Out of sight, out of mind onions

Weedy bed: My Rumba onions ready to be harvested ' small but perfectly formed. The giants in the foreground are the Shimonita spring onions.
Weedy bed: My Rumba onions ready to be harvested ' small but perfectly formed. The giants in the foreground are the Shimonita spring onions.
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I FOULED up – the first rule of growing onions is keep the plot weed free.

As their leaves are held upright, they aren’t good at supressing weed growth, which causes damaging competition and you get smaller bulbs.

Onions, beause they’re easy to grow, tend to get plonked into a raised bed, have a bit of allium food chucked at them occasionally and the odd massive weed gets pulled out.

The Rumba onions have been very “out of sight, out of mind” this year, hidden away behind the 8ft “hedge” of runner beans.

They are in the top raised bed, furthest from the house, near to the new early spring beds.

As these plants are mostly resting – and in their first year – they need another wave of planting to boost their interest (but that’s another story).

As you can see, there’s weeds everywhere, mostly chickweed, and their leaves have flopped and died back.

I should have picked these a couple of weeks ago, but hey, they’ll be fine.

Don’t bend over the leaves to speed up the dying back process – it can cause weak areas for disease to enter the plant and take hold.

These bulbs are very late – if yours are, don’t worry. It’s been a topsy-turvy year.

Take your lead from the plants, not books or idiots like me.

They’re also very small. This is necessity on my part – I halve the recommended growing distance so I can fit more sets in.

You get smaller, but much stronger onions – real eye-waterers!

Pick them on a dry day and lay them on top of the soil to dry a bit.

Those in warmer climes would leave them outdoors in a warm, dry place for a couple of weeks.

That’s rarely possible here, so I use the greenhouse racks, again in the conservatory, but out of the sun.

Leave the foliage intact and don’t hang them in nets or plait them until everything is bone dry.

If any have thick necks, use these first, as they won’t store and are prone to neck rot.

Once dried, keep them in a dark, cool, dry place – a garage or cellar is ideal.

Depending on the variety, they should last three-six months.

Here are the basics of curing:

* Sun dry for just a short time.

* Cure just the onions you’ll store; separate the soft, young and thick-necked bulbs and use them first.

* Cure thoroughly in a warm, well-ventilated area away from direct sun.

* Don’t crowd onions during curing; give them room to breathe.

* Onion bulbs are ready to store when their skins rattle and the roots have gone dry and wiry.