Onions and how to grow them.

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jambop

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Onions and how to grow them.
« on: February 10, 2020, 08:38 »
I have been growing onions for many years from seed and sets... I prefer seed grow. However if you were new to growing them and were looking for advice on the net... what confusion would you meet. I was trying to get a definitive on the subject of ground preparation so did a google search. Below are two of the results one exactly below the other on the list.
old farmers almanac says
 Soil needs to be well-drained, loose, and rich in nitrogen; compacted, rocky, or clay-heavy soil affects bulb development. Add aged manure or compost to the soil in early spring, before planting. Onion plants are heavy feeders and need constant nourishment to produce big bulbs.


BBC says
A sunny, well-drained site is essential for growing good crops of onion and garlic. ... Onions and garlic both like fertile soil, but neither require much nitrogen and so shouldn't be grown on freshly manured soil. Instead, dig over and manure the ground several months before planting.

So the take home message here is? One other interesting feature was that both recommended growing from sets for ease and reliability of product, personally I have found that seed grow onions are much better and rarely if ever go to seed whereas I have had loads of bolted onions from sets one reason why I stopped using them??

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mumofstig

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Re: Onions and how to grow them.
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2020, 10:21 »
John's advice is here https://www.allotment-garden.org/vegetable/onions-growing/

For spring planting sets are undoubtedly easier to grow, but I agree growing from seeds gives better results.
Overwintering ones, I think, are better from sets IMO.
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MrsPea

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Re: Onions and how to grow them.
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2020, 14:20 »
 Onion plants are heavy feeders and need constant nourishment to produce big bulbs.
So once you've planted them what do you feed them after they've sprouted ?? mine last year was very poor i put it down to the weather being to hot
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Mr Dog

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Re: Onions and how to grow them.
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2020, 14:49 »
And if you look for onion fertiliser you find differences in NPK ratios with different manufacturers.

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yorky

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Re: Onions and how to grow them.
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2020, 15:15 »
As someone who for many years used to show onions, I think that one of the common mistakes is that people think that any variety of onion can be grown into a giant. It doesn't matter how much you feed, or how early you sow the seeds, variety's bred for the kitchen will only achieve a certain size.
The other common mistake is to sow them too early. Unless you are growing giants for a show leave the Boxing day sowings for the people with heat and growlights. For normal kitchen onions a sowing in March is plenty early enough.
Sets a low standard and fails to achieve it.

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rowlandwells

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Re: Onions and how to grow them.
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2020, 16:19 »
interesting topic because we usually grow both sets and seed the autumn sown Japanese sets did quite well as did the Japanese seed raised variety [Element] both raised in a cold greenhouse planted out in spring last year

as for our spring sowing sets we usually grow Turbo and red baron both crop well with medium size onions this season I'm going to try growing the following seed Globo Hybound [pelleted]  sweet Spanish  DT Browns exhibition and Robinson's mammoth trial sets centurion and also keeping with Turbo

we are sowing  our seed onions in  raised beds this year then plant out in a bed either in a raised bed or an open bed there  will be in a plot dedicated to onions only with a helping of NPK fertilizer  prior to planting then within the growing season they will be top dressed with a nitrogen based fertilizer

I am also looking at growing sets and plants in a ground cover system planted at the recommended spacings
that will offer both weed control in a breathable material that I can still feed the crops also looking at trials of a balanced liquid organic feed for one plot and normal nitrogen feed for the other plot

quite a lengthy reply but i like to tell folks how i do things then up to them if they want to follow what i do
or not hope this reply mite help you decide what to do for your onions anyway good luck with your onion crops

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mumofstig

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Re: Onions and how to grow them.
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2020, 20:50 »
As someone who for many years used to show onions, I think that one of the common mistakes is that people think that any variety of onion can be grown into a giant. It doesn't matter how much you feed, or how early you sow the seeds, variety's bred for the kitchen will only achieve a certain size.
The other common mistake is to sow them too early. Unless you are growing giants for a show leave the Boxing day sowings for the people with heat and growlights. For normal kitchen onions a sowing in March is plenty early enough.
I often grow a Spanish type of onion and Long Red Florence and find that the only way I can get them to grow to full size is to sow them end of Jan/early Feb so that by the time they're planted they are 'small leek' size.
I guess you have to find what works best for you and the varieties you want to grow ;)

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jambop

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Re: Onions and how to grow them.
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2020, 22:10 »
As someone who for many years used to show onions, I think that one of the common mistakes is that people think that any variety of onion can be grown into a giant. It doesn't matter how much you feed, or how early you sow the seeds, variety's bred for the kitchen will only achieve a certain size.
The other common mistake is to sow them too early. Unless you are growing giants for a show leave the Boxing day sowings for the people with heat and growlights. For normal kitchen onions a sowing in March is plenty early enough.
I often grow a Spanish type of onion and Long Red Florence and find that the only way I can get them to grow to full size is to sow them end of Jan/early Feb so that by the time they're planted they are 'small leek' size.
I guess you have to find what works best for you and the varieties you want to grow ;)

To be fair I think you have got two varieties that may not be well adapted to British growing conditions. I grow Long Florence and get huge, 60-75mm dia I did not think they would be that big, onions by early July from a mid February sowing. They are a good onions but sadly do not store well I used them as an onion for use throughout the growing season because of this but I always have a few that I will store until perhaps Christmas.

