks have been used for sports day and the school play.  They are ideal for storing potatoes and onions as they allow the vegetables to breathe, and keep the light out.  Using TopVeg Hessian Sacks to decorate for Harvest Festival is a first as far as we know. 

November 12, 2009

How to Pickle Onions

Filed under: root veg — Tags: , , , — TopVeg @ 1:37 pm

The main thing you need to pickle onions is plenty of time, otherwise it is quite straightforward!



  • most people use shallots for pickled onions
  • make a brine solution by dissolving 8oz of salt in 4 pints of water
  • skin the onions – using a stainless steel or silver knife – as they will discolour
  • cover the onions in a cold brine solution for at least 24 hours.  Place a dish over the top of the onions to make sure they are covered with brine.  The brine draws the water out of the onions & makes them crispy.
  • drain the onions from the brine
  • fill a clean, sterilised jar with onions & cover with spiced pickling vinegar


The spiced pickling vinegar can be of any flavour & it is worth trying a few different ones.

It is possible to buy spiced pickling vinegar, or you can make your own using a different vinegar (cider, wine, raspberry vinegar etc) & add your own combination of spices.  Pre-mixed pickling spices can be found in supermarkets, or you can add your own combination of chillies, ginger, pepper, mustard seeds etc..



It is very easy to pickle onions, just time consuming!  But a jar of home-made pickled onions is a treat – or an excellent gift or  Christmas present.

August 26, 2009

Harvesting Red Onions

Filed under: root veg — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 8:02 am

The red onions have been harvested because the leaves were flopping over and the soil was very wet.



The onions have been spread out in an open slatted box and left to dry in a very airy place. More information on harvesting onions and when to harvest onions can be found by clicking the link

July 26, 2009

Onion white rot

Filed under: pests&diseases — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 8:08 am

Onion white rot (Latin name – Sclerotium cepivorum) affects onions, spring onions, leeks, & chives.

Symptoms of onion white rot:

    * plants die
    * onion leaves wilt & collapse
    * bulbs rot at the base and are covered with a fluffy white mould.



Cause of onion white rot

    * a fungus
    * spreads from plant to plant by contact between roots and bulbs
    * can live in the soil for up to 15 years
    * very difficult to eradicate from the soil

Prevention of Onion white rot

    * rotate onion family so only grow every three or four years
    * do not grow onion family in soil contaminated with onion white rot

Onion Fly

Filed under: pests&diseases — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 8:03 am


Gornalwwfc was watching a TopVeg video on YouTube  & asked this question about
onion fly:

    does anyone have any ideas or ways of dealing with *onion fly* my
    allotment plot (near Dudley)is rife with it the onions leeks and
    even garlic plants are all affected and none of the shops I’ve been
    to sell any kind of spray


This is the reply from TopVeg:

Hi Gornalwwfc
Bad luck – onion fly is a real problem.

Once you see the damage, the flies have laid the eggs, & the maggots have hatched out & are doing the damage.

    * Lift and destroy plants effected – making sure there are no maggots left on the soil.

    * Onion flies are attracted by the smell of fresh manure, so don’t  plant your onions, leeks and garlic on freshly manured soil.

    * Some garden centres sell chemicals to treat the soil where onion  fly maggots are a problem.

Onion Fly (Latin name -Delia antiqua) is a serious pest of onions, leeks and garlic.

June 9, 2009

Botrytis Neck Rot in Onions.

Filed under: pests&diseases — Tags: , , , — TopVeg @ 1:48 pm

Onions must be checked for Neck Rot (latin name – Botrytis allii, B. squamosa and B. cinerea) once they have been lifted, because it destroys onion bulbs in storage.



White onion varieties are more susceptible to onion neck rot, but red and yellow varieties
may suffer. Garlic, shallots, chives, and leeks are also affected by neck rot.

April 26, 2009

Botrytis Neck Rot in Onions.

Filed under: root veg — Tags: , — TopVeg @ 12:44 pm

Onions must be checked for Neck Rot (latin name – Botrytis allii, B. squamosa and B. cinerea) once they have been lifted, because it destroys onion bulbs in storage.



White onion varieties are more susceptible, but red and yellow varieties may suffer. Garlic, shallots, chives, and leeks are also affected by neck rot.

March 28, 2009

Plant Onion Sets

Filed under: root veg — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 10:44 pm

Onion sets are immature onion bulbs specially grown for planting.



Gardeners prefer to grow sets, rather than onion seeds, because sets are:

    * quick maturing
    * less prone to disease
    * able to grow in a rougher seedbed
    * happy in most sorts of soil
    * more suitable for later springs in the North

But, sets used to have a tendency to ‘bolt’.

Bolting means they go to seed, that is, instead of producing a nice big onion, they put all their energy into producing a seed head.

Modern sets are heat treated to destroy the internal flower bud, & stop bolting.


    * Prepare the bed by digging over & raking flat. Mix in some well rotted compost, farm mix manure into seedbedyard manure or general fertiliser.
    * Place the measuring stick on the row, and plant the sets every 10cm, leaving 23 cm between the rows



    * Push the sets into the soft earth, & bring the earth back around them, leaving just the tip showing



    * Watch for birds, as they like to pull the tips, so that the sets are pulled out of the ground. If the birds start to do this, cover the sets with netting, string or cotton, to keep the birds off       until the sets have grown good roots.  Gently press the onion sets down for the first few weeks after planting, in case they have  been disturbed.

July 28, 2008

Onion Flowers

Filed under: root veg — Tags: , , — TopVeg @ 3:25 pm

Snap off onion flowers as soon as they appear. If the plants flower, the
onions will become woody and unusable.



If the onion flowers in it’s first year it is said to ‘bolt’. Instead of
producing the onion bulb desired, the plant ‘bolts’ into maturity,
flowers, & produces seed during the summer instead of the normal root.

Mark which onions started to bolt (with a lolly stick, or anything
handy) and use these first as they won’t store well.

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