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Growing Onions and Garlic

by Malachy - Horticulturist CountryLife Dungarvan | Apr 06, 2016

Red onions are always popular
As we step into March all attention will shift towards the vegetable patch and getting things planted so that we can enjoy the produce in months to come. With the soil drying out and starting to warm up it is the perfect time to getting ready for the growing season ahead.

While there are still months and months to sow most vegetables crops there are a few that you should get in the ground as soon as you can to have fully matured crop by autumn. Onions and garlic are two of these crops that you should look at planting as quickly as you can. 

Now is a great time to plant onion setsMany gardeners plant their garlic in autumn and let it over winter in the soil. I planted mine last October and at this stage it is about 3 inches tall already. If you have not already planted garlic it is best to get it in the soil as quick as you can before the soil fully heats up. Garlic benefits from a period of cold weather to help the cloves split and form bulbs later on. 

At the moment in CountryLife we have garlic sets and also elephant garlic in stock. In recent years many gardeners are moving towards elephant garlic because it produces much larger bulbs. Many people I have talked to find it great for roasting along with vegetables and other prefer it for the larger flower heads it forms. The flowers are much larger than normal garlic ones and almost double as an ornamental flower too. 

In my own garden I like to plant garlic in trenches as it helps to improve drainage. Garlic likes a good free draining so if your soil at home is heavy it would be a good idea to work some sand or grit through it to help improve the drainage. 

In terms of onions planting sets is the only way to grow them in my eyes. Growing onions from seed requires a lot of time and patience that many gardeners simply don’t have the time for. With sets you speed up the process and are almost always guaranteed a good quality crop in the end. 

Elephant garlic produces large bulbs - Photo credit Kim StarrAt the moment in store we have a great selection of different onions sets that gardeners can choose from. Red Barron, Sturon and Stuttgarter always prove very popular each year. Also in store we have a mixed packet that contains a mixture of ordinary, white and red onions. This mixed packet would be a great solution for a gardener working with limited space and wants to grow a few different types of onions but not sacrifice the space. Also it is good for anyone who could not normally use an entire net of onion sets by themselves. 

When it comes to onions there are two types that we have sold in the garden centre. Last autumn we sold autumn or Japanese onions which are planted in autumn and grow over winter. With this type you get mature onions much earlier in the season. Now at the moment we are selling proper onions which you plant now and start to harvest in autumn. I find it a good idea to plant both types as it helps to prolong the harvest span during the year.  

For both onions and garlic harvesting and drying are two important steps to ensure your crops will last throughout the winter for you. Closer to the time in Autumn we will take a closer look at how to harvest and store your allium crops correctly. 

Written by Malachy

Here to help! - remember if you have any questions feel free to pop into one of our garden centres or you can contact us on our Facebook and Twitter pages and email us at:

Malachy's Bio 
I have been gardening since I was 5 years old when my mother gave me a part of our garden as my own. I have studied horticulture in the National Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin and was a winner in the young horticulturist of the year competition. I have worked in Several plant nurseries and garden centers such as Mount Congreve in Co. Waterford. My special interests are plant propagation and Cacti!

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