A cook’s best friend…the onion

Speak to any cook or chef and you’ll find that most of them say that one of the most useful vegetables in the kitchen is the onion and our gardening gourmet, John, agrees.

Not only are they super simple to cook with but they are one of the easiest ingredients to grow too.

Anyone can have a go at growing onions themselves from seeds or sets says John. Here’s how:

• Onion seeds should be sown in trays under glass during the middle of winter. By mid-spring they should be ready to harden off and plant out in rows.

• If you want a fast and efficient way to grow a crop of onions, you should opt for onion sets. These are already specially prepared, ready to plant baby onions that will mature by mid to late summer.

• Plant your onion sets in an open position in a light soil that has been manured during the previous autumn. Leave around 10cm between each one and rows should be around 30cm apart.

• Be sure to keep onion sets weed free. They need very little water, unless it is a particularly dry summer.

• Your onions will be ready for harvesting in the mid to late summer, when the leaves start to turn yellow.

• Once the foliage starts to turn yellow you can lift the onions very slightly out of the ground, so the base of the bulbs are exposed to some sunlight.

• As soon as the foliage has died completely, you can further dry your onions inside a greenhouse or shed before storing them for winter use.