Do you like spring onion in salads or other dishes? If you do, then maybe you thought about growing it yourself! Spring onion is actually very easy to grow, whether sown or planted as a bulb. White onions, red onions – there are different types that you can eat fresh or cooked.
Onions are packed with vitamins, including vitamins A, B, and C and mineral salts. An excellent option for every enthusiast that wants to give a new meaning to their vegetable garden! So, what are you waiting for? Let’s find out all you need to know to start your DIY planting project!
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What are spring onions?
The onion, Allium cepa, is a cousin of garlic. It is part of the family of leeks and shallots. Its unique bulb has, at maturity, a flower stem surmounted by a large head of small white flowers that will be replaced by capsules containing the seeds.
The onion bulb is rich in vitamins and mineral salts. Its high sulphur content gives it beneficial properties for the skin, nails, and hair. The stem of the onion is rich in vitamin C. Harvested in summer, the onion keeps very well throughout the winter when its nutritional intake is welcome.
Which spring onion variety should you choose?
Many dishes benefit from the addition of spring onions. The long hollow leaves, which have a delicate onion-y flavour, can be thinly sliced to add texture and colour to the white bulbs. Choose from varieties that are ideal for pickling or winter growing. Here are some of the most popular spring onions:
- Spring Onion ‘White Lisbon‘ – This is a perfect choice for new gardeners because it has a short cropping period and is excellent for overwintering.
- Spring Onion ‘Pompeii’ – This silver-skinned, succulent variety has a rounder shape and is perfect for pickling and serving on cocktail sticks.
- Spring Onion ‘Apache’ – This spring onion, a red onion variety with a crisp texture and lovely flavour, adds interest and colour to salads.
- Spring Onion ‘Feast F1 Hybrid’- An excellent all-rounder that can be harvested all summer long if sown in succession.
Probably an all-time favourite veg to eat straight out of the garden are bunching onions! Also known as Welsh onions, green onions, Japanese bunching onions, spring onions, and scallions, these are perennial alliums that produce yummy green stems and tiny white roots, year after year! Apart from the taste, the onions are also selected according to the location. Some varieties are more suited to face the cold or the heat. So, make sure to check the climate in the area you live in and then find what type is ideal for you.
How to grow spring onions step-by-step
Onion is an essential vegetable in our kitchen we can hardly cook without; it gives so much taste to our dishes, we can eat it cooked or raw, and has many health benefits. Cooking with onions from our vegetable garden has a particular flavour, isn’t it?
There are several methods to grow your own onions. You can do it from a piece of another onion that you replant or from a set of tiny onion bulbs or seeds.
Preparing the soil
Step 1: Choose an open space in your garden that gets plenty of sun. Onions do not require strict sunlight conditions, but they need at least partial exposure to grow.
Step 2: Time to dig the soil. Spring onions thrive in soft, well-drained soils. Clay-based soils or other heavy, dense soils may not be ideal. You can use a shovel to complete your work the same day or you can do it gradually by raking it every day for several weeks before planting them.
Step 3: Add fertiliser to help them grow and flourish. A generic fertiliser should suffice, but you can also use an organic type if you are concerned about the potential effects of chemicals on the soil and your vegetables.
Step 4: Check the pH of the soil. Use a litmus test or other tests to determine the acidity or base level of your soil. Onions need a pH of between 6 and 7.5 to grow. Reduce pH by adding manure or compost. Increase the pH by adding lime.
Growing onions from seeds
Growing spring onions from seed has the advantage of allowing you to experiment with varieties that aren’t readily available in the supermarket. From March to August, sow spring onion seeds three times a week. Eight weeks after sowing, harvesting will typically begin. Sow seeds in September and over the winter for an early spring harvest.
Step 1: Plant the seeds at any time between March and July. The seeds of onions germinate better when the climate is mild. You got to wait until the last frost of the season has passed, but don’t wait too long.
Step 2: Dig shallow rows. They should be no more than 1.5 cm deep and spaced at least 10-15 cm apart.
Step 3: Put the seeds in the rows. Allow at least 25 mm between them to allow for growth and ripening of the spring onions.
Step 4: Lightly cover the seeds with the soil. Put enough to fill the rows to protect the seeds from atmospheric agents and natural predators, such as birds.
Step 5: Spread the seeds all over the lawn without digging. Keep them finely scattered and rake the soil when finished. You got to cover the seeds with 1.5 cm of soil.
Step 6: Continue to sow after each harvest throughout the growing season. You can sow along the duplicate rows or spread the seeds freely.
