The meandering thoughts of a modern-day hearth witch.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Allotment Tales // Onions

For our first year of allotmenteering, we have done pretty well with onions, in spite of some worrying moments. We tried two different approaches: before we knew we had secured an allotment we planted some red onion seeds in a planter on the windowsill. These grew well - the seedlings are whispery thin - and we eventually knew we would have to plant them out for more space. 

Image courtesy of Vegetable Garden Guide

Once we knew we had the allotment plot, we planted these out with lots of space between them and also bought some white onion 'sets' (tiny bulbs, each of which will grow into an onion) to plant. These grew more like a bulb would, with a thick shoot to begin with that very quickly developed into tall onion plants.

Sturon Onion Sets 3 kg
Image courtesy of Garden Direct

The seedlings and sets were planted out in late April, early May and by July were starting to show signs of decent sized onions poking up through the soil. Apparently, we planted our onions too deep, because we couldn't see much of the bulb protruding - most other people at the allotment, by this point, had onions almost sitting on top of the soil. 

As the month progressed, we started to notice the leaves drying and blackening. A neighbour mentioned that this is a sign of blight and the onions at our allotment seem to be prone to it. I am unsure whether it is powdery  mildew or onion leaf blight - if anyone recognises it, please comment to let me know! However, the neighbour assured us there would be nothing wrong with the onion bulbs, as long as we pulled them up quickly and dried them out - they may not last as long as unaffected onions, but would still be tasty and perfectly fine to eat.

We now have onions strung up around the whole house, to try and dry them out so they keep as long as possible. This is easily done by chopping off the leaves so a stalk of around 2 inches remains and simply tying string around the stalks. 

Our onions are fairly mild tasting and absolutely lovely. We tried them in Nigel Slater's recipe for baked onions with parmesan and cream (number 5 on this list): very naughty but delicious with a side of garlic spinach and some home-cooked potato wedges. 

What are you harvesting and cooking up this week?

1 musings:

Sam Pennington said...

Wow, they look fantastic! My onions got lost under a blanket of weeds. I cleared the weeds last week, but both the onions and shallots are looking pathetically small. I've left them in the soil in the hope they'll magically improve the longer I leave them. I know I'm kidding myself!!!

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