Plant onions between mid-March and mid-April – or in autumn. There are different cultivars for each growing season.
Plant late August to October for an early crop to harvest in June or early July. RHS recommended autumn onion sets include ‘Radar,’ ‘Troy’, ‘Swift’ and ‘Electric.’
- Plant into well worked soil. Autumn plantings do best in light soils (as they don’t do well in heavy soils).
- Crops do best if planted by the end of September, when the soil is warm enough to allow them to establish well.
- Plant 2-4 inches apart and allow 10-12 inches (30 cm) between rows, in drills about 3/4 inches deep (or push into loose earth so that only their tips show).
- Water well to establish and also during prolonged dry spells in autumn and early winter. Keep the onion bed weed free; weed by hand to avoid root disturbance.
- When mature, allow the foliage to yellow and flop over naturally and then 2-3 weeks later use a fork to gently ease each bulb out of the ground.
- Lay out the bulbs to dry off naturally.
- Once dried, they can be tied from a wire and hung above ground to dry, or be laid out on a pallet or somesuch, but make sure it can be moved or covered quickly if it rains.
- Once dry onions can be stored in trays filled loosely with dry hay. They can also be plaited.
It is best to rotate the location of an onion bed every one or two years to avoid disease building up in the ground.
We planted Shakespeare onion in the back patch, late October 2018. Onion Shakespeare sets are a British bred, autumn planting brown skinned variety that produces high yields of good sized bulbs with excellent skin formation. If planted October/November it shows exceptional bolt resistance. Harvest May to July.