We have run out of onions. Well, there are some smallish gladalans left - but only a few. The leeks are almost ready to start eating, but well, I liked having bunches of onions hanging from the roof in the shed for the last 6 months.
Late last winter I purchased hunter river brown, sweet red and red shine seedlings from a local farmer at the farmers markets. (Mr Duck Herder and I love red onions the best) This year I have decided to try and grow my own "sets" from seed. But to make them last the whole year, I think I am going to have to get cleverer about variety selection and try and grow two successive plantings.
Things I have learned about onions over the past week:
There are short, medium and long day length onions. The day length lets you know how many hours of daylight the onions need to trigger the big bum response. So, all things being equal, if you planted short, medium and long varieties in autumn/winter, the short ones would mature first, then the mediums then the long.
Short, medium and long day length mostly, but not necessarily corresponds to early, mid and late season. These relate more to planting time than day length (I think). ie autumn, early winter, late winter respectively.
The bestest keeping onion is the Pukekohe Long Keeper. In ideal conditions they can keep for up to 9 months. There is a commercially available Australian version of the Pukekohe Long Keeper called Vecon Regular Creamgold.
If I grow short, medium and long day length onions early in the season, we can start munching out on the shorts by perhaps November, while the others mature. Then, in late spring or early summer I could plant another short day length variety, ready to be transplanted into the garden by January or February to mature before the day length gets too short.
If the long day length varieties are super good keepers (like PLKs) I could store them under the house while we work our way through the shortest keepers through to the longest. The other idea floating around my head is to get an old fridge or freezer and put it in the shed set on around 5 or 6 degrees to keep all the other veggies in.
So far (before I worked out this fiendish plan) I have sown Gladalans (short), Red Brunswicks (long, good keeper), Ailsa Craigs (brown, huge, long day length, good keeper) and Red Wethersfields (long day length, eat first, poor keeper).
Today, I discovered Cornucopia seeds - and I have ordered more Ailsa Craigs and some Pukekohe Long Keepers. I am going to have way too many onion seedlings. Perhaps I can sell the extras at "sets" wrapped in newspaper and ready for folks to plant in spring. All up I have spent $15 on onion seeds. I will need to decide which "short" season variety to plant in December so add another $3. If the plan works, I reckon that's OK for a year supply.
Today I cleaned up where the tomatoes were, added some gypsum, chook poo and mulch. All ready for onions in early spring.