Thursday, 18 October 2007


Over the past week or so I have been trying unsuccessfully to buy onion sets. Apparently there is a shortage of sets in the UK due to the wet weather during the summer. My local garden centre have sold out and are unable to source any more.

I've always grown onions from sets but I know that they can be grown from seed. This article suggests planting seeds in January or February at 50-59C which I would not be able to do as I have no heated greenhouse. I have read that seed can be planted directly in the ground around March - April but as onions need quite a long growing season I wondered about the size of the crop raised this way. Alternatively I could start the seed off in March in my new mini greenhouse, which would extend the season slightly.

Does anyone have any tips as to the best method of growing onions from seed?


barefoot gardener said...

One thing a friend of mine does is to direct-plant the seed as early in spring as he can, and then just harvest them at whatever size they are come fall. They are just fine used as green onions, but they don't store well fresh, so you would have to freeze them. Usually he just chops them and freezes them in one cup amounts. No blanching or anything.

It is possible that if you planted this way, you would have sets of your own to store until the next year. I have never done this, but I have read that it can be done.

Good Luck!

willow said...

Thank you for the advice. I think that is what I will do, its worth experimenting for the price of a packet of seeds. It would be great if I could produce my own onion sets and be less reliant on garden centres.

tash said...

I tried onions from seed and it didn't work (outside, open ground, April) - they need a decent amount of heat, which although you don't get from a heated greenhouse, you could do what we di and turn a room of your house into Plant Germination HQ, we give up the back bedroom and have all our seedlings growing in there from February onwards. Once you've got 'em going it's a breeze, I'm told, as long as you follow instructions on the packet and transplant at the right time.

Good luck!

nĂ  said...

hi, i hopped on over from tash's blog. we grow our onion's from seed, and basically we plant the seeds in little pots which we keep in a seed house (can't remember if there's an english name for that!) just a little simple wooden structure with glass panels on top. so it acts kind of in the same way as a greenhouse, but is much smaller. when they have grown big enough to be put in the ground then they should take (unfortunately i don't remember the times of year we do these things, besides here is probably different to the uk for sowing times). good luck with them!

willow said...

Thanks for the tip about needing heat for germination. I might try the seeds in my little plastic greenhouse in about March. It seems to get quite warm during the day when it is sunny though I imagine the temperature drops quite a bit at night.

Thanks for the comment. I will start the seeds of in pots before transferring them to the allotment. I may sow a few seeds directly into the soil for comparison.