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The answer... try to store them as above, and chop, sweat and freeze some for use in soups/stews etc. Use all the onion family in season, i.e. onions from august to xmas, then shallots (which seem to keep better) followed by leeks straight from the ground till spring. Spring onions can be used till the summer crops, and don't forget chives, which can be cut and frozen as they are or chopped into ice cubes. it makes for interesting cooking, i like French onion soup in early autumn, roast shallots with sunday dinners in winter and cock a leekie in january, but Bolognese made with leeks is surprisingly good.
I have previously stored them in an unheated greenhouse in trays over a few, relatively frost free winters. Can anyone advise on whether they will withstand a period of below freezing weather.
To recap in order - August, sow winter onion seeds; September, prepare bed; October, sow garlic cloves and Japanese winter onion sets; November, transplant Japanese winter onion seedlings; January/February plant out Japanese winter onion seedlings; March, plant out main crop sets; June/July, bend over and lift Japanese Onions; September/October, bend over (if needed) and lift main crop onions.
By lifting I mean to just lift the onions from the soil, leave for a fortnight then place somewhere warm and dry to dry before storing in sacks or in ropes.
Use the Japanes ones first. Make sure they are physically dry and keep in a fridge or cool place until needed, they should keep for about a month.
Main crops when dried as described I find keep until early summer, when you have the Japanese ones to take over.