by Max Akroyd

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The onion beds

 The area designated for alliums is taking shape. The shallots are in and over half the garlic is planted: you can just make out their rows in front of, and behind, Lucy. The areas still under plastic mulch will be used for planting the slightly more sexy shallots available in spring. In the foreground was this afternoon’s fleeting effort, fourteen square metres turned over in readiness for planting the over-wintering onions. I had to order these from the UK as they don’t seem to go in for them here. Some of the French catalogues sell sets of what most UK gardeners would consider to be spring-planting varieties for planting now. I tried these last year and concluded from their abject failure to swell that they were ok if you lived in Marseilles but not so great for Brittany… 

So, reluctantly given a self-imposed commitment to ‘keep it local’, I ordered my onion sets (Radar) from the HDRA catalogue. I have mixed feelings about onion sets – plant little onion, get bigger onion –  but I’d rather have a reliable, early crop than be puritanical (and hungry). I’m definitely going to seek the holy grail of vegetable gardeners this spring and grow my maincrop onions from seed. One thousand onions for €2 has got to be worth a punt. Back in the real world, it’s set planting time…

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Overwintering onion sets