Drying out Garlic, Shallots and Onions

You may remember that about seven our eight months ago now I planted some red sun and golden gourmet shallots, Casablanca garlic and Sturon onions into the ground.

Soon after planting the red sun, gourmet garlic into the ground I had a terrible problem with birds and squirrels pulling out the bulbs.  As a result the bulbs were very difficult to establish, but once they had taken root they soon started to grow.

By the time I planted the onions, I came across a neat trick to deter the birds from picking out the bulbs, however I’m little bit disappointed with this years result, they’re not very big and they’ve failed to swell.  I suspect that I may have planted them at the wrong time of year and this has caused a stunt in growth. Lesson learned.

But now the time has come to pull them out of the ground. You can harvest your garlic bulbs, shallots and onions once the tops of the bulb have fallen over and started to brown.  If you can, pick your onions in the morning when the temperature is lower.

If you plan on storing your onions for long period of time, then drying them out is essential. It’s really easy to dry out onions, you just lay them out on a dry surface and place that has good ventilation, like a shed, or in a porch or windowsill.

It’s great going into the shed after the onions have dried out, the place is filled with that sweet onion aroma only drying onions can produce.

Onions can take a few weeks to dry out and the outer layer will become brown and crisp. After that you would want to store the bulbs in a wire cage, nylon bag or hessian sack to reduce the risk of condensation forming.

If where you plan to store your onions is too damp, then you’ll find that some of your bulbs will begin to rot.

Planting Onion Sets: Sturon

Spring is upon us and we’re still in the thick of sowing season – next up on the agenda is the onions. I’ve got a bag of 80 Sturon onion sets, allowing me to plant at least 8 rows of 10 in my little patch.

Sturon onions is a favourite among growers for its reliability. So much so, it’s achieved an RHS Award of Garden Merit because of its reliability. Sturon is the variety you’re most likely to find at your local garden centre.

They’re said to keep well when dried, and will probably go brilliantly in a bolognese.

Generally, when you’re planting onions, you want to avoid planting them in manured soil. Pick a spot that has lengthy sun exposure and good drainage. Plant bulbs about 2cm in the ground, around 10-15 apart, which rows 20-30cm apart.

I’ve had a real issue with birds picking out the bulbs because they think that the tips of the bulbs are good for making nests, or because they think tips of the bulbs could be food.  My shallots have really suffered because of this.  To combat the onslaught brought by the birds, I’ve got two lengths of string and made an X over the bed – I hoping this will act as a bit of a deterrent.

Onion fly is also meant to be a little bit of a problem if you’re not planting these in raised beds, so later on in the year, I’ll be looking to plant some mint in the space that I have left at the end of the bed.  Mint, along with other herbs is a good deterrent to pests because of the mixture of scents.