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SERIES 33 | Episode 13
In many parts of Australia, Autumn is the best time to start planting onion seeds or seedlings, particularly in warmer areas because onions need a long cool growing season to develop well.
Tino waits until it’s consistently cold before he sows his onion seeds.
There are lots of onions you can grow at home, with long keeping onions able to be stored for many months after harvesting. Tino has chosen ‘White Gladolan’ onions to grow from seed, characterised by a white flesh and a sweet flavour. For the seedlings he has chosen common brown onions, for their longevity.
Regardless of what type of onion you sow, the cultivation technique is always the same.
Onions like a sweeter soil of around 6.5 pH, that is high in organic matter, but not overly rich. A bed prepped with aged sheep or cow manure is perfect.
They also love a full sun position, and grow above the ground unlike their close cousin, garlic. So drainage needs to be good, but it’s not as important as it is for garlic.
Onions are also a great follow up to nitrogen hungry crops, like leafy greens and brassicas. That’s because if there’s too much nitrogen in the soil, onions tend to produce soft leafy growth, at times impacting bulb development.
- You can grow your onions from either seed, (Tino’s preference), or seedlings - just make sure the plants aren’t too overly developed, otherwise they can flower early.
- Find a glass jar and half fill it with sand, add your seeds and mix together. The sand helps with drainage.
- Fill the rest of the jar with dolomite lime which helps sweeten the soil with added calcium and magnesium.
- Find a lid, tighten and give it a good shake.
- Make a small hole in the lid then use it to pour the contents along a row of soil.
- Water with some added seaweed extract.
They need about 6 months in the ground. When the leaves yellow off, it’s time to harvest. Store onions in a dry, dark place.