Planting Onions & Garlic
Monday, 8 October 2012 | SimplySeed
I’ve just finished planting out my onions and garlic sets. I prefer autumn planting onion sets, not because I think there’s any difference in the final onion quality, it’s really because I get itchy planting fingers in the autumn. A few hours spent planting sets gives me just enough of a cultivation fix to see me through until next year.
I planted fifty Shakespeare onions and five heads of Provence Wight garlic. I put a net over the onions because our vegetable plot is patrolled by hoards of hungry woodpigeons, blackbirds and robins who are always convinced that the little papery tips of the onions sticking out of the soil are a new and exciting type of worm. I’ll take the netting off once the onions have got themselves established and look more like onions than worms to the avian residents.
Shakespeare is one of my favourite onion varieties because they have a really sturdy skin so they store well. I found it hard to dry my onion harvest properly with the wet summer we had this year. I’m afraid I was guilty of hanging some up in our improvised storage shed (the disused outdoor toilet in our garden) before they were completely dry and I lost some of my lovely harvest due to rot. Very disappointing, but a lesson well learned. Next summer these onions will be dried to a veritable crisp before I store them!
Planting onion sets is very easy. I space each onion about 15cm away from the next, make a small hole just a little shallower than the onion, pop the onion in pointy top upwards and cover it back up with soil leaving just the tip showing above ground. If you space the onions further apart, you’ll get bigger onions, but unless you’re growing monsters for a show I don’t see the point. I much prefer smaller ones for culinary use.
If we get a dry spell over the next few weeks I’ll give them a little water, but the chance of a dry spell at any point in this year appears to be remote! Once the soil warms up again in the spring I’ll need to keep them well weeded. The skinny onion leaves aren’t able to keep the weeds down naturally so they need some help. Someone bought me a little onion hoe last year, but I prefer to weed by hand, on my hands and knees.
Our plot is blessed with more than our fair share of chickweed and it’s very cunning.It has long fragile roots that spread out like a web and are designed to break easily when you pull at the leaves of the plant. I find that hoeing often results in a nice looking veg patch for a few days, but I know the chickweed roots laugh in the face of my hoeing and they’re all nicely intact under the soil. After a week or so it looks like it’s never been weeded. In the end an hour or so on my hands and knees is more effective that a quick blitz with a hoe.
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