Getting to know my onions

This afternoon was perfect weather for winter gardening, calm, clear & not bitterly cold. So I got out in the garden & planted the seedlings I bought yesterday. Usually I leave seedlings around until they start to suffer, then feel stressed & panic plant.

The first hour was spent preparing the bed with about six wheelbarrows of wormfilled compost & mulching with peastraw. Following last summers tomato disaster, I've moved to a four bed system that I learnt all about at thevegetablepatch . (This site doesn't have links to each page but if you look up crop rotation in the how to index, you'll find what I'm talking about.) The first bed is well underway with brocoli, lettuce, broad beans, snow peas, spinach & coriander.

The second bed, I started today with onion seedlings. I grew some red onions from a bundle of slips last year & they were a big hit with G who loves onions. This year I tried to grow some onions from seed, they came up OK & then just died in the damp. I had never thought of growing onions from punnets until I saw Peter Cundall on  Gardening Australia showing primary school kids how to plant onions. It's much better value than buying them in a bundle. I got about 80 from each punnet. First I separated out each onion plant... Then laid them sideways in a trench.

Then covered them with soil. Apparently they will turn themselves upright within three days. The  two remaining vegetable beds are lying fallow until spring and were fertilised & planted with seeds for green manure.

I read in one of my old gardening books, The Australian Gardener by Leslie H Brunning 1942, that "Any variety of onion pulled in the young state makes a Spring Onion" and that main crop varities such as Brown Spanish may be sown direct as late as July /August and thinned. Might try this, as I never seem to have any success with spring onions & I quite like the idea of lots of onions. Before last year I had dismissed the idea of growing onions because they are so cheap to buy. But, as I discovered last year, home grown onions definitely superior to shop onions in flavour, almost to the same extent as tomatoes. There's also something really good about deciding you need an onion for your salad & then picking one fresh from the garden.

I also planted some flowers, iceland poppies, austral stock, cineraria (which I hope will self seed) & a new ornamental sage. Not worrying too much about weeding the garden, just planting so that in spring we have a glorious bounty of flowers & vegies.

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