Today Open: 09:00 to 18:00

Why you should sow onions on Boxing Day

Why you should sow onions on Boxing Day

For generations, keen show-growers have sown their first onions on Boxing Day with dreams of prize-winning bulbs in summer. Sowing this early gives the exhibition varieties plenty of time to bulk up to truly spectacular sizes. But even if you’re only planning to grow onions for your own kitchen, sowing onions on Boxing Day is an excellent excuse to get out of the house and work off some of your Christmas dinners! 

Why grow onions from seed?

Growing onions from seed involve a little more work than planting sets in spring, but it has some advantages:

  • If you’re planning to grow a big crop of onions, a packet of seed is much more cost-effective than buying sets.
  • There’s a wide variety of onion seeds to choose from, including interesting heritage varieties.
  • Onions grown from seed are less prone to bolt (i.e. to flower and set seed instead of developing a bulb) than onions grown from sets.

How to grow onions from seed

If you’re sowing onions on Boxing Day (or any time in mid-winter), you’ll need to start them off somewhere warm, like a heated greenhouse or a propagator.

  • Fill seed trays with good multipurpose compost. Sow the seeds, 5-6 per module and cover them lightly with a thin layer of compost. Water and place somewhere at a temp of 10-16 C (50-61F).
  • In spring, harden off the seedlings and plant them out in well-drained soil in full sun. Although onions are hardy, they will benefit from being covered with fleece while young to protect them from hard frosts. In dry spells, water fortnightly and feed occasionally with a balanced liquid fertiliser.
  • Once the onions thrive, thin the clumps so that you are left with one or two onions in each clump, the onions that you pull up can be used as spring onions. Weed regularly, preferably by hand, to avoid damaging the roots of your onions. Remove any flower stems as they appear to ensure all the plants’ energies go into producing bulbs.
  • Once the bulbs start to swell in midsummer, stop feeding and watering. When the leaves begin to yellow and flop over, they are ready to harvest. 
  • First, to store onions, leave them out in the sun or in a greenhouse for two weeks to ripen. Store the bulbs in net bags once the foliage is dry and papery, or tie the leaves together and hang up somewhere light, dry and cool. Don’t store bruised or damaged onions. 

Onions to sow in winter

These reliable varieties are perennially popular with both show-growers and cooks.

  • Onion ‘Ailsa Craig’ – large bulbs with golden-brown skins and a mild flavour, popular with show growers and cooks
  • Onion ‘Exhibition’ – a traditional show-growing variety producing large, golden-skinned bulbs
  • Onion ‘Red Baron’ AGM – a late-maturing variety with flavourful dark red bulbs. 

We have a fantastic range of onion seeds and other vegetables in the centre now, so visit us soon and get set for a great year’s growing!

You might also be interested in:

The only way is up! Vertical gardening is ideal for balconies, making use of walls, upright supports and cleverly designed planters to turn even the smallest space into a little green piece of paradise.

Read more...

Many climbers can be great for wildlife encouraging insects for birds and bats to eat plus resting and nesting spaces as well. Whichever climber you choose, it is sure to add interest and delight to your garden. Here's our top 5!

Read more...

Planting these top 5 drought tolerant plants means they will thrive in dry conditions and longer hot summers which will ultimately mean you can have a low maintenance garden with the environment in mind.

Read more...

With lots of sustainable kitchen garden ideas, you may be wondering where to start and what is best for your garden. Here’s some ideas we love for sustainable gardening.

Read more...