Step 7: Plant a winter-resistant variety in late summer or early fall (August or early September). The growth of these spring onions takes longer, and they will be ready to be harvested around March or May.
Growing onions from bulbs
Onion bulbs are available in most specialised shops and they could be a faster method to get your homemade spring onions. It’s easy to grow onions from bulbs if you follow these steps:
Step 1: Plant the bulbs at any time between spring and early summer. Wait until after the last frost, but before the intense summer heat.
Step 2: Dig a row of small holes at least 25 mm apart. Each hole must be large enough to hold a bulb.
Step 3: Prepare the rows the way you want them. Leave a space of about 10-15 cm between them.
Step 4: Put a bulb in each hole. The stem of the bulb should be oriented upwards as the edible green leaves emerge from it.
Step 5: Add more soil around the bulb to hold it in place.
Growing for and harvesting spring onions
Once you’ve planted the bulbs or seeds, half of the job is done. However, you might need to put in some more effort to be proud of your spring onions crop!
- Water the onions if the soil is dry.
- Keep the area free from weeds. The most robust spring onions will grow in a weed-free space.
- Lay mulch to retain moisture and prevent the soil from drying out too quickly.
- Apply a water-soluble, liquid fertiliser when needed.
- Check for pests on your plants. Since spring onions mature rapidly, they are less susceptible to pests than other onion varieties.
- Watch for signs of disease.
- Harvest spring onions after eight weeks.
- Remove the onion in its entirety.
When and how to sow spring onions
Onions are a popular vegetable in the home garden because it has a wide variety of uses, their cultivation is easy and requires very little space. They have a short growing season, which means that you can start harvesting them in autumn or spring and drying them and keeping them for winter.
Sow spring onions in the vegetable garden
Any healthy fertile soil that is well-drained can grow spring onions. Prepare the field ahead of time by fine draining the soil and applying a granular general-purpose fertiliser a week before you intend to plant. Sow thinly with 1.5cm deep drills spaced 15cm apart. Spring onions won’t need to be thinned because they’ll be pulled and added to salads in a matter of weeks.
Since waterlogged soil causes spring onions to rot, make sure to plant them in well-drained soil to avoid such troubles. Don’t forget that spring onions despise rivalry, so weeds must be kept at bay.
How to sow them in case of container gardening
Spring onions may also be planted in containers or pots on the windowsill. Fill the container with compost until it is about 3 cm from the top, then gently scatter seeds over the surface and cover with 1.5 cm of compost. Water only as needed to keep the soil moist, and you’ll have a tasty crop in no time.
Small bulbs are suitable for salads and stir-fries, but some varieties can mature into bigger ones, normal-sized onions if you leave them long enough. In hot weather, beware of “bolting”! You need to snip off any flowering heads as soon as they appear, or your onions will be smaller but still edible. Spring onions overwinter well. If you sow them from late August to October, you’ll have an excellent early crop of crisp salad vegetables by the end of the season.
Why not try growing spring onions now that you know how? These crunchy alliums are a must-have for your garden because they’re versatile, tasty, and rich in nutrients.
Some extra tips for growing spring onions
Although the onions are pretty resistant, you might find these gardening tips useful:
- The plants should be watered lightly and regularly. Onions do not need water throughout their growth, but especially during bulb formation. The watering must be done mainly 20 days before the harvest.
- Onions can be affected by certain infections and diseases. It is advisable to associate planting onions with radishes that offer natural protection.
- Onion bulbs are also not spared by certain insects, including root flies in particular. Insecticide soaps are effective in removing them quickly.
- Onions do not withstand sudden temperature differences. It is essential to ensure that their environment is between 15 and 25 degrees Celsius.
- Weeds can also interfere with the proper development of the bulb. To remove them, it is advisable to use a hoe instead of tearing them by hand. This gesture helps preserve the bulbs.
- Never discard the green leaves of the fresh onion. By cutting them very finely, you can use them to flavour your Asian dishes or use them instead of chives in your salads.
- Instead of taking the whole plant out, why not leave some spring onions after the last harvest? In summer, they will form spherical flowers – pretty to the eye and a real feast for bees and insects.
Having fresh veggies from your garden is a dream come true for many gardeners. We use onions every day, so it’s only natural to give this plant special attention in our veggie garden. Spring onions are easy to grow and they don’t need too much attention. Then you can enjoy their many health benefits, thanks to the high content of vitamin A, B, C, mineral salts and antioxidants. Overall, it is a low-calorie food with a delicious taste! If you find this guide useful, check our guide on how to grow peas, oyster mushrooms, thyme, rosemary and broccoli!