GROWING ONIONS IN RAISED BEDS
Article by David Marks.
First we look at which onion type and variety is best. The best way to narrow down the choice of varieties is to answer a few questions about what you want from your onion crop. These are dealt with below.
TYPES OF ONIONS
This page deals with two types of onions, normal onions which mature in August and September and Autumn (Japanese) onions which mature in June and July, a month or two before normal onions.
Normal onions can be stored and eaten over winter but Autumn Planted (Japanese) onions need to be eaten as they are harvested. Their use is to provide onions well before the normal onions rather than replace them.
ONION SETS OR ONION SEEDS
Onion seeds are exactly as they sound, seeds which are sown and then grow into onions for harvest. Onion sets look like small onions and that is what they are. Plant them and they will grow into fully sized onions. For the beginner gardener there is no contest, onion sets win hands down every time. They grow quicker and are more tolerant of soil and weather conditions.
So why might you want to grow onions from seed? The first reason is cost. If you are growing lots of onions then seed is undoubtedly cheaper. The second reason is choice of variety. Far more onion varieties are available as seeds compared to the limited varieties available as sets. We prefer to grow from onion sets because it is so easy but the choice is yours.
Different varieties of onions have different characteristics and the choice is one of personal preference. The key differences are listed below.
TASTE AND SIZE
Different varieties have a different taste, the principal difference being how strong the onion taste is. Some like a mild onion taste, and this is the case in Mediterranean areas, others prefer a strong taste. Read the label and investigate on the internet for the taste of different onion varieties. The common varieties are listed at the end of this page in alphabetic order with their taste characteristics and their average size.
Some onion varieties definitely keep better over winter compared to others, these are listed at the bottom of this page.
This is purely personal preference however it is clear that some onions look better than others either because of their shape or their colour. This can be important in food preparation. For example red onions can add a splash of colour to a salad.
LONG AND SHORT DAY ONIONS
In the UK the distinction between long and short day onions is rarely made. Click here for an explanation of this term and why it may be important in your choice of onion variety.
TYPES OF ONION SETS
Almost all onion sets produce very good results nowadays, but there are a couple of things to look out for. First, heat treated onion sets are best of all. The do cost a bit more than normal onion sets bit are far less prone to bolting. Click here for more information on what bolting is as far as onions are concerned.
The second, rather surprising fact, is that small onion sets are less likely to bolt compared the healthy looking larger ones.
CHARACTERISTICS OF COMMON ONION VARIETIES
|Hyred||Medium||Strong||Good||Red / white|
|Red Baron||Medium||Strong||Excellent||Red / white|
|Stuttgarter Stanfield||Medium||Very mild||Good||White|
Now you've chosen your variety of onion seed or set the next step is to plant or sow them. Click here to go there now, or go to the bottom of this page for more information about growing onions.
MORE ONION INFORMATION PAGES