IT was the late 1950s, if I remember correctly when the first onion – ‘Stuttgarter Giant’ – arrived assets from Holland. Prior to that, we would have all grown onions from seed. ‘Ailsa Craig’ would be sown in the soil in September to overwinter and produce large bulbs the following autumn. Exhibitors would sow their exhibition cultivars indoors between Christmas and New Year, with the main crops sown in spring using such kinds as ‘Bedfordshire Champion.
I have seen several rows of ‘Bedfordshire Champion’ on allotments this year, and at £1.85 for a packet of 350 seeds it works out cheaper than 80 or so onion sets for £3 to £4. The seed can be tricky to get good germination, however – for this, we need either a warm spring and soils or cloche cover.
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