It can be a bit confusing when talking about spring onions (or are they shallots or are they scallions) as there are lots of small onions with lots of different names, but when I am talking about spring onions I am referring to the onion which produces a slender white stem and hollow, cylindrical, dark green leaves, that when grown well, have a lovely mild flavour that can be eaten raw or cooked.
I love the fresh mild taste of spring onion in many dishes. I use them in stir fries and other Asian dishes, raw in leafy garden salads; they are a must in a good potato salad and an essential ingredient in quiche.
In most climates they can be grown all year but are best in spring and autumn, in the summer if they become water stressed they can become a little hot in flavour and in winter their growth slows.
As this is an ideal time to be growing spring onions, why not pop some seed in today.
Growing spring onions
As with most vegetables they like full sun and a soil that is well drained and prepared with well-rotted compost and animal manures. But in my experience they are pretty tough and will grow just about anywhere.
They are quick growing, only taking about 8 weeks, if fed well, before you can start to harvest them.
They take up very little room and can be popped in to spare spaces all year or grown in a pot. A pot just outside the kitchen door is very convenient so you can pop out and grab a few to include in your favour dish as they make a great garnish and are often added towards the end of a dishes cooking time.
They can be grow very easily form seed and this is by far the cheapest way to produce them, but they transplant quite readily, so if you are wanting to get some in straight away, buy a punnet of seedlings.
When growing them from seed I create a small furrow in my soil about 6cm deep and 5cm wide and fill this with seed raising mix, firm it down, sprinkle seed evenly over the mix, cover with no more than a 1cm of more mix, firm down again and gently water in well. Mulch up to the edges of the furrow and water again. Keep moist until they germinate.
Spring onion do not like competition from weeds and have extremely fine foliage when they germinate which makes it difficult to weed around them. By using a seed raising mix and mulch weeds should not germinate before the seedlings are growing strongly and much easier to weed around.
To maintain a continual supply I like to put in just a pinch of seed (about 20) every 4 weeks
When growing spring onions, you want to produce lots of leaf growth and they need to grow quickly so they retain their mild flavour, so once they have germinated, a start to fertilise them with a very weak solution of high nitrogen ratio organic fertiliser, such as power feed or a fertiliser tea made from chicken manure and /or legume foliage, twice a week. Once they are 6 to 8 cm high use half strength once a week.
Keep moist by thoroughly watering once a week once established and mulching.
When they reach 10 to 12 cm high, thin them out to about 5am apart, this gives the remaining plants plenty of room to grow and allows plenty of air flow around the plants to prevent downy mildew occurring. After the initial thinning and the plants have reached about pencil thickness I start to harvest them as I need them by removing every second plant which gives more space for the remaining plants to grow.
Once you have found how easy this fabulous plant is to grow, I am sure it will become a staple in your garden.
Are you growing spring onions right now? I would love to see some pictures, which you can pop up on my Facebook page. If you’re looking for fantastic garden inspiration, try out my Pinterest boards – I keep them full of fantastic looking veggies, fruits and garden design.
Happy Gardening, Kathy