This is an important crop which can be in use all the year round if carefully stored, although the main crop is for use in summer and autumn. Onion3 want a deeply cultivated soil. Whore the surface fertile soil is deep enough, it should be trenched two or three spits deep, or if the surface soil is only one spit deep it should be double dug, as already described.
Farmyard manure in large quantities should be added to the soil allowing 4-5 cwt. Per rod. A dressing of nitrate of soda during the growing season will also be of great assistance. This should be given in proportionate quantities of 1 lb. Per rod.
For large bulb3 for winter and spring use, seed should be sown in boxes in January, and placed on the hotbed or in the greenhouse. When the seedlings appear they should be gradually hardened-off, and planted out in April or May. This should only be done when the soil is quite dry. When transplanting, the seedlings should be carefully lifted from the boxes and planted with a trowel, setting the plants 6 inches apart in rows 1 foot apart. The bulb3 should be well covered with the soil, but when they are established this can be drawn lightly away.
At the end of August the necks of the plants may be twisted and doubled over. This will help them to ripen more quickly.
For the summer and autumn crop, seed should be sown in March or April in drills 1 inch deep and 1 foot apart. These should be sown in a similar manner to lettuce, that is, in clumps of four or five seeds at intervals of 3 inches in the drills.
At thinning time the onion fly will make its appearance and great care should be taken to avoid this pest. Dull or showery weather is the best time for this operation. Thin out the plants leaving the strongest growing in the drills, 3 inches apart. These will be too close together but when they are large enough for salads every alternate onion may be pulled, leaving 6 inches between each plant left.
Before storing the onions they should be thoroughly ripened and dried. They can be left to ripen naturally, or the necks may be twisted and laid over about the end of August. They should be left in the ground for a week and then lifted, dried and stored.
Seed may also be sown in the autumn. This should be sown thinly in drills. A well-cultivated soil is also desirable for this, but half the amount of manure will be sufficient.
The plants should not be thinned until the following spring. During the growing season liquid manure may be applied. This will ensure large bulbs for use in summer and autumn.
Onion bulbs which hav6 been grown the previous year and dried off may be planted in the same way as advised for spring sown onions. These onion sets will be ready for use during the summer, when they may be pulled as required, or stored in the usual way for winter use.
Some of the best onions suitable for cultivation in the amateurs garden are: SPRING SOWING:
Ailsa Craig; Bedfordshire Champion, Cranstons Excelsior; Oiant Zittau.
Nuneham Park; Rousham Park Hero. AUTUMN SOWING: Oiant Globe Rocca; Giant Lemon Rocca.