Life in the Countryside

Growing alliums

Last year for the first time we planted some onions and garlic for the first time. We were slightly late last year planting them and only ended up planting them in January/February time. We had chosen varieties that were winter planting so we could have the beds freed up to plant something else in them late summer. They still did well enough, but actually if they had gone in earlier we may have ended up with a larger crop. They were, however, really flavoursome and required very little maintenance so we found them worth growing.

So this year I was very organised and went to the local garden centre and made sure I got our garlic and onions sets in December and planted them nice and early. To plant garlic you need to first separate the bulbs into cloves. Ensure that the soil is weed free and then push them gently into the soil ensuring that the pointy bit is upwards and is just below the soil level. Each bulb should be spaced about 10-15cm apart and they need to be just covered over with soil. For onions the planting process is very similar but they need slightly more space between them (15-20cm). I tend to plant my crops in rows, but if you were planting in a tub they could go in a circle. Our crops have survived the snow we had a couple of weeks ago and are now looking remarkably healthy. Hopefully they will continue to thrive and we will end up with a onions and garlic slightly larger than last years variety.

This is how our allium bed is looking so far.

Alliums take very little looking after once they’re in. The main thing is to make sure that the bulb stays below the soil level (you can see from the photo above that I have a couple that need pushing back under a bit). It will be many months before they can be harvested, but it’s worth keeping an eye on them to make sure they don’t start flowering (it looks like a little bud at the top of the green stalks). If that happens then just pinch the bud off. Once they start looking ready to harvest the stalks will turn yellow and start falling over. This won’t be for a good few months yet so I’ll update on how to harvest closer to the time.

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