I have never had much luck when it comes to growing onions whether this be by seed or by sets but I am determined to keep on trying because we go through an awful lot of onions in Mudville and whilst I won’t pretend to be able to grow anything like our entire requirement in our patch, I should be able to provide a significant number for consumption. This year I am revamping the veg patch and throwing my existing rotation plan out of the window. It has been in use for about 5 years and is quite restrictive, allowing for only a three year rotation at best. I hope that by rejigging where I grow certain crops, I will be able to see how successful (or not) they are in their new locations and, with luck, find myself in a position to instigate a much better 4 or 5 year rotation system. Only time will tell but on Saturday (March 7th) I made a start and planted the first of my onion sets in one of the raised beds.
In order to try and maximise the growing potential of my onions, this year I have carefully researched the variety I am growing and have found that the information I have read has been pretty uniform, especially in terms of spacings and so I planted my first onions out with military precision, using my soon to be patented (not) distance gauging system.
I should say at this point that a lot of the published content I have found on line, states that onion sets prefer open ground and raised bed should be avoided if possible but the beds that Mud built for me are 1 foot deep and there is no barrier between the raised bed soil and that of the ground upon which they are sitting. I have, in the past, battled hard to uproot parsnips which have grown deeper than their 1 foot allowance and so I know that the soil beneath the beds, is accessible to the plants in them.
So with my bed nicely prepared a few weeks ago, I grabbed my onion bulbs, gloves, a tent peg for marking the holes and a ruler and headed outside.
First job was to make the gauging tools for onion planting which called for sets to be planted 4 inches apart in rows 12 inches apart. I knew those pesky Birch twigs would come in useful for something:
Onions sets have to be planted the right way up, that is to say roots at the bottom and growing tip at the top. Only part of the onion bulb is submerged. The tip is left exposed and I only buried about half of each set before gently firming the soil around each one:
I used the smaller of the twigs to initially gauge the distance from the side and back of the bed,to where the first set should be placed and then to correctly distance the onion sets from each other and the back of the bed. An old tent peg made an ideal position marker:
NB: Though not shown here, the position of the first bulb for the second and third rows, was found by placing one end of the smaller twig at the edge of the bed and using the longer twig to gauge the correct distance from the first set in the previous row.
For the second and third rows, both lengths of twig were used to correctly mark the planting position of each set:
I carried on using this method until I had completed 3 rows of 10 sets each which is all that could comfortably be planted into this bed. The sets were then watered and I covered the bed to prevent birds uprooting the newly planted bulbs. In a couple of weeks another 15 or so will be planted into the half bed immediately beside this one.