Tuesday , 12 December 2017
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Know Your Onions –Better Still, Grow Your Onions!

Dark, dismal winter days are perfect for ordering seeds and planning your garden year. This is also the perfect time to choose a favourite veg to plant early for a bumper crop. In my opinion you can’t go wrong with onions. Onions are hardy and robust and are a pre-requisite for so many vegetable dishes.
Most of us love onions and probably wish for a bumper crop and the larger onions the better. There is always some debate about which method yields the best onion crop. The choice is sowing seeds, or planting sets or plants once the ground is workable.

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Why not get going early with your onions so they are ready to plant out early. December is a great time to sow some planter trays of seeds indoors. Germination largely depends on the soil temperature. If you happen to like your winters spent in a sub-tropical home, then you may get signs of life after just four days.
Normal indoor temperatures should still give you 2” seedlings during the winter’s worst weather. With good green growth they can be thinned to about 3”.
You can now pot them into deep bio-degradable pots full of composted soil. This will allow the space for roots to grow. Don’t over-water so the roots grow down and strengthen into an extensive root system. Growing them in pots will give you more control of watering.
Once the worst of the weather has passed, the ground will become workable again. Plant out your onions in a sunny spot with good compost and drainage. Be careful when planting as onions bruise easily. Separate out to about 5” and plant deep enough for the roots. The white stems can go down an inch to keep them stable.
The roots will soon die and get replaced by the new roots. These will soon search downwards for the spring moisture in the ground. The old roots will just compost themselves naturally into the soil.
Progress now comes down to Mother Nature, ahhh. Some wise old hacks will tell you that the more compost and fertilizer, the better for larger onions. Watering must be kept up to speed as onions don’t appreciate being left in the dry.
Wider spacing makes weeding easier. You will need to quell the competition for water. Onion bulbs should continue to swell in late spring and you need to ensure they remain above ground.
Most onion plants will continue to grow into summer and the tops will then begin to fade. Once the tops have dried out and fallen over your onions are ready to be pulled. They can be uprooted and left in the bed for a few days while drying out.
The onion variety will tell you when they are ready for harvest. There are hundreds of varieties available so choose them on preferred taste and sharpness.

Onions Help You Lose Weight
It is generally agreed that all onions are very healthy for the diet. This is mainly due to the high water content combined with low calorie amount. Most of us grow them for the sheer pleasure of eating all that crisp goodness. I can’t think of many dinner plates that don’t get a helping hand from an onion serving one way or the other.
From French onion soup to baked onions for winter. How about a summer treat of onion rings served at the family barbeque come summer holidays? Onions should be on every menu. Surely there should be a large family sized jar of pickled onions in the cupboard this Christmas. Sharp crispy onions in a convenient serving that stores for ages. Which gardener couldn’t agree with that level of ingenuity while watching the snow fall?

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