I grew onions last year, and have to say they are a cracking vegetable to grow. Apparently you shouldn’t plant them too deep, else they can rot, and they don’t need tons of watering for the same reason. So basically they don’t need much looking after at all – which is right up my street.
They’re clever little things too – they know when they’re finished growing and ready to come out – their leaves wither and bend over. Once out, they store for ages in a cool dark place – so long as you don’t let them touch each other.
Oh, and home-grown onions taste fantastic.
I was keen to grow them again for this year’s crop, so whizzed off to the garden centre late last year to buy sets for autumn planting. Sets are just tiny onions that grow into full size ones by the end of the summer, and can be planted in autumn or spring. Keen to get a head start on the plot, I was most definitely after the autumn ones. Oh yes, I was going to have whoppers this year!
However, the garden centre told a different story. On arrival, I quickly discovered that everyone else seemed to have had the same idea. The shelves looked like they’d been looted, and there was not one onion, shallot or garlic bulb in sight.
Panicking slightly, I hunted around online, and was relieved to find that I could get garlic delivered at the end of last year, but I’d have to wait until spring for the onions. It seemed I’d well and truly missed the onion boat. Accepting defeat, I placed an order for a spring delivery instead and these arrived last week.
On a further trip to the garden centre, discovering onions were back in stock, I have to admit, I went a little bit crazy. Conveniently forgetting about the online order, I excitedly arrived home clutching assorted bags of onions and shallots.
Last weekend I decided to take advantage of the good weather and begin the mammoth task of planting my onions. By now, all 350 of them.
In no time at all, last year’s brassica bed was cleared and raked, ready for some onion action. I could almost hear the collective sigh of relief from the family that cabbage was finally off the menu. I then gathered together my vast collection of onions, and set about poking them in. It took a bit of crafty packing, but happy to say I found a space for every last one of them. A couple even ended up in the carrot bed as I’ve heard the carrot fly isn’t keen on the smell.
If all of them mature into fine specimens, I’ll be holding a French-themed barbeque at the end of summer. Just bring your own beret and stripy jumper, and I’ll provide the props.
Featured in The Hinckley Times – 22 March 2011: