Overwintering onions

It sometimes seems as if allotment life is relentless.

No sooner have we cleared an area so that we can see some bare soil, than it’s time to plant again. The peas and beans are out, the overwintering onions are ready to go in. We are delaying planting our Japanese overwintering onions (Senshyu Yellow) and our Electric red overwintering onions until mid October, in an attempt to stop them getting too lush to early and then having their growth nipped back by a heavy frost. I think this is what caused some of our onions to develop a little rot this year.

We also have Kelsae onion seeds to sow in December. These are the exhibition onions that are supposed to grow to mammoth sizes – people on our site certainly had some big onions with this seed this year, so we’re hoping we’ll do well too.

Whether it’s seed or sets, onions need a well-drained soil with a fine tilth. We’re putting most of our sets into raised beds this year, so that we can keep the birds off them. First we’ll rake the surface and then sprinkle some granular fertiliser to improve the soil fertility. The sets are sown around 15cm apart and the rows around 30cm apart. When they’re in place we cover the beds with this year’s sweet pea netting which is a little bit holey but works fine to keep birds off the sets until they have put down roots and sprouted a bit, which seems to immediately make them less interesting to the pigeons, at which point we can remove the net and peg it over the open ground where we’ll be sowing the Kelsae seed around the winter solstice.

The only thing that onions really need, apart from protection from birds, is weeding. They usually do fine without even watering, but onions are easily swamped by weeds.

It's all a step up from last year's onions, bought in a 99p shop and with instructions written in an unknown language (maybe Russian) but which produced large, juicy white onions even so ...

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Blogger Pegg said...

When you say the peas and beans are out, is that seedlings you have planted or seeds? And can I ask which varieties please? I really dont want my plot to lie dormant over the winter so any tips appreciated.

October 2, 2011 at 12:00 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

I mean that I've taken out all last year's plants. We'll sow our broad beans probably in January this year, and our peas go in around the same time. In previous years we've sown Aquadulce Claudia broad beans in November but we lost an entire crop this year because of the snow, thaw, snow in December so we're going to try an undecided spring sown variety in 2012. We save our own peas from seed year after year so they are really bred to grow for us!

We plant our peas in paper pots in the cold greenhouse in January and then plant them, pot and all, outdoors in March - it works for us!

October 6, 2011 at 3:34 AM  

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