When to plant onion sets – and the exact amount of time you’ll have to wait before harvest

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Onions are the perfect vegetable to grow in any British garden. The time is coming to plant onion sets so you can enjoy homegrown onions in the summer. Here’s everything you need to know about growing onions.

One of Britain’s most versatile vegetables, onions are a very easy and rewarding vegetable to grow in your garden.

The easiest and most popular way to grow onions is from immature bulbs called sets.

You can plant onions from seeds, but most gardeners prefer the ease of planting onion sets.

Onions grown from sets tend to produce a crop earlier and are slightly hardier against disease.

When should you plant onion sets?

While onion sets are becoming available around now, to be safe you should wait to plant them for a few weeks.

Temperatures should be mild enough to plant onion sets between mid-March and mid-April.

You can pick up onion sets from most garden centres, or order them online.

However, before you plant onion sets, you should prepare your soil so it’s an optimum growing environment for your bulbs.

Because onions have a limited root system, improving the soil with plenty of compost or well-rotted manure will give your bulbs an advantage before they’re even planted.

Dig in about a bucket of compost or manure per square metre.

This will add much-needed nutrients to the soil while helping the structure and moisture retention of this patch.

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Adding a handful of high-potassium fertiliser per square metre will also help your onions to thrive.

When it comes to planting the sets, you want to push the bulb in about 2 centimetres, so you will just about be able to see the tip poking above ground.

Space the sets between five and 10 centimetres apart, and make sure to pat down the soil around the freshly-planted bulbs to firm them up.

Birds can be a threat to your newly-planted onion sets, so it’s a good idea to cover them with fleece until they’ve taken root.

If pests and soil drying out are issues, you might even consider getting a black plastic mulch.

If you go for this option, prepare your soil as suggested and then cover the patch with the black plastic, cutting holes where you plant your bulbs.

When will my onions be ready to harvest?

A sign your onions are almost ready to harvest is the foliage turning yellow.

Onions planted in the spring should be ready to pull up and enjoy in late summer or early autumn.

To remove them from the ground, just carefully lift them out using a fork as a lever.

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