Onions and spring fever on the allotment

What a perfect weekend!  Glorious weather combined with the chance to potter on the allotment and do a bit more planting … what more could we have asked for?

onion seedlings

We started the weekend asking for advice about growing onions from seeds.  A bit thank you to the lovely folk on Twitter who obliged and answered my question: how deep do you plant onions when growing from seed?

Big thanks to @Smallholder, @Janey0142, and @RoseyTN.  Janey kindly sent me a link which structured my weekend back at allotment central.  It was a big help, which I really appreciated.

When it comes to growing veggies from seed, my complaint is always that you only ever get half the story.  Something I read recently suggested I should plant the onions out when they were ‘the size of spring onions’.  Helpful?  Not really … does that mean as tall as spring onions or as thick as spring onions?  No idea!

Something else suggested they shouldn’t be planted until at least 4 weeks after the risk of frosts.  The next article said they were frost-hardy.  Do  you see the problem?

onion seedlings in modules

onions - with their own room (& regular showers)

So, thank to Janey’s link, my onion experiment in on.  One of my two trays of ‘onionlets’ has been transplanted into modules.  Each now have their own private room with shower!  The other tray has been promoted to the plant house ready to harden off.  These will be planted straight into the ground.  I sincerely hope the 2nd tray wins.  Putting nearly 120 little onion seedlings into modules was tedious, to say the least.  A little like potting on individual blades of grass …. and I’ll leave that to your imagination.

But onions have not dominated the weekend.  Up on the allotment, the swedes are planted, along with the first beetroot.  There is no sign yet of the first peas and I’m just hoping they haven’t provided dinner for our resident bank voles.  We have previously grown peas back at allotment central in half pop bottles, but the mission this year is all about labour-saving.

We know the pigeons enjoy the pea shoots, so David has come up with yet another bird deterrent.  This time it is more old Venetian blind slats stapled together over a piece of string.  You might be forgiven for thinking he spends each winter wondering how he can get the better of our feathered friends!

Worm wine and comfrey cordial

As you might remember, we have a wormery at home in the garden, which has supplied us with gallons of liquid fertiliser, or as it is fondly known, worm wine!  The wormery won’t be with us much longer though, as it is shortly going to Portsmouth when the family get into their new house.  So today we have started off our first batch of comfrey cordial.  This is said to be the most amazing liquid feed, despite smelling like an open sewer!  Hmmm … this might be a job for David.

Having read all about onions recently, it seems we need to feed them.  We’ve never fed our onions before, so perhaps that’s where we’ve been going wrong.  So now our onionlets are fed with diluted worm wine, as have the sets which were planted on the plot a couple of weeks ago.  It remains to be seen if it will make a difference, but that’s what our onion experiment is all about.

I will admit to being confused by the concept of feeding onions.  This seems to be another of life’s little mysteries.  When it comes to companion planting, onions should be grown next to carrots.  The onion smell is meant to distract the carrot fly.  However, if you feed carrots or sow them in rich soil, the roots will fork.  So how do these two live together companionably or should the onions be sacrificed for the carrots?  I’m not planning on finding out though.  We tried planting onions with the carrots and were still badly hit by fly.  Although we only got 12 carrots last year … there was not a nibble mark to be seen!  The barrier mesh seemed to work.  On the other hand, could it be the carrot fly just didn’t bother with our miserable efforts in 2010?


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3 Responses to “Onions and spring fever on the allotment”

  1. A belt and braces sort of day « The Oxfordshire Copywriters' Allotment Says:

    […] might recall our 2011 onion experiment.  Back in April we planted onion seedlings, which resembled little more than blades of grass.  […]

  2. How to plait onions & our onion experiment « The Oxfordshire Copywriters' Allotment Says:

    […] you might remember, we decided to experiment with growing onions from seed this year.  But taking a ‘belt and braces’ approach, we also planted some onion sets. Our champion […]

  3. As the allotment season draws to an end « The Oxfordshire Copywriters' Allotment Says:

    […] you remember, I decided to try growing onions from seed this year instead of sets.  Our onion experiment was fairly well controlled, with both lots of onions being treated […]

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