Growing our own vegetables at home is not only therapeutic, it’s a great way to feed the family on healthy produce! Spring onions are one of the most popular vegetable variants to grow in the home environment. Not only are they low maintenance, but they can also be added to numerous dishes, including both salads and stir-fries.
What are spring onions?
Spring onions come in the shape of mild onions, usually enjoyed raw in salads, to add flavour to soups, or to provide an additional crunch to stir-fries.
The white bulbs boast a subtle onion flavour, whilst the lengthy hollow leaves can add extra colour and texture to a variety of dishes when thinly sliced. They’re very similar to scallions and green onions, with the main difference being that they feature a small bulb, which sits at the base of the plant.
Growing spring onions – the basics
In certain countries, including England, every green onion is alluded to as a spring onion. When it comes to growing them, they can either be grown from bulbs or from seeds.
Once you have planted your seeds or bulbs, to ensure they thrive, you must keep the soil both free from weeds and moisture.
Why are spring onions so popular?
As we’ve mentioned, these vegetables are extremely low-maintenance and are very easy to grow, even for beginner gardeners. They’re also a speedy option and promise to be ready to harvest within eight weeks of planting.
These factors make spring onions a preferred option for gardeners of all levels. Another reason for their popularity? They also make a great ‘filler crop’ and many will often plant them between rows of vegetables that tend to grow at a much slower pace.
Which spring onion type should I opt for?
One of the main advantages of growing your very own spring onions directly from seed is the choice available. Instead of traditional variants, you can try your hand at growing assortments not available in your local supermarket.
For best results, and if you’re new to the world of spring onions, opt for a solid all-rounder. If planting in the winter months, you’ll need to choose a variant that is hardier. Some of the most popular options include:
- The Spring Onion ‘Feast F1 Hybrid’ variant can be harvested throughout the entirety of the summer months and is a great option for those looking for a variant that promises a series of successful sowings.
- If you’re an amateur gardener, the Spring Onion ‘White Lisbon’ is your best bet. It’s also a good choice for those looking for a variant to plant in the winter months that boasts a short cropping period.
- The Spring Onion ‘Apache’ is a red spring onion variant that boasts a crisp texture and a fragrant flavour – an ideal choice for the chef in the house! Most will use this onion in salads to add flavour and colour to the dish.
- Another great choice for the chef, the Spring Onion ‘Pompeii’ variant comes in the form of silver-skinned spring onion, perfect for pickling and as a garnish for cocktails.
When should you sow spring onions?
For optimum results, it’s wise to sow spring onion seeds during the months of March and August. You should sow the seeds at three weekly intervals. Harvesting tends to begin approximately eight weeks post sowing.
If you’re looking to accomplish an early spring crop, sow your seeds in September and throughout the winter, although you’ll want to ensure you have the more hardy variants.
Tips on sowing and growing spring onions
It’s important to invest in well-drained, good fertile soil if you want your new spring onions to thrive. Before sowing the seeds, it’s important to prepare the ground.
This involves ensuring your soil boasts a fine tilth. This is the point you should add a quality, granular all-purpose fertilizer to the mix. This should be done a week in advance of sowing your spring onion seeds.
When it’s time to sow the seeds, make small holes measuring 1.5cm deep. These should be positioned at a distance of 15cm from each other. To avoid rot, ensure you never over-water your spring onions.
Too much water can lead to waterlogged soil, which can be detrimental to your new crop’s health. This is when investing in well-drained soil is imperative.
It’s also important to ensure the soil is weed-free, as, like the majority of onions, spring onions detest competition. If planting in a garden where birds are an issue, you will need to protect young seedlings using horticultural fleece or an alternative.
If planting indoors, you can sow the seeds into small pots or containers and place them on a windowsill. For best results, fill with compost, stopping 3 cm from the top of the vessel, before then lightly scattering the seeds over the surface of the compost.
Add another 1.5cm of soil to cover the newly planted seeds. To encourage a tasty, healthy crop, water sparingly, ensuring the soil stays moist but not oversaturated.
More top tips when growing spring onions
Depending on the type of spring onions you wish to grow, growing tips vary. If you wish to add your crop to stir-fries and salads, small bulbs are a great option. There are however several larger variants on the market, some of which will only grow to a bigger plant if left long enough.
To avoid this, especially if the weather is extremely hot, prune flowering heads as soon as you spot them as that will encourage a smaller crop.
Spring onions are a great plant for beginners and those looking for a bulb that can be planted over the winter months, as they can provide access to an early crop, just in time for salad season.
Provided that you follow a few handy tips and tricks, these plants are extremely easy-to-grow, versatile, and promise a nutritious, delicious, crunchy crop – a must for every home vegetable garden.
Sources: thompson-morgan.com, wikihow.com, rhs.org.uk