Onions will be ready for harvesting between 6 and 8 months from sowing seeds. However, seedling planted out would be ready much sooner.
Seeds should be sown in seed trays, with seedling being ready to plant out in 4-6 weeks.
This will give the young plants sufficient time to develop some strength.
Young onion plants look like blades of grass, although they sometimes retain the outer covering of the seed for some time at the tip of the plant. Seedlings should be placed between 5 and 10cm apart.
Onions are available in a range of colours, with strength and use relating to colour.
- Secret of healthy citrus
- Relax, leafcutter bees are good for your garden
- Selective pruning will lead to beautiful roses
- Crepe myrtles in all their glory
- Reaping the benefits of strawberries
- Finding plants that can handle the heat
- The secret to growing tasty, healthy cauliflowers
- Brighten your garden with some Pig Face
- Keep an eye out for mealy bugs on your indoor plants
- A spade's not a spade: essential gardening tool advice
Brown onions have a strong flavour and are quite pungent. They generally keep well under the appropriate storage conditions.
Brown onions roasted whole with other vegetables are delicious.
White onions are flavoursome, but milder than brown onions. They also keep reasonably well.
Milder flavours and strength, such as that preferred in salads or on sandwiches will be obtained from red onions. Red onions also add colour to the salads or a stir-fry.
Onions prefer soil that is fertile and slightly acidic. The addition of dolomite to the soil prior to plant will help to achieve this.
When selecting onion seedlings for planting out, it is preferable to choose smaller plants as they will be less likely to bolt to seed in November, resulting in the loss of the crop.
The preferred method for planting out seedlings of onions varies from the usual practice. Seedlings should first be laid flat in a groove or trench. Then the soil is moved to barely cover the roots.
The plants do not have to be positioned in the soil so that they are sticking straight up.
Within a week to 10 days the young plants will have straightened themselves up and the bulbs will develop just below the soil's surface. This will result in stronger bulbs.
Weeds that develop around onion seedlings should be removed by hand in order to avoid disturbing the roost and bulbs of the plants.
Liquid fertilisers that have a high nitrogen base should be avoided as they will only encourage the plants to produce leaves, rather than develop good bulbs.
Regular watering will ensure good growth as well as assist in the prevention of the bulbs splitting.
Onions will be ready to harvest when the tops start to dry off and fall over. Once onions have matured and have been harvested they should be allowed to dry before storing in an airy place.
Garden beds that have been well used for summer and autumn crops may benefit from the planting of a green manure crop.
Green manure crops are sown from seed and include legumes such as varieties of peas and beans, as well as clover, chickpeas and oats.
Although the seeds can be sown in the traditional way, it is quite sufficient to scatter the mixed seeds over the garden bed and then use a rake to cover the seed with soil.
Following the germination of the seeds, the resulting plants should be allowed to develop to the flowering stage.
Just after the flowers have fallen (the stage at which the plant has reached its maximum maturity level) the plants can be dug into the soil and then left to compost down.
The garden bed should be left for at least a month before new planting takes place.
An alternate method to digging in the green crop is to cut the plants off at the base at flowering time. The green stems can then be left to form a mulch o the surface of the soil.
Growing green manure crops that are then dug into the soil is an efficient method of obtaining nitrogen for the soil. Bacteria in these plants take nitrogen from the air and convert it to the form that plants normally obtain from the soil.
The process is known as nitrogen fixation. Nitrogen is essential for optimum growth and production of flower and vegetable crops.
Growing green manure crops can be more cost-efficient than purchasing mulch and has the additional benefit of ensuring that new, unwanted weeds are not introduced to the home garden.
If the gardener is intending to include new rose plants in the garden, now is the ideal time to prepare the garden beds.
A position that is open and sunny, and sheltered from strong winds is ideal for good rose growth and flower production.
Roses that have been planted so that there is good air flow between each plant will assist in the reduction of diseases such as fungal-based black spot from infesting the plants.
Gardeners should consider this factor when deciding on the number of plants to include in the garden bed.
The area should be dug over well to a depth of about 20cm and organic material added to the soil so that it has time to rot down and become incorporated into the planting medium.
The organic material can come from a variety of sources including crumbled cow manure, leaf mulch or well-rotted garden compost.
Lime should not be added at this time as it is likely to make the soil too acidic.
New roses should never be planted out into fresh manures as they will burn the tender new roots.
Older roses can soon be transplanted into new positions.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Reduce watering of indoor plants and cacti, checking the soil prior to applying the water.
- New grape vines should be pruned from their first year by cutting all stems except for one shoot with two buds.
- Liliums can be lifted, divided and re-planted, applying a good quality compost to the soil for feeding.