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The benefits of growing onions are many, for me the main advantage is the fact that they are organic. I also like to grow onions over winter and the only successful way to do this is with sets. So here we go, how to grow onions from onion sets.
What Are Onion Sets?
Onion sets are small onions that have been started as seeds in a commercial nursery and sold on at the size of a bulb. The advantage of using sets over seeds are:
- They are big enough to plant at the right distance accurately
- They have already germinated so you can be sure they’ll grow
- They have grown to the size of a 18 week seedling
- They will over winter
- They are less prone to disease
The main disadvantage is there aren’t that many variety of onions grown as sets so choice is limited. If you want a greater choice then consider growing from seed. However growing from sets allows for Autumn planting and that’s what I’m after right now.
How To Grow Onions From Onion Sets
Prepare your ground as you would for most crops. Pull any weeds, rake over the soil until it’s even and ready for sowing.
Then mark out rows about 12 inches apart so that you can walk between them to weed.
If you don’t have a measure handy use the rake. Just push the head of the rake gently into the soil. You’ll find it leaves an impression in the soil which is roughly 12 inches.
Do this the length of your row then use your rake to mark a straight line.
Planting Distances For Onion Sets
Plant Onion sets about 4 inches apart, this is roughly the distance from your thumb to your little finger when your hand is out stretched.
In the above picture the rake impressions are clearly visible. Once you have done this just fill the soil around the sets just leaving the pointy tips of the sets and gently firm the soil around the sets.
Protecting The Sets
Once you have planted your onion sets and watered them in, they need protecting. Birds see the little pointy tops and think they’re some sort of insect food for them and pull them up.
They don’t eat them, just leave them to die so, just for the first month I cover them with a fleece. This should be long enough for the sets to throw some roots into the soil which anchors them in place.
Then remove the fleece, and allow your onions to grow.
As they are over wintering, you don’t need to water them unless it is very dry. I like to spread some chicken pellet fertilizer around to give them a boost but other than that they should be good to go come May/June.