~ ONION SEED: NORMAL BULB ONIONS ~
Many people grow onions from seed as it is so much cheaper than from sets,
and the range of varieties available is better.
Onions won't germinate in cold soil, and need quite a long time to make a bulb,
so there are three times to sow onions from seed:
Easy Option 1 - Indoors
The usual and most reliable option is to sow indoors in trays very early in January or February, with some heat, so that they get going early enough to make nice big bulbs. They will grow on without heat (for example in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse) once germinated. Transplant out about 4"-6" apart once the soil warms up:
Easy Option 2 - Outdoors
The other common way is to sow seed outdoors directly, in this case you should wait until March or so when the soil has warmed up a bit. (Your onions will be a bit smaller as they've had a shorter growing season.) Thin your rows in stages to about 4"-6" apart as they grow:
Harder (but bigger onions) Option 3 - Overwinter
The final option is a bit more of a gamble but if it works can give really large onions. If you have mild winters, you can sow seed outdoors around mid August the previous year, with a cold-hardy variety that will survive the winter outdoors. If successful, this can give an early crop of very large onions the next summer. If you want to do this, use Paris Early White.
The only other thing to remember is that Onions HATE shading.
If they get shaded by other plants like grass or weeds, they won't bulb properly. It's easy - just keep them well weeded.
Right, now that's explained, on to the Onions!
Early Paris White EARLY SOWING
We've chosen this cold-hardy onion as a good variety to try for overwintering, giving you very nice white onions early in the year when they are most appreciated. Not huge, but it is very cold hardy, and quite early.
It is also sown in spring for producing small white bulb onions to use fresh, so you can do half your packet each way.
For full-size onions:
Sow it around Aug 18th in a closely-spaced row. At the start of October they will be a decent size and you just transplant them out to their final position spaced about 15cm apart. As soon as the weather improves in spring they'll be off and away, giving you earlier / larger onions than you would get otherwise.
For baby onions:
Sow in late spring and about 3 months later you'll get small white bulb onions with a long green top, you use the whole thing (bulb and greens) chopped in salads or cooking.
Not a storage onion, this is one for eating fresh as and when you harvest it.
Order OnPE 350 seed £
Yellow Rynsburger - LONG STORAGE
This is a very well known traditional deep yellow-brown onion with a high yield and nice dense bulbs. (The ones in the photo are just harvested, they turn a deeper colour once dried & stored.)
We have chosen it because it stores for a long time after harvest, so a great one for all your winter cooking.
Sow in spring for harvest in August/September, it will store overwinter.
One of the most-grown onions in the UK, because it keeps so well.
Order OnYR 350 seed £
A traditional onion named after the town in Valencia, Spain, where it has been grown for centuries. It has large round brown bulbs, that are sweet and spicy. We've found it to be a really reliable variety, producing a good harvest that is ready a little earlier than the Yellow Rynsburger, but still stores pretty well.
This variety is normally sown in Spring for harvest in Autumn, but you can also try sowing it after midsummer as an overwintering onion.
Larger packet at a very reasonable price!
Order OnLi 600 seed £
This is a well-known and reliable onion for early spring sowing, making large golden-brown bulbs that store quite well. If started early enough it can produce a really good crop of big bulbs.
Sow this in Spring for autumn harvest. (But as it is quite cold-hardy, you could also experiment with some seed sown in August as an overwintering onion - if it works you will get very big onions the next year.)
Traditional for early sowing in Spring.
Order OnST 600 seed £
Amposta - RED
This is a nice, widely adapted pale red onion which we have chosen for the sweetness of the bulbs. Sow it in Spring for Autumn harvest.
The round bulbs are a mellow red colour, and they store quite well for a while.
Red sweet bulbs, use by midwinter.
Order OnAM 350 seed £
Red Brunswick Onion - PURPLE
We find this a good reliable red onion, it has very dark purple skin to each ring when sliced.
It produces a good crop of medium-sized, slightly flattened red bulbs by late summer. Best used fresh, but it can store quite well.
Purple and sweet. Sow in Spring - don't try to overwinter this one as it's not very cold hardy.
Order OnRB 350 seed £
~ It is easy to grow SHALLOTS from Seed, too ~
Zebrune Shallot REALLY GOOD
This has been a real winner these last few years, outperforming our other onions by a noticeable margin. And they have a really good flavour, too. If we had to chose just one onion to grow, this would be it.
Shallots are similar to normal onions, but with a slightly different ancestry. They are narrower and longer, with a different mix of flavour compounds - less strongly 'oniony', and therefore sweeter & milder to taste.
They grow really well from seed, and Zebrune is a fairly modern variety; it makes bigger bulbs than traditional shallots, so there is less peeling to do, and it was deliberately selected for growing from seed rather than sets.
This kind is popularised on TV cookery shows as a 'banana shallot' (because it is slightly curved). Excellent in salads or cooked.
They do not make as many seed as ordinary onions, and they are quite rare , but we have still made up a packet that is pretty generous, while holding the price down as much as possible.
An easy, fine-flavoured, large, sweet & mild shallot. Sow in Spring, inside in heat if possible.
Order OnZS 300 seed £