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My onions have been pretty disastrous this year. They were put in as sets and none of them have made any decent size, with some not getting much larger than when they were put in, before the tops did the usual thing of flopping over and starting to die back.

Some of them which made a vaguely useable size have been harvested. The rest have either rotted and some have sent up new shoots and are growing again. I'm wondering what to do with these ones with the new growth.

I suspect if I leave them in, the bulbs won't increase in size, but that they will just flower next year.

Thoughts from people on this?


  • EmerionEmerion Posts: 566
    I think you’re right and that they will flower and die. They may be trying to do that already, although of course the winter will stop them for a bit. It was probably the dodgy weather that we had this year that caused your problems, do you think? Many gardeners say that onions from seed cause less problems, for what it’s worth. 
    Carmarthenshire (mild, wet, windy). Loam over shale, very slightly sloping, so free draining. Mildly acidic or neutral.

  • It's the first time I personally have tried to grow onions in these beds so I'm not sure of the reason. They all got away ok, and put on plenty of healthy leaf growth initially, but just never made any size.

    I think I might sow some onion seed in modules in the greenhouse this autumn, ready for planting out next year.
  • ColinAColinA Posts: 386
    I always start my onion sets off in quite deep plug trays in the greenhouse in the middle of April and plant out when the tops are about 4 - 6 ins high, this year i lost about 30 due to white rot on the roots.
  • LynLyn Posts: 23,080
    If they’ve started the die back they won’t get any bigger,  why not grow from seeds next year,  they’re very easy I grow them every year,  you get hundreds of seeds for 99p,  they’ll last you a couple of years. 
    In fact, I had just plaited some and hung them up, I’m useless at that, they’re on the floor now😀
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • Our onion sets took many many weeks before they started to do anything.
    Not sure why.
    However they made up for it by giving us the best harvest of onions in years.
    We did try seeds one year and very disappointing.
  • LynLyn Posts: 23,080
    That was a shame @bertrand-mabel. I tried sets many years ago and wasn't impressed.

    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • SkandiSkandi Posts: 1,721
    My onions were terrible this year I had a lot that only got marginally bigger than the sets that I planted. I don't find that seeds do any better than sets. Sets come ready a couple of weeks earlier than seeds and don't require to be sown in Feb under lights so I stick to sets now, even though seeds are cheaper and produce about the same crop.
  • nick615nick615 Posts: 1,500
    I'd persist with sets, on the basis that they're supposedly already germinated.  I've also never had a failure using them.  Because of the rather long development cycle, my onion bed always became clogged with weeds, and pulling them out often disturbed the onions too.  I therefore came up with the idea of making holes in a sheet of a weed suppressant - black plastic initially, then roofing felt - through which to plant the sets but hold back the weeds.  The first year, I had a bumper crop and a local chap suggested the reason could be a slight rise in ground temperature, courtesy of the covering.  Pic of sheet attached.
  • LynLyn Posts: 23,080
    I sow the seeds in paper tubes, one seed in each,  cutting the roots and tops  back a bit when you plant them out,  they germinate very quickly if you sow indoors in March.
    I do the same with leeks but they’re still in ground. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • nick615nick615 Posts: 1,500
    Lyn  How big do your leeks get before you plant them out?  All the blurb on them seems to quote 'pencil' size, but I've never got any further than biro refill size, by which time they're 12-13 inches long and I get them out.  Could I be sowing them too thickly? 
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