Growing Onions – “Non Conventional” way

Person Author: Gavin Conway Calender February 10, 2013 Posted Tags: Comment 3 Comments

This year I decided to grow all my onions from seed instead of from sets. I have grown enough to be self sufficient (or almost) for many years now, starting way back when I was growing them on my flat roof-top garden. See my blog here about that..  Then onto my garden shares and now finally on my Allotment..  I used to grow over 1000 sets each year but now cut down to about 400-500 as my two sons have moved out and don’t need so many. I also normally do a packet of Japanese winter sets in September/October which I start using on 1st May each year as a filler crop to be used before the main crop is ready.

So just before Christmas I planted out a whole bunch of onion seed, fired up the new electric propagator and within a week they were over an inch high!! Wow I was pleased.. then I pricked them out and watched them all die!! Oh… I must have done them too soon?? I really dont know. This is the normal way that everyone grows them so where did I go wrong – mmmm – I don’t know..

These pics show my very sparse terrible crop of pricked out onion and leek seedlings after a month or so… The modules all had 2 pricked out plants in each!!


Anyway, back in Zimbabwe I used to grow a HUGE onion patch each year (about 150 sq mt) and gave all surplus away to family, friends and local children’s homes as our donation to charity. We would normally buy the seedling plants from our local hardware store but also sometimes grew them ourselves. Simply sowed some seed thickly in a prepared small patch, watered  and waited for them to get to matchstick  thickness (about 3-4mm) then dug them up and planted.

So I have decided to do this here as well. Today I have scatter sowed a few varieties in trays fairly thickly and thrown them onto the e-propagator. This way I hope to have enough grown to the seedling size ready to plant out end of March.

Today’s sowing all partitioned off and the e-propagator full of new seeds + my new asparagus seed from the seed shop.


 p.s. If they fail I have a few packets of sets as a backup and the pound shop is just down the road!!




3 Responses to “Growing Onions – “Non Conventional” way”

  • Helen Fowler:

    Hi Gavin, I dont prick my onions or leeks out till they are about 2-3 inches high. Before that I find they dont have much root.I sometimes leave them to get to 5 inches before pricking out and I dont have any casualties.

  • Jay:

    I agree that it is sometimes worth it to try growing your own onion sets. I’m growing my onions from seed this year, though it does seem to take a very long time to do so.

  • Tee Gee:

    1000 onions a year so you know your “onions” then? 😉

    Like the others have said I think you might have pricked them out too soon and the might have caught a chill, after all Macclesfield is not like Zimbabwe.:)

    I guess you are not fully acclimatised yourself yet and I guess this weather you must be feeling the chill as well 😉

    If it is any consolation I lost all my seed onions this year but I put my problem down to old unviable seeds so next year I will buy in some fresh seed.

    I will be growing some Sturon & Rumba setts in there place but not 1000 a tenth of that will do me!

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