Post by roofgardener on Sept 15, 2015 15:57:55 GMT
Soo.. I've had my fun with the polytunnel, and the standings, and all the toys.
I've grown this, that and the other. Soon it will be time to throw away all the dead plants, wash the plantpots and put them away, tidy up and.... start growing the same old stuff all over again.
Hmm.. perhaps not ? I need a challenge... a target.. something to stretch me, make me learn more. OK.. so I'm going to grow enough strawberries to keep the family happy during Wimbledon 2016 .. and produce Brussel Sprouts for Christmas. ...and grow lots of polinator-attracting flowers, so that my Runner Bean plants actually produce some BEANS in 2016. ...and grow runner beans. ...and 'erbs... and some Chard.
But I need something bigger.
You know, I enjoyed growing onions this year. They are easy to look after, don't make a mess, and taste nice.
So this is the challenge. To produce enough Onions to keep my parents, my Sister, and perhaps Miss M in onions for an entire YEAR.. starting in around May 2016. And to produce some display onions, and enter the 2016 Gedling 'Orticultural Show.
I'm going to really LEARN about onions. The correct way of germinating (including from seed, as well as some sets). I want to learn about their pests and diseases, and how to deal with them. How to store them. What species to grow - and when - such that I can keep the supply flowing for a whole year. (some store for ages, others don't) I'm going to read books, browse the net, and ask lots of irratating onion-related questions on this form. (heck.. I may throw some shallots in as well... and some garlic).
We have the technology
The knowledge is available...
Nothing will stop me.
I intend to become an Allium Expert. A Shallot Seneschal A Garlic Guru I intend to become....
Good luck with your plan roofgardener. A year's worth of onions/alliums sounds like it could take over your whole roof and more!
For varieties I have found the best to be 'Toughball' - sown now to overwinter, harvest May/June, keeps for a couple of months; 'Vision' (part of Unwins Growsure range) which can be sown late January to late February, harvest from July onwards, stores very well for me - until late May this year. Both of these are from seed and can be used for showing also. For sets I have returned to the old variety 'Centurion' which does well in my area.
For large exhibition onions the only real contenders are 'The Kelsae' and 'Mammoth Improved' with Kelsae being the one most commonly seen at shows. I will be trying some next season in 50-litre containers (about 20 only) and although available as seed I think buying in young plants will prove better value.
Do you know what onion classes there are at your show? I ask because some have classes for under 250g (from seed), over 250g (from seed), onions from sets, onions as grown and many other variations, which can be downright confusing on times!
Post by roofgardener on Sept 17, 2015 11:52:08 GMT
OK... it's time to get serious.
First decision: what onion seeds to get ? I need to hurry as - depending on the type - I'm already a month late.
This is not a simple decision. I need to balance out the general reliability of the breeds; their resistance to the various diseases and pests, their harvest period, and their storage longevity.
Then there is the advice to factor in from MarkB, and the information from my various books, and some snippets from t'internet.
So this is how I resolved all these different factors.
I browsed down the Thompson and Morgan catalog, and chose the onions with the prettiest pictures !
Just call me "Mr Scientific".
OK... sooooo... what I've ordered from T+M is; Display Onions "Bunton's Showstoppers" "Allisa Craig"
General Onions 'Marco' F1 Hybrid James "Long-keeping" "Bedfordshire Champion"
Shallots Figaro Zebrune
From Unwins, following MarkB's recommendation, I ordered... General Onions Vision (late harvest) Hi Keeper (ditto) "Bedfordshire Champion"... I clicked by accident and couldn't be bothered to remove it from the basket. And some Gro-Sure seed compost, just to see what its like.
Of course, I've also got my OWN seeds, recovered from this years onions.
NOW all Iv'e got to do is plant the durned things.
Post by roofgardener on Sept 17, 2015 13:41:52 GMT
Arial Allium Arithmetic
Lets assume that the Parents will need three onions per week. My Sister might want two. I'll want two. Lets add one for the pot. Thats 8 onions per week.
52 weeks in the year.... (gets calculator out) tappitytappityTAP.
No... wait... that can't be right. tappitytappityTAPPITYtap.
416 onions (including shallots, but excluding Garlic).
Hmmm..... I know from experience that I can grow 4 onions to a reasonable size in my standard troughs. I reckon I could push that to 10 onions in the Large Boxes. And perhaps a FEW in full-size 12" plantpots (that seems to produce really BIG onions).
Soooo.. thats 41 large boxes. Or 104 troughs. Or four hundred and sixteen 12" plantpots.
Hmmm.... I can put 24 troughs in the Annexe area.. perhaps another 8 on the Polytunnel exterior standing... another 8 on the South-Facing wall standings.. so thats 40 troughs. Then... 4 big boxes on the floor next to the S-F standings, and another four on the floor in front of the Polytunnel standing. Perhaps I could put another four in front of the next-door flat's bedroom window... so thats 12.
Which brings us up to tappitytappitytappity 180,000. (bangs calculator on desk... BANG BANG THUD) tappitytappitytappity.. hmm... 280.
Soooo... I'm around 140 onions short of a full set ! Oh... and I only possess four boxes, and about 12 troughs.
This is going to take some thinking about !!!!
Perhaps I'll have to limit everyone to two onions per week, for a total of six onions per week, instead of 8 ? That would make 320 onions. And.. of course.. the shallots can be planted closer together.
OK... lets not panic. I don't need to cross THAT bridge until the onions are big enough to be planted out. However, it DOES mean that I need about 350 seed pots.
Don't panic just yet, roofy. Maybe time to think outside the box as they say. So, firstly, the quantity used: eight onions of an average/normal size would be around 8oz each, but if you include the Ailsa Craig/Bunston's Showstopper for eating too at an average weight of 2 lb each then two of these would do for a week.
Also the varieties you mention are all spring sown (as far as I know) not 'overwinter' types, which would have eased the pressure on the amount of pots needed at seedling stage. However, if sown in a standard seed tray at about 1inch apart each way you could fit 50 seedlings in a tray where they can grow for quite some time if given a weak feed after about six weeks of growing. You could also try sowing some of the Bedfordshire Champion now to overwinter (as you have two packets), which should work okay just that the resulting crop will not store for as long after harvest.
I'm sure it will all work out okay and good luck.
p.s. you're not really a month late, I sow my Toughball early so I can get them ripened for the early shows in July.
Post by roofgardener on Sept 17, 2015 15:49:48 GMT
Well, my OWN seeds are the Japanese Winter variety, which seem to be ready for harvest in June or July. So I guess that's when "the clock starts" as far as my 'Mission' is concerned.
The other onions mature later, but also have better longevity in storage. So I guess my plan is to open the batting with the Japanese Yellow Globe. I'll need enough of them to last for.. what.. perhaps two months, giving time for the other onions to mature.
I'd prefer NOT to use the 'show' onions for eating. My thinking was to plant around 30 of them, in the hope that 10-12 germinate, which I will then 'bring on' in the Polytunnel in the hope that at least three of them end up as competition grade. Hmmm.... yeees... so I guess the 'failures' COULD be used as part of the general Onion Train ?.