It has been a good year for onions indeed. As part of an experiment I sowed the first batch mid November 2016 and they grew well. I sowed a second batch on New Years Day 2017. One of each of these I grew in the greenhouse.
The experiment did not go as I would have thought and the onions in the greenhouse went over weeks ago. The largest which was the November sowing only weighing 1lb 11oz.
The onions which I grew in a raised bed on top of a black membrane just kept growing. They had the same treatment as the onions in the greenhouse, including the same feed and at the same times. I did loose a couple of the outside onions, but on the whole they have done very well indeed, with the largest this year weighing in at a whopping 4lb 7oz! I also had a few onions just short of this mark.
I know from last year that these large onions do not store very well, so following a short drying-off in the greenhouse I will give as many away as I can.
These Onions I sowed mid November 2016. Let’s see if the early sowing grants even larger onions this year. I note that year (2016) I potted-on the large onions in March, so this year these are really ahead of the game.
Picture of Ailsea onion seedlings next to a small seedling trowel on top a a wooden potting bench
Picture of a tray of onion seedlings
Picture of a tray of onion seedlings
Again, planted with a pinch of Mycorrhizal to aid root growth.
Last year I was very kindly given as a Christmas present a packet of Ailsea Onion seeds. these I sowed on New Years day, this has become a bit of a tradition.
Now however, I read that you should plant onion seeds, or to be precise ‘Giant onion’ seeds as early as October for the following year.
Picture of a seed tray with cover and seed label
Picture of a packet of Ailsae onion seeds next to a mound of compost on a potting bench in a greenhouse
As a birthday present, I have been given a packet of these Giant Onion seeds. Lets see how they do, and if I can beat the 3lb 5oz onion I managed to grow this year. I must note, these giant onions do not store well at all, and that I have unfortunately had to throw a number of them away as they go off so quickly.
Its been a long season and finally I have had the courage to lift the giant onions.
These onions were sown on 1st January 2016, and were a Christmas present from the good lady.
Picture of a 3lb 5oz giant onion being weighed by a set of digital scales
Picture of giant onions
Picture of giant onions on a table in the greenhouse drying
Picture of a raised bed with the remains of the seasons giant onions ready to pick up
The experiment to grow a big onion used varieties “Ailsea”, “Mammoth Improved” and “Giant Exhibition”.
Potting the seedlings on in March with the addition of “Rootgrow” I was very fortunate this year, unlike last, not to suffer any deaths and they all grew really well in the greenhouse.
Planting these out into their final positions through black sheeting to keep the ground warm and weed free in May this year.
Overall, I think the variety “Ailsea” won the day. The other two varieties did grow really well with 3lb onions in each, but the most consistent large onion was definitely “Ailsea”. And the onion with the biggest roots was “Mammoth Improved”.
I wish I tried them in the greenhouse to see if they would grow any bigger, and the largest this year was 3lb 5oz, which I don’t think is bad for a first attempt.
After failing miserably with the giant onions last year, I seem to be having a little success this. Nearly all the seedlings sprouted and I don’t think I lost any. I planted them out at the end of May and they are fattening up quite nicely.
Picture of a one pound coin against a giant onion
Picture of rows of giant onions
Picture of a raised bed of giant onions
Picture of a raised bed of onions that have been damaged
Although, my main crop of Sturon that I planted as sets looks like it has been sprayed with weedkiller accidently by the neighbour. Very disappointed, but part of having to share an allotment I guess.
Amazingly, this year the giant onion seeds have done very well indeed. I think I have only lost around 5 plants as opposed to last season when I lost a lot. maybe the sprinkling in cinnamon really does work to stave off infections.
Drilling larger holes in the black plastic I planted the young plants with more “rootgrow”. Hopefully the black plastic will keep the raised bed warm and keep moisture in the soil also.
I have been trying to find a way for a while now of growing onions with no need to weed. It is such a pain having to be very careful between sets with the hoe, and inevitably I catch the odd one or two.
Seeing how professionals’ grow some veg through a membrane, I had an idea of trying to do the same with onions sets.
Before laying down the black plastic, I had dug in lots and lots of chicken manure. This black membrane is also breathable, and infact lets water through but stops weeds in their tracks. It also warms the soil up tremendously and keeps in moisture stopping evaporation.
I have had to construct a number of slats simply to weight the membrane down so the wind does not get in underneath and lift up. I will have to watch out for slugs doing this, but lets see if I can grow maintenance free onions this year.
Oh, and the variety, is as usual ‘Sturon’ that I normally set away in cells in the greenhouse.
The Kale and the three types of giant onion have germinated very successfully this season.
Today I have potted on the first plants; ‘Ailsae’ Onions and the Kale ‘Nero Toscana’.
Picture of a tray of transplanted seedlings into three inch pots on a bench in a greenhouse
Mixing in a good supply of Vermiculite and a good few handfuls of fish, blood and bone which will hopefully give the seedlings a real boost.
I also have put at the root of each Onion seedling a pinch of Mycorrhizal fungi. This will work with the plants root system and provide me with huge onions this year, I trust.
I have gone to even further lengths with the aim of producing a large onion. I have made a dedicated raised bed that I have raked in a lot of fish, blood and bone meal, along with lots of chicken manure pellets, and a whole bag of 6x manure. On top of this, I have secured a planting black membrane. This will heat up the ground far more efficiently, as well as suppressing all weeds, allowing air and water to pass right through.
I have temporarily placed planks of wood along the perimeter just to keep the membrane down on the soil, and protect it from the wind that whips across the allotment.
When the plants are ready to go out into the bed around the back end of April, I will drill 3″ holes along each planting line, about 9″ apart, and each onion will drop into these.
I have also heightened the arms along the perimeter of the raised bed in order to secure a taller wind break to protect the onions that I will install after I have planted out.
This year I have been very fortunate to be given for Christmas 3 types of giant onion seeds. They are ‘Mammoth Improved’, ‘Ailsea’, and ‘Giant Exhibition’.
The Giant Exhibition really did not come to much last season although I got onions they were not very giant.
So today, the first day of the new year, I have sown these seeds and will hope for good things this year.
Picture of a trowel and packets of giant onion seeds in a wooden trug
Picture of a small hand hoe and trowel in a wooden trug
Picture of a string twine holder with a hook for a pair of scissors and a model bird on top
I was also very fortunate in getting a wooden trug. It was very pale, and the wood very dry so I have lathered it in linseed oil which will protect and also give it a little waterproofing.