London (change)
18 messages
05/10/2013 at 09:41

I'm just about to clear a raised bed that has had mange-tout in. I'm about to plant my onion sets, but have been reading contradictory advice about using compost/manure etc before planting onions. Thoughts please

05/10/2013 at 10:43

My onion bed this year had sweetcorn on last year. It had some compost last year but was dreadful- a mix of shale, clay, and sand used as a base for a pigeon shed. Pigeons now gone, so to improve it I gave it a 6 inch layer of very well rotted horse manure, with a dressing of 1kg(shovel full) per square yard of rock dust for micronutrients, 100g (cupful)per square yard of calcified seaweed, 100g per sq yard of fish blood and bone.  I then mixed it up well, forking it over twice. I then planted  onion plants  I grew from seed into it, and watered them in.

 For results see verduns onion thread


05/10/2013 at 21:49

Very nice crop Fidgetbones. I don't have a greenhouse only a cold frame, can I sow onion seed in it in February given the nights will be frosty or must I wait for better weather. Sowed onion seed for the first time this year and results were mixed. It was a bit late when I started them 22 april.

05/10/2013 at 23:06

Onion seed is traditionally sown on boxing day, but I find its ok at beginning of Feb. My greenhouse has heater but only on a frost stat.onions don't need much heat, but you might struggle with only a cold frame. I moved them into a polytunnel with no heating once they were past the bent leaf stage.

05/10/2013 at 23:07

Verdun bought plants and had a good crop.

06/10/2013 at 14:29

Have some seeds left over will try succession sowing from Feb onwards. some must be successful. Thanks for the advice.

06/10/2013 at 17:50

Sowing successionally is a good idea for many veg and is something I always try to do but often end up forgetting some things.  Or run out of labels, so I don't know whether it's 6 summer cabbage plants or broccoli etc etc when the seeds germinate  I'll get organised one day.  Maybe.

06/10/2013 at 18:42

I think with onion seeds, the earlier the better. Succession sowing works for salad onions, but not if you want big bulbs for storing.

18/10/2013 at 17:41

Hi Daisy

In reply to your question I can only say that  based on that same advice I had read many years ago, I haver never planted onion sets where I have just manured.  I  usually plant them where I have grown lettuces, tomatoes,  spinach or brassicas which will have been manured/composted earlier in year or the previous autumn for those crops.That routine seems to produce a great crop of onions.  I might try planting them in a small patch of manured ground this autumn just out of curiosity to see what happens.

Good luck. Hope this helps


18/10/2013 at 18:24

The manure has to be very well rotted. This had been stacked for over a year, and had the texture of peat.

18/10/2013 at 18:36

I do it differently.  I do incorporate plenty of compost, manure etc into the onion bed.  I do it about now.  In early spring I consolidate the soil and add organic fertiliser like fish blood and bone.  When I plant out sets or onion plants they then go into firm well raked soil.  I get good size onions

18/10/2013 at 19:06

Onions are greedy feeders so adding anything rich in nutrients to the soil will help.  I also use fish, blood and bone and mix a few good handfulls into a bucket of home made compostm with each set getting a trowelfull when they are planted out (I start them in modules in the cold GH.)   The resulting onions are pretty consistently tennis-ball sized, sometimes larger.

18/10/2013 at 21:46

I wonder where the "thou shalt not add manure or compost" theory came from then

18/10/2013 at 21:57

I think a lot of people order   FYM and when it is delivered it is still too fresh and needs stacking and rotting down., But they put it on anyway and then have problems.

18/10/2013 at 21:57

Used fish blood and bone this year for my sets and had a great crop. Will follow this years potatoes with Brassicas and Roots, two plots. Alliums to follow this years roots, hence the need for fertilizer.

18/10/2013 at 22:01

I usually like to plant a batch of sets at the allotment at this time of year  I know the theory is that you don't gain anything by it and that both new year and autumn varieties harvest quite close together in the end but I hate seeing bare soil over the winter months,  But Bob's routine sounds rather good.  Only problem is, I have too many things on the go in the greenhouse at the beginning of the year.  I presume you are not talking about starting off with modules in autumn Bob?

18/10/2013 at 23:27

No, Madeleine, I start them off in Spring.  I've tried Autumn planting with a few things (onions and broad beans come to mind) but they never do very well for me - having clay soil probably doesn't help - I would imagine if you have lighter, better drained soil it would worth trying though.

18/10/2013 at 23:31

My autumn onion sets were a disaster  last waste of space.

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