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rowlandwells

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Re: Onions and how to grow them.
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2020, 08:59 »
I have to say the onions we harvested last year have kept well and we are still using them my wife always puts them on a string the old fashioned way  I think Turbo is a good variety for our ground

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New shoot

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Re: Onions and how to grow them.
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2020, 09:13 »
I don't grow basic kitchen onions as I don't have room.  If I did, I would do a main crop sowing in March.  I do grow big sweet onions like MoS and my first lot were sown on Boxing Day. 

I am not a show grower, but I do have a grow light, not that they get much time under it.  Just a few weeks through January when light levels are low.  It is not necessary as you can make do with a cool, bright windowsill, then an unheated greenhouse, but I have it, so I use it.  I used the last of my crop a week or so ago.  I save them for dishes where onions are a feature and look forward to them every year  :) 

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Silva

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Re: Onions and how to grow them.
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2020, 20:27 »
As someone who for many years used to show onions, I think that one of the common mistakes is that people think that any variety of onion can be grown into a giant. It doesn't matter how much you feed, or how early you sow the seeds, variety's bred for the kitchen will only achieve a certain size.
The other common mistake is to sow them too early. Unless you are growing giants for a show leave the Boxing day sowings for the people with heat and growlights. For normal kitchen onions a sowing in March is plenty early enough.

Ah how I wish I had seen this before sowing my seeds in early January ...now I have floppy, sun-deprived seedlings that won't stand up straight! At least I hedged my bets by planting sets in Autumn, as I can't see myself getting round to another sowing what with everything else on my windowsills/in my cold frame! A proportion of my sets do tend to bolt (as is there wont) but I should still get a few usable ones :)

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jambop

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Re: Onions and how to grow them.
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2020, 08:57 »
The more internet research you do the cloudier the picture becomes . For example I have just read on one site that an open free draining well manured soil is required only to read exactly below that on the next site that onions prefer a well firmed soil that has not been recently manured ?? One site states that onions do not like acidic soil and require a pH of about 6.5 ... then next site ? Onions thrive in a slightly acid soil and require a pH of about 5.5    Now being for a scientific background both these pH values are only just acidic but one is ten times more acidic that the other  :lol:

I have come to the conclusion that growing veg for the average Joe in their garden has to be more simple than is being made out :lol:

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New shoot

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Re: Onions and how to grow them.
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2020, 08:59 »
Ah how I wish I had seen this before sowing my seeds in early January ...now I have floppy, sun-deprived seedlings that won't stand up straight!

What kind are you growing?  I have Globo, which is a large sweet onion that needs to be sown early.  They are little floppy, but that is just how they are in their early weeks.  They have not been light deprived at all.  It is also important that you give them enough room.  Mine were germinated in a small seed tray, but are now in their own small modules.  I feed every couple of weeks with a liquid feed.  At the moment this is Baby Bio as they are inside and that is what the houseplants get.  Despite appearances, I know they will slowly bulk up and do well in the end  :) 

If you are growing just normal sized onions, a good trick is to sow a few seeds in a module and plant them out as a clump.  They push each other out of the way and you get a bunch of smaller, but perfectly good, kitchen onions.   That would save you some space, if you go for a later sowing.

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New shoot

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Re: Onions and how to grow them.
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2020, 09:10 »
I have come to the conclusion that growing veg for the average Joe in their garden has to be more simple than is being made out :lol:

I think you are quite right there  :lol:  We are not growing to meet a supermarket standard or for giant veg.  We are growing to eat well on our own homegrown veg, be it perfectly formed or with its own individual character a.k.a. wonky veg  :lol:

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Silva

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Re: Onions and how to grow them.
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2020, 10:27 »
Ah how I wish I had seen this before sowing my seeds in early January ...now I have floppy, sun-deprived seedlings that won't stand up straight!

What kind are you growing?  I have Globo, which is a large sweet onion that needs to be sown early.  They are little floppy, but that is just how they are in their early weeks.  They have not been light deprived at all.  It is also important that you give them enough room.  Mine were germinated in a small seed tray, but are now in their own small modules.  I feed every couple of weeks with a liquid feed.  At the moment this is Baby Bio as they are inside and that is what the houseplants get.  Despite appearances, I know they will slowly bulk up and do well in the end  :) 

If you are growing just normal sized onions, a good trick is to sow a few seeds in a module and plant them out as a clump.  They push each other out of the way and you get a bunch of smaller, but perfectly good, kitchen onions.   That would save you some space, if you go for a later sowing.

I'm growing Ailsa Craig and the packet suggests sowing December-April. It's my first time growing full-size onions from seed, and I just sowed a small number in a seed tray (well, actually a large mushroom punnet with holes punched in it!). My onion and garlic bed is pretty much full so this was more of an experimental sowing than anything else. They were so floppy I snipped off the ends with some scissors and they are now semi-upright so will be interesting to see what they end up doing.

I do something similar to the module method you mention with spring onions when I want to get them going early- sowing several in a pot and planting them as a clump  :)



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