Almost onion planting time 2016

It's that time of year again, where I'm thinking onions, and lots of them !

Now you may have read my previous onion sowing post, or harvesting post

If so, you'll know how I go about this. I take a fresh area, where onions haven't grown in the past four years, layer newspaper on top of the soil, dampen them and use fresh compost for growing this years crop in. 

This year's crop will be grown in an organic peat free compost, recommended by a twitter friend, Nicky Kyle who blogs here, and is well worth a read. Now I am quite excited by this and interested to see the results. As always with my onion sets compost composts, I'll mix in some bagged sieved topsoil and a dressing of fish, blood and bone meal.

First things first though. 

Before the bed is prepared or before the newspaper is laid I'm planting the sets into some compost and leaving them in a protected area in order to get them going first. 

Why do this? Well, the answer is simple. Onions, if they are planted outdoors to early and then checked by cold weather, may run to seed or not grow to their optimum. In order to counter this. I'm going to get them going just a little earlier under cover, then harden them off, so when they are planted, they'll have had a head start. Of course I don't want them growing too softly under cover either, as this may lead to getting them checked too !

The variety I've chosen is one called 'Centurion', and from what I've read, it has has a great flavour, a good yield and stores well. Sets planted now will be ready to harvest in late summer, and to add to this they are apparently quite good in poor weather. Let's test this out shall we?   

When growing from sets, do obtain them from a reputable supplier, and if you notice any of the little individual sets have any disease or look damaged, avoid planting these. What you don't want is a disease called white rot, which, once it gets into your soil, can take quite some time before you can plant onions there again. In my last house, which had a small garden, I used to plant these in a mixture of containers, using fresh compost every year

So, as these guys get going and produce their early shoots over the next week or so, I'll get busy preparing the planting area to receive them. I might see if I can acquire some fleece too to protect them in their early outdoor stages.

Have you grown onions before? If not do try them. They are particularly easy from sets, and whether you're growing in restricted space in containers or have a larger space you can convert, you'll have great satisfaction from growing these. If you don't want to bother with the fuss of starting them earlier, or covering them with fleece once planted, just wait another month until the soil warms up and cold nights will have all but disappeared.

And, here is nothing like the joy of tasting your own home-grown produce!

Happy gardening.