Sow and grow onions

Sow and grow onions

There’s nothing more satisfying for a vegie gardener than sourcing ingredients from the patch. When it’s a kitchen staple like onion, you’re bound to make good use of what you grow. Now is the perfect time in most areas to sow onion seeds, and this step-by-step guide will teach you an easy multi-sowing technique that saves time and space while bringing bumper returns.

1 Collect a bunch of multicell seedling punnets and fill with seed-raising mix.

2 Water the punnets, then use a stick or old pencil to create a 1cm-deep sowing hole in the middle of each cell.

3 Drop 6 or 7 seeds into each hole, then backfill and water well. For best results, use fresh seed – anything older than a year or two quickly loses its viability.

4 Place your punnets in a spot that gets a few of hours of morning sun, with shade for the rest of the day. Keep them moist. The seed will germinate in about 10 days.

5 Apply a half-strength liquid fertiliser to the seedlings once a week. When conditions are cooler and the plants are about 10cm tall, plant them out in the patch.

6 Choose a garden bed that gets plenty of sunlight. Prepare your soil with lots of compost, rake it level, then use a dibbler to make holes for planting the seedling plugs. Space them about 25cm apart in rows 30cm apart. Keep moist and fertilise once a month with a light dressing of blood and bone along the rows, close to the plants.

7 Thin out the onion clumps throughout the season, as the plants gain in size. You can use the thinnings as you would a spring onion. Aim to stop thinning them when you have 3–4 developing bulbs per clump left in the ground. These are the ones that you will leave to grow on to become full-sized onions.

8 Watch the crops as the bulbs develop and approach maturity. They are ready to pull up when the stems start to bend and flop over. Some may form flowers. Try to harvest your onions before they get to flowering stage, and use onions that have flowered first – they don’t store as well.

9 Brush off some of the soil, tie the onions in bunches and hang them in a warm, dry, shaded spot to cure for a few weeks before trimming and storing.