The red onions on the Chef’s plot are showing a bit of growth.
The birds have been busy pulling the onion sets out of the row, but the Chef has pushed them back in. The birds will not be able to pull them out now that they have started to grow, as the roots will be developing in the soil and will act as an anchor.
The Chef dug up his lawn to make way for a vegetable garden. Now the red onions are showing growth his veggie patch is on the way.
The Chef is checking his onions daily to make sure that they are still in the ground. Until the roots take hold, birds can pull them out of the ground.
So in the first few weeks after planting the onions should be checked every day and pushed back into the soil if the birds have moved them.
The craze for growing mammoth onions continues. In fact the size of the ‘biggest’onion is increasing.
In 1975, the world’s heaviest onion weighed 4lb 15oz. The record onion in 2010 is 16lb 8oz!!
William Robinson started the craze 100 years ago when he began developing giant vegetables on his father’s nursery. He prefixed all his large vegetables with ‘Mammoth’. Onions were one example of his mammoth veg. The seed company grew and W Robinson & Son still sell the mammoth seeds, including onions, all over the world.
When the onion foliage bends over and turns yellowy, it is almost time to harvest onions. Leave them for two weeks, and then pull them on a dry day.
The bulbs must be mature if the harvested onions are going to be stored. Leave the pulled onions to dry and ripen
The skin of the onion will turn shiny as it ripens, then it will be fit to store.
If the weather is set fair the onions can be left outside to dry and ripen:
- lifted up so that the air can circulate round them, such as tied to the washing line or sat on netting
If it is a damp time, it is safer to move the onions under cover, where they can be hung up in an airy, dry place.
Onions can be stored in a cool shed or garage. The conditions necessary for onion storage are:
- good air circulation
- cool temperature
- dry air
Store onions in:
- hessian sacks
- plaits – using their foliage to make the plaits, then hang the onion ropes up
Onions with thick, fleshy necks will not keep & should be eaten first and not stored.
If onions are not completely dry when they are put into storage there is a risk that they will develop neck rot. This is when a fungus starts to develop around the neck area and gradually rots the onion from the neck down. Onions must be checked for Neck Rot (latin name – Botrytis allii, B. squamosa and B. cinerea) regularly in storage, & removed, because the rotting onions will destroy other onion bulbs in storage.
White onion varieties are more susceptible to neck rot, but red and yellow varieties may suffer. Garlic, shallots, chives, and leeks are also affected by neck rot.
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.
Farming Friends & TopVeg have collaborated to create a How To Grow Onions growing card.
The card may be downloaded, printed off and pinned to the potting shed wall as a useful reference on how to grow onions.
If you would like a pdf of the grow card for “How to Grow Onions”, please complete the contact form asking for the grow card for onions and we will email it to you.
Preparing soil for onions
The time to dig the garden has changed. Recently we have had wetter
autumns. So the garden is often very wet in November and too wet to dig.
The soil structure is damaged, if it is paddled (stood on) when wet. Now
we dig just after Christmas to prepare for onion sets.
When the onion foliage bends over and turns yellowy, it is almost time to
harvest onions. Leave them for two weeks, and then pull them on a dry
The bulbs must be mature if the harvested onions are going to be stored.
Leave the mature onions to dry and ripen, so that the skin becomes
shiny, before they are stored.
Click the link for more information on when to harvest onions.
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 are attempting to flower by starting to bolt (with a lolly stick, or anything
handy) and use these first as they won’t store well.
When the onion foliage bends over and turns yellowy, it is time to harvest onions.
Click this link to find out how to harvest & store onions.