Onions are the staple vegetable with umami (savoury) flavour. They go well in so many recipes from so many cuisines; sweated off in a Bolognese sauce, caramelised on New York hot dog, crisp and fresh in an Asian salad, deep fried in batter with your fish and chips, the list is endless.
Another good thing about onions is they are easy to grow. They are hardy and as such are a cool season crop. Here are a few pieces of advice for getting the most out of growing your own onions.
Onions can be grown from seeds or from sets (small onion bulbs). McGregor’s seed range has many onion varieties so you can choose the type that will suit your garden and pallet.
You might think of onions as root vegetables but, in fact, the bulbs are modified leaves and onions should be treated as leafy vegetables.
Pukekohe Long Keeper Onion (Brown Onion)
A popular NZ bred variety. Easy to grow. Excellent variety for storing over autumn & winter, hence its name "long keeper".
Californian Onion (Red Onion)
The standard red onion. Crisp and mild in flavour. Large flattened bulbs. Can be harvested and used well before reaching full maturity and stored for 2 to 3 months after harvesting
How to Plant Your Onions
Sow the seeds in trays for subsequent transplanting or, when frosts are not likely, sow direct in a well-prepared seedbed of well-draining soil and in full sun.
When sowing direct, sow the seeds about 1 cm deep and 1 cm apart in rows about 30 cm apart. Keep the soil moist and the seeds will germinate in 2-3 weeks.
When the seedlings are 5-10 cm tall prick the seedlings out and plant them in the prepared seedbed.
Water the seedlings immediately after planting and carefully hoe between the onions regularly to get rid of any emerging weeds.
Fertilise your onions every few weeks with McGregor’s VegeMax.
Onions and other Alliums such as garlic, chives, spring onions and leeks, are susceptible to rust disease. Check them regularly for the yellow/orange marks on the leaves. Treat with Super Sulphur to prevent the rust or to stop spread.
Hints and Tips
In late summer pull the soil away from the onion bulbs to expose the bulbs to the sunlight.
The onions can be harvested when the leaves yellow and bend over. Allow the leaves to dry and then lift the bulbs.
Once dried, the onions can be stored by stringing them up in onion ropes and hanging them in a cool, dry, frost-free place.22 January 2021