Coronoveg: Spring onions

Another one for everyone today (unless you hate onions, of course…) These versatile little veg are salad staples but are great in all manner of cuisines, and they’re really handy to jazz up plain stuff or use if you’ve run out of actual onions (which take much longer to grow). They are easy to grow in virtually no space.

The seeds should be relatively easy to find on the most pathetic supermarket racks, and although there are many different varieties to be brutally honest most of them taste much the same.

Of course you can sow them in open ground, which is where I usually do it, but there’s nothing to stop you popping a few seeds in a regular pot by the back door or on an outside window ledge. They’ll thank you for some proper light but apart from that they’re remarkably unfussy.

I found this packet of red salad onions Lilia* in my seed stash. The sow-by date was 2016, but I figure it’s worth gambling a pot full of soil on it. I two-thirds filled an 8″ pot with compost (not seed compost, these are sown where you want them to grow so they’ll need a bit of goodness in the soil).

Gently tamp-down (flatten) the compost so the seeds have something to grip onto.

Sow them sort-of thinly. It doesn’t matter too much if they bunch together – you can always thin them out so the rest have space to grow (you can use the thinnings in salads) – but equally don’t sow them so thickly the pot becomes a mini jungle.

Barely cover with some more compost, label them then put it outside. After Seta dug out three of my chillies the other day I don’t recommend putting them on the ground, but that would be the only reason. They like some sun, but apart from that, and making sure they stay damp, that’s it. They’ll start appearing in a few days, though it will be a few weeks before you can start harvesting.

Another classic time to sow spring onions is the autumn, when you do need to pay a little more attention to the variety you grow. Basically some varieties overwinter so you get an early ‘spring’ crop. I usually sow ‘Guardsman’.

* I note this variety can be left to bulb-up into small onions. I’ve never tried this, but if I get some I’ll sow the rest of the packet in open ground.

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