Growing early onion in the polytunnel
What could be better than getting a nice harvest of early onion from the polytunnel? I decided to go for a fast-growing variety and it seems to work!
I tried growing early onion in my large polytunnel a few years ago. It did not go well. Plenty of onion greens but no bulbs. I do like the greens too of course, but the whole point was getting early onion bulbs. I concluded that it must have been too hot which must have stressed the plant to go for leaves and flowers instead of a nice bulb.
I recently heard that two other growers here in Sweden, Sanna and Jonas Ringqvist from Bossgården, plant onions in their polytunnel in March. They have a small agricultural business and do a lot of experimenting in order to get both early and late vegetables that they can sell. Amongst many other things, they plant onion that they can start harvesting in May, already in March. When I did it last, I think I started too late. I should have gotten to it a bit sooner so that they didn't have to die of heat shock. I need to try it again!
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Fast-growing yellow onion
I decided to go for the variety Forum F1 which the garden center I bought it from describes like this:
“Forum is the perfect choice for the eager gardener. It's one of the earliest fast-growing varieties out