Planting onion sets

Onions are voracious eaters and require quite a bit of nutrition to grow to a nice size.

Mammoth onion from last year. This reached a size of just over 1 kg.

Mammoth onion from last year. This reached a size of just over 1 kg.

Planting from sets (which is a small onion really that was stopped from growing any larger) makes planting easier and also reduces the growing time slightly.

To prepare the garden bed for the onion sets, I first turned over the soil. Last year I had peas in this bed so a rotation to onions is perfect as the peas would have fixed nitrogen into the soil when they grew. In addition, I added a layer of horse manure and then turned over the bed again.

Turned the soil in the bed we had snow peas in last year

Turned the soil in the bed we had snow peas in last year

I added some horse manure to feed the soil again

I added some horse manure to feed the soil again

The two varieties I am planting are the all purpose “Stuttgart ” yellow onion and the white “snowball” onion. Approximately 100 or so were planted into this 2x2m garden bed.

Stuttgart onions (yellow) and Snowball onions (white)

Stuttgart onions (yellow) and Snowball onions (white)

As you can see, planting onion sets means pushing them only slightly into the soil. Onions grow on or above the soil (unlike their garlic cousins) which is important as without air circulation around the bulb they can easily begin to rot.

Onions sown in the newly prepared bed

Onions sown in the newly prepared bed

I plant the onion sets fairly densely as the soil is quite nutritious and I don’t want massive onions. I would rather have onions that are the right size for one mealtime.

I will keep you updated on how they grow but hopefully they will form nice onions.

A nice red onion from last year

A nice red onion from last year showing how two leaves are growing in the same direction, indicating that the bulb will split

Fact:
Onions can only get a maximum of 13 live leaves and mostly never that many. The leaves grow in alternate directions, so if you see two leaves in the growing center of the onion growing the same way, it means that the bulb will split and form two onions.
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

Tip:

  • Onion is a natural insecticide. A lot of insects don’t like them, so planting them close to other vegetable may help keep ants, aphids and carrot flies away.
  • Onion may also be welcomed if you have other animals in your area you would like to keep out of your garden, such as deer and rabbits to name a few.
  • When rotating the crop, we normally plant onions in soil that had legumes the previous year.

Involve your kids:
Most kids will likely enjoy to help turning the soil in the beds. If you get them gardening tools that is suited to their size, they can easily help dig the soil.
Onions are easy to plant and kids can easily help put them into the ground. If you are using manure you should have the kids wear gloves of make sure they keep a good hand hygiene when helping.

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