Onions are a hugely popular vegetable and have many uses in the kitchen. They are also an easy veg to grow and a great one for beginners. Onions grow best in an open, sunny site with plenty of space, but you can also plant them in deep containers.
Despite the painful weeping eyes when we cut into them, onions are incredibly good for your health, being packed full of nutrients that can help you live a healthier lifestyle. They are an excellent source of Vitamin C and minerals like potassium, sodium and iron. Onions also contain pectin, which can help to prevent colon cancer and the flavonoid quercetin, which has anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to treat arthritis.
Onions are usually grown from small, immature bulbs known as sets. You can also grow them from seeds. This method is cheaper, but the plants take longer to establish and can have varied results.
Onions grow well on an open site on fertile, well-drained medium to light soil
Plant Mar – Apr, Harvest Jul, Aug, Sep
Any soft or spotted bulbs should be used in the kitchen as soon as possible, but the others may be stored. You can either hang them in nets or plait them together using the foliage.
Store the bulbs in a cool, dry place with good light. In these conditions they should keep for between three to six months. Check them often and remove any damaged or bruised onions.
Did you know?
Onions contain a chemical irritant that makes you cry when you cut them. Stop the tear-jerking by refrigerating onions before you cut them to reduce how much is released.
Stop onions from ‘bolting’ (running to seed) by reducing the ‘stress’ the plant is under. Plants become stressed when conditions change dramatically, so keep well-watered in hot weather.