Way back at the beginning of March, I set about planting my onion sets out into their prepared bed. I’ve never had much luck with growing onions from sets or seed but this year I went about the planting out process with almost military precision, taking great care to ensure that each row was the correct distance apart and that within the rows, the sets were also spaced as per the recommendations in the various gardening books I have at my disposal. The result was neat rows of tiny onion bulbs which could have passed muster at the Trooping of the Colour, on Horse Guards Parade.
Now all I could do was weed, water and wait!
Well it seems, dear reader, judging from the results of my totally unscientific, 2015 study of onion growing, that correct spacing is critical to success. I have watched with growing excitement, as the first shoots of green began to sprout from the now swollen bulbs, have whipped errant weeds out of my carefully measured and spaced rows, have regularly dragged the other inhabitants of Mudville down to admire my nicely growing onions, have hijacked any unsuspecting visitor for much the same purpose and have waxed lyrical on the beauty and size of individual onions within the rows.
Then a couple of weeks ago the leaves toppled over and I realised my crop was very nearly ready for lifting ….. I just needed to be patient. Everything I had read said that I needed to wait two weeks from the time the leaves toppled, to the day of harvest.
Well the two weeks passed but lifting the onions had to be delayed because of the rain and you are not supposed to harvest onions for storage in rain. Ideally, once dug up, onions should be left outside in the sun to dry out for another couple of weeks but with the unsettled weather of the last week or so, this was not a viable option and so I needed to revert to ‘plan B’ and dry mine in the greenhouse. The very crowded greenhouse which is filled to bursting with peppers and chilli plants. However, a quick glance inside and I discovered that there was indeed room for my newly harvest bulbs ……..
….. which is how 35 onions came to be in front of the trays of chillies and peppers, upside down, with their leaves slotted through the gaps in the staging slats. Of the 35, I think that 22 are suitable for drying out for storage and the remaining 13 can be used over the next few weeks for cooking. I am gratifyingly pleased with the size of most of the onions and have calculated that two thirds of them are about the width of a standard sized orange.
All in all and after careful consideration, I would say that spacing is everything and shouldn’t be skimped on where onions are concerned.