Keeping to tradition for onion sowing

Chrysanthemums made a pleasant festive vase display. Picture by Tom Pattinson.
Chrysanthemums made a pleasant festive vase display. Picture by Tom Pattinson.

My first sowing for the 2018 growing season is bound in tradition – decent-sized onions for home use or exhibition that hit the compost on Boxing Day.

The tray is filled with soil-based compost, which is levelled-out. Shallow drills are made with the edge of a ruler, the seeds sown thinly and covered with vermiculite. After watering overhead with can and rose attachment, the tray needs to stand in circa 15C until germination occurs.

Starting onions so early dictates that modest warmth and good light conditions will be provided beyond the seedling stage to keep the growth process ticking over.

Is this not too early for sowing onions? Not really. Enthusiastic exhibitors almost sow next year’s potential giants as they’re winning a late show with whoppers from the current crop. Providing artificial heat and supplementary lighting in support is almost essential.

Leaf lettuce plants in the greenhouse border have developed sufficiently for the first small leaves to be picked, and the final bunch of late chrysanthemums made a pleasant vase for the festivities.

Next week the remaining stems will be pruned to near ground level, the plants dug up and placed in deep trays with re-used compost. By mid-February they will have made new shoots ideal for rooting as stem cuttings.