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Small onions.

We moved to this house three years ago. The first spring, I dug out some of the grass to make some space for veg. The results in the first year were okay, not spectacular, but okay. Last year was not as good. Some things, radish, beetroot etc seemed fine, but the onions were poor, larger than when we set them, but ping pong ball sized at harvest. This year, worse, the other things seemed to grow fine, but the onions are even smaller, larger than when the sets went in but perhaps 2cm at best. I've only taken a few up, but the results are obvious. Can I leave the remaining onions in the ground over winter so they can have another full season?

We have used an organic fertilizer each year which claims to be best, well, it would wouldn't it, and certainly other roots have done well again. It is the onions that are the mystery.



  • WelshonionWelshonion Posts: 3,114

    Sounds like they are hungry.  If you leave them to grow on, likely they will bolt.

  • Have you improved the soil too? I started with heavy clay and each year if I can I chuck a load of compost or rotted manure or soil improver on, plus pelleted chicken manure for nutrients.

  • I live in the North East of Sjælland Island, Denmark, soil here is clay, very heavy. Perhaps we are just not suited to onions here, other roots seem to do well though, our beetroot are enormous.

  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 8,299

    We are SE UK, soil here was heavy clay, treated ourself to a rotivator in the end, plenty of organic stuff homemakde compost, manure in the autumn, have always had realy good size onions Sturon were the best, but i have to admit every garden we have had apart from one which we left in 2000, there have always been things that refused to grwo.  What are your temperatures like in spring and summer?

  • BLTBLT Posts: 525

    I had a bumper crop the very first year I grew onions cos I planted the sets on top of a trench filled with poultry manure.. Sadly do not have chickens any more so  I used pelleted poultry manure not so good..

    The problem was they bolted early due to a hot dry period in Apeil.. I had a friend water them for me whilst I was away, they skipped every other day and the onions seemed to object lol... 

    I have already planted my onions and garlic to over winter. I am watering until they establish.. I am trying a dry fertilizer this time and will use Liquid Miracle gro to boost them and maybe they will be bigger..I am using Red, White and Yellow types.. Squirrels nicked all the reds last year..They left the garlic lol.

    Last edited: 15 October 2017 23:18:19

  • >>> temperatures

    We are told to expect frosts and/or snow through March and early April. The date generally given as the one after which we can set summer plants out is 10th May. It warms as the year moves on, maybe 10C earlier up to 20C with perhaps a few days, which often occur in brief spells with perhaps 25C for three or four days before passing.

    I had not taken the rest of the onions up and this morning saw that a few had actually appeared again and were an inch or two high.

    >>> squirrels

    We have the red squirrels here not the grey, which I think were an introduction from the USA. You see them in woodland but quite rarely. I've never seen any around here, the nearest wooded area is perhaps 4-500m away.

    Last edited: 07 November 2017 10:19:45

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,298

    Take all your onions up and dry them ... or cook and freeze as it sounds as if they may not store well. If you leave them in over the winter they'll just produce flowers and seed next year.

    Onions grow best on light sandy soil ... I think you'll struggle to get good crops of onions on heavy clay.

    On the other hand, dense clay soil is very good for Brussels sprouts image

    Last edited: 07 November 2017 10:55:59

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • In England I tried a few cabbage and cabbage like plants a few times, I stopped bothering because they were swarmed over by catepillars. It is colder here, but there are still loads of butterflies in the summer, so would expect the same issues.

    I have favoured onions since back then, they have few pests and we use loads of them, but the soil here is very heavy, rain forms small pools which take days to sink in or more likely evaporate. Perhaps we will have to rethink things.

    Beetroot and radishes seem to do very well in the stuff. I've not tried carrots, these were, again, problematic when I tried in England. They became infested with root boring worms, I think they are called saw flies.

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 82,298

    Again carrots do best in light free-draining soil ... my brother is a vegetable farmer and grows carrots and onions  (among other things) on a large scale for the supermarkets ... he grows them on the light sandy land of coastal Suffolk.  Carrots also do well in the light peaty soil of the Fens.  

    It sounds to me as if your carrots in the UK suffered from eelworm. 

    To avoid caterpillar attack on brassicas I use insect netting ... I make a structure of canes, but you can make or buy a framework. this also has the advantage of keeping the pigeons off the brassicas. 

    Make sure the netting is far enough above the plants to prevent the butterflies laying eggs on the leaves through the netting.

    Last edited: 07 November 2017 12:39:57

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • I looked at that. I don't think they were eelworms. The worms I saw in Hampshire buried themselves into the carrot roots. It looks like the root grows balls or tumours perhaps around the eelworm.

    I don't think my wife would like netting the patch.

    We'll probably just stick to what we know is okay.

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