Category Archives: Onion

The allotment in June…

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I am rather behind this year due to having a number of failed seedlings and life just generally taking over, however, we have been down at the allotment quite a lot over the past few days and it is starting to look back up to speed.

The onions are progressing well, although as usual the red onions don’t seem to be doing quite as well as the white onions, still better than previous years.  My sweet corn seedlings failed dismally, so I must admit that I cheated and bought some excellent specimens from our local garden centre Golden Days.  They are now planted out and seem to be doing well.

Peas and beans have also been planted.  For my main crop of peas I am using a variety called “Telephone Peas” that I have bought from The Real Seed Catalogue.  I have used them previous years and found them to be very successful, producing very tall stems of plentiful tasty pods.  You do need to be careful when picking as the pods seem to swell before the peas are very large, so patience is the key when growing these.  I would definitely recommend this variety.

Similarly I have planted a purple climbing bean called “Cosse Violette“, once again from The Real Seed Catalogue.   I have also found these to be very prolific with an excellent taste.  They are really simple to freeze as well so great for long term storage.  You can also simply tell when they are cooked as they turn from purple to green when they are ready to eat!

We have also sited two compost bins at the end of two of our beds as our cold compost areas are getting full.  Our home compost bin has been very successful producing wonderful rich compost for potting up plants.  Generally I regularly water the compost bins and every so often add compost activator.

I am really pleased with our herb garden.  We have lost a few plants over the winter, but those that have remained are thriving and I have been left with a small space to plant a couple more herbs.  At the moment I am considering Feverfew and Sweet Basil.

Carpeting the paths has been really useful this year as we have had limited time at the allotment.  It has really helped to suppress the weeds in these areas which has meant our time at the allotment has been spent completing the priority tasks of weeding and planting beds.

Problems with my veg…

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I spoke in my earlier posts about loosing some of my onions to mould.  Here is a photo of the white mould on the bottom of an onion after I pulled it out.  Additionally, this year, on all the mouldy onions I also saw these little creatures!  I think they are baby centipedes, or possibly millipedes.  If you can not see them, try clicking on the photograph below to enlarge it.

If they are centipedes then they should be encouraged, they are carnivorous and eat a wide variety of pests, including slugs.  I am just not sure what so many of them are doing on the bottom of this onion!  Down Garden Services provides a list and pictures of common garden creatures which is worth looking at.  The creatures are grouped into 3 categories:  friends, enemies and those that have some “bad habits”.

It is also possible that they are millipedes, this would make more sense as they feed on decaying vegetation which is in line with being on the bottom of a rotting onion.  This makes them very useful for recycling organic matter on the allotment.  However, they also have some bad habits.  They can damage seedlings, as well as beans, peas and carrots.  They like to eat soft tissue plants such as cucumber plants and strawberries.  They also enlarge wounds created by slugs in harder veg, such as potatoes or bulbs, however, they are unable to cause damage to these plants on their own.

After considering all these points I think they must be millipedes.  I have found them living in slug holed potatoes in the past.  As they are just eating rotting veg I do not see them as a pest.  They have not caused any damage to my seedlings or other plants so I am not too worried about them at the moment.

Above is a picture of my first butternut squash which has gone mouldy/rotten.  I noticed it after being away for the weekend.

After some more online research it looks like it is due to “Blossom end rot”.  There appears to be number of reasons for this to happen, from a lack of calcium in the soil, through to a need for more regular watering.  Apparently if you catch it early enough you can nip it in the bud.  Try these online resources below to find out more information and possible solutions:

Weekend Gardener: Stop Squash Blossom Rot

iVillage Garden Web: Blossom End Rot

Gardening Know How: Squash Bottom End Rot

Onions, onions and more onions…

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All my onions are now harvested.  I left the last ones out in the sun to begin to dry as today was such a lovely day.

I know my onions are ready when the stalks bend over, see picture below, however this year, as I discussed in my earlier post, my over wintering onions have just kept growing and growing.  Normally I would have harvested them in June/early July and not August.

I brought some home the other day and placed them with the others in the greenhouse.

The far onions are the ones I placed there about a week ago now.  As you can see below they are very nearly dried out and will soon be ready for binding together with string so they can be stored more easily.  They will be ready when the stems are all yellow.  You do need to be careful drying them in the greenhouse as the temperature can get quite high on sunny days.  If possible on such days it is best to take the onions out and place them directly in the sunshine.

Now the onion beds are empty, before I plant anything else in them, I need to test the soil pH level as this can affect how well things grow.  Not having had this allotment for more than a year I do not know what fertilising regime has been in place so it is important to test the soil and find out the pH level in a number of places as it will vary throughout the plot.  If it is too acidic or alkaline the plants will not grow as well and may be more susceptible to disease.  The best overall pH for growing vegetables is 6-7.   I have found a few websites, below, that have tables that show the preferred pH for a number of vegetables.

Grow Anything

Gardener’s Network

The Garden Helper

Onion harvest!!!

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Eeek!!! I left my onions far too long in the ground and they have grown HUGE!!!  I must admit I did it as an experiment to see how large they would grow, however, it has meant I have lost a few due to rot.  I have found the over-wintering varieties can rot from the base of the onion if they are left in the ground too long and I would normally harvest towards the end of June / early July depending on their size and whether the stalks have started to fall over.

This year the stalks have only recently started falling over, hence me leaving them in longer, but I think next year an early July harvest will be in order.

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I have taken around 50% to deal with this week.  I find if I take too many in one go it becomes a mammoth task to deal with them all.  A little and often is a good motto as far as work on an allotment is concerned.  Onions need drying out before my husband binds them into strings and hangs them for storage.  I have placed mine in an old commercial bread basket – no idea where I got them from – raised on pots in the greenhouse.

Yum yum yum…

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Made a delicious lasagne with allotment produce today.  So satisfying to use and eat what I have grown.

Ok, so I did slightly burn the top due to my white sauce being too thin, but apart from that it was delicious.  Home grown elements included courgette and swede, which I roasted in the oven first to given them a sweeter flavour, and one of my all time favourites and staples, home-grown onion!!!  Normally I would also use home-grown garlic as well, but for some reason this year it just did not grow well, in fact, most of the cloves disappeared over winter and the ones that survived were really small.  Not sure why, but will try again next year!  Finally I also included some green and purple beans which were really flavoursome.