Start Off Onion Sets

Onions are one of the easiest things to grow and do not take up much space in the garden, so they are perfect for a beginner to try, and a simple activity to do with children. 

As the soil is still a bit cold for planting into, you can start onion sets off indoors in modules towards the end of February so that by the time you come to plant them out in the garden they will already have started into growth. Starting onion sets off now will give you something to look forward to later in the year, when you will be pulling fresh onions right from your own garden.

Onions can be grown from seeds or from sets. Sets are just immature onion bulbs and if this is your first time growing onions, start with sets which look like a small bulb with a pointy end and a flatter plate end. It is the flatter end of the bulb which goes into the soil with the pointy end sticking upwards.

If you fancy trying to grow your own onions this year, here’s what you need to do. Once you have got everything and are ready to start, this job will literally take you 10 minutes.

All you need is some onion sets which you could order online, a general multi-purpose compost is fine to start you off, a modular tray, and a watering can. If you don’t have a modular tray, you could use small pots or even empty yoghurt tubs and pop one onion set in each.

Fill the modular trays with compost. Just throw it in roughly and then use your hand to level off any excess soil at the top.

Pop the onion sets in, one to a module, with the pointy end facing upwards. Give them a little wiggle in with your fingers so just the tips are protruding. If you feel you have not used enough compost in each module, give them a gentle top up now.

Give the whole tray a light water using a watering can with a rose attachment. The attachment just makes the water flow out more slowly, and in smaller quantities, so it does not displace the newly planted onions.

Let the water drain through and then take your onions to a warm, light spot where they will start to grow on, forming roots and green shoots. You do not need to have a greenhouse, a windowsill is totally fine. This means that when the soil warms up enough to plant the onions sets out, hopefully in 4-6 weeks, your onions will already be off to a roaring start.

Homegrown, low maintenance, free from pesticides or chemicals, and racking up zero miles in your carbon footprint – go on, try setting a few onions and let us know on our Facebook or Instagram page how you get on!

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