Growing onions from seed

Why Onions are so important?

Onions are very good for us (poisonous to dogs though!). Since ancient times, they have been used for medicinal application. They are antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-asthmatic, can lower blood pressure/cholesterol and are rich in vitamin C and A. They have become a staple part of most savoury dishes around the world and are enjoyed by billions. I remember Jamie Oliver saying once that the humble onion should be seen as a vegetable in its own right; “Don’t just chop it up every time, try roasting it whole”. I couldn’t agree more.

Every late Winter/Early spring, we’ll find garden centre shelves packed with bags onion sets ready to be planted on our allotments and in gardens. I have purchased more than my fair share of varieties such as Alpha, Rumba and Red Baron in set form and have enjoyed excellent results year after year. However, last year I didn’t purchase a single set, but growing purely from seed.

Growing Onions from seed

If you have never tried growing onions from seed, then you will be surprised to hear that it is rather easy and will produce a lovely crop in nearly the same time it takes for onion sets to mature. The seedlings are generally very tough and will cope with a certain level of rough handling. I can be a bit of a neck-ache though, planting so many tiny onion seedlings. A single pack of onion seeds can contain as many as 500 potential onions (quantity varies from variety to variety) and works out to cost a significant 40 times cheaper than growing from sets. In saying this, growing from sets should yield a crop at a fraction of the cost of buying onions from your local supermarket.

James Middleton

An obsessive gardener since 1982. Day-time job - web designer and developer and University lecturer.