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Author Topic: growing over winter onions  (Read 2420 times)


  • Joined Jul 2022
growing over winter onions
« on: October 07, 2022, 06:45:42 am »
im stepping up my veg growing (well, not playing at at by growing an handful of things).
i plan to plant over winter onions. trouble is i have heavy clay that being realistic isnt digable.
i thought of buying soil in and doing no dig. its going to cost nearly 1k just to grow my onions. obviously thats insane. especially as i am waiting to move in 2 years time to a property ive bought elsewhere.

i have mainly horse manure (it has poultry, sheep and goat manure as well). im growing my potatoes this way with ok results this year.

i am waisting my money sticking them in t he ground


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • ScotHebs
Re: growing over winter onions
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2022, 01:25:34 pm »
How many overwintering onions do you want to grow?  How many do you need before the spring grown ones will be ready? Depending on where you are, Japanese onions (overwintering) are not always a success.

Heavy clay soil is one of the few good reasons to grow crops in raised beds but it can be expensive if you do it the wrong way.  It seems that if you concentrate on converting one bed with intense work then you can make clay soil useable.  I grew up on a clay soil farm which grew crops very successfully, with sometimes the odd soggy corner to annoy my Dad, because we added loads and loads of well rotted farmyard manure.  We also ploughed in the autumn and left the furrows open to the frost to break down. We never worked the soil when it was wet.
You can easily use those tactics on your ground to get useable beds fairly quickly.  It is simply not worth investing a thousand pounds in adding new soil.  You would have to improve the drainage underneath it anyway or you would have effectively the same problem.  You have plenty of FYM so as long as it's stood for at least a year you can turn in masses of that to make your onion bed. However, I think the onions would prefer that you had done that last year, as they might not like too much fresh fertility. Onions are usually planted in soil that was heavily manured in the previous year.

Were it me, I would dig in a tonne of sharp grit to the clay under the bed and added local soil perhaps from the path around the bed. Then make my onion bed be mixing in the manure with the gritty clay  and cover it, perhaps with wetted cardboard and stra, for the earthworms to work over the winter, then plant spring growing onion sets, or plants you have grown from seed, in spring.  I would also get the work done for any other veg beds you want for the summer, now.
Clay soil is really not something you can fix quickly forever.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2022, 01:32:29 pm by Fleecewife »
"Let's not talk about what we can do, but do what we can"

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  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: growing over winter onions
« Reply #2 on: October 09, 2022, 07:47:52 am »
I would loosely fork the soil (as in push in a garden fork then wiggle), then put well rotted manure on top (the main principle of no-dig/no-till), but IMO planting onions to overwinter outside in the UK is a bit of hit and miss. Are you talking onions grown from seed or seed onions? I have never even tried proper onions from seed overwinter, but have grown spring onions (sown into modules before planting out as small plants, in clummps) in my Keder successfully overwinter before - ready to eat eary spring onwards, same as chard, spinach, spring cabbage and winter salads.

We are buying onions this year anyway, as even our main crop failed due to some weird compost issues last spring...


  • Joined Jul 2022
Re: growing over winter onions
« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2022, 12:01:32 pm »
thats kind of what i was thinking too. but not doing it before im not sure.
they are sets. i have 500g of sets to have a go with. my logic is if its works great if it doesnt i can start over in spring
thank you


  • Joined Dec 2009
  • St Boswells, Scottish Borders
Re: growing over winter onions
« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2022, 01:24:56 pm »
If you have already got them, trying does not hurt. If they fail the soil will be ready for something else in spring...


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