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I've never thought about the savings from growing from sets. Onions at less than 1p sound good to me!
I've been growing "White Lisbon" onions from seeds for spring onions for salad and omelettes for donkey's years, Adam, and, after thinning the rows out to use, I leave the rest to grow into big onions. It must be the Scots in me! But your advice is needed so much now that money is tight everywhere.
I grew onions last year from sets that my husband bought from a car boot sale for 10p, they grew really well and we had a really good crop. I've planted Autumn onion sets that we got from a discount store in Morecambe for 45p. They are doing very well. So you can still save money if you shop around, you don't have to always buy from expensive garden centres etc. After all, times are hard and friends are few.
Growing onions from seeds are really good option, and its also saves money....Which is the best part....Thanks for the suggestion...
I found some old onion seeds in a tin whilst having a spring clean. In a spare patch of ground, I threw these down with some other bits and pieces and I have just discovered a crop of onions amongst some annual flowers that had finished.....it was a lovely surprise! I have found more success with seeds than sets but 'donutsmrs' is right - shopping around can really pay off.

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I have never been able to grow decent sized onions from seeds, but I think not watering enough is my downfall.
Always been tempted to grow onions from seed as there seems to be more verieties to try! so next year i'm going to give it a go!
Having seen the onions that won the prizes at our allotment site show this year, I've now bought my packet of seeds ready to sow on Boxing Day. I'm looking to be up there with the winners next year!
i am growing onion and garlic and everybody with good size garden need to try,because is organic and cheap.
i always grow my onions from seed 150 seeds in a packet. i would say easy 140 every year. sow exmas day. success was 6 1/2 lbs.per onion.
I will give onion seeds a try, i grow my sets in pots and get a fare crop i have a smallish garden and need the ground for other crops i also grow garlic, i like organic veg they do seem taste better.
I grow Elsa Craig from seed each year and always get a great crop of large onions, I plant the seeds in an old plastic mushroom container from the supermarket in November, stab the bottom with a pointed knife for drainage That's it, in Feb thin to single onion plants and plant out, very hardy and a great tasting onion.
Might give that a try, though I won first in class at the village show with onions grown from sets planted last Autumn! I've planted my Autumn onion sets already and they are doing well but I may just give the seeds a go too. Thanks. http://archers-at-the-larches.blogspot.com/2011/09/village-show-and-prize-twit.html
The other thing is of course that you get more varieties from seed.

I think that generally onions from seed also store better?

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I find that onions grown from seed store better

With Franchi seeds you get well over 1000 seeds so it would cost actually 4 onions for 1p making sets cost 40 times more than the seeds!!!
Do you want so many onions as the 250 in a packet? have you counted in the cost of the propagator? What is the failure rate of seeds against sets? The figures may back seeds v sets, but I suspect not by the order of magnitude you suggest.
Adam Pasco
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Thank Paolo. Yes, some packets of seed provide even better value, and deliver even greater savings! Certainly worth considering when trying to keep costs down and increase productivity.

And I think this answers the point raised above questioning returns, as it looks as if returns can be of an even greater magnitude, not lower.

I planted sets last spring, and they were very late to harvest, in the end I lifted them toward the end of October as I was afraid they'd get hit with the cold snap that was forcast.  They were a great success.  I planted Elisa Craig seeds in modular trays in the autumn & they're overwintering on my front porch where it's sheltered & I'll plant them on when I've ground ready & I'll also put down some sets in the spring and compare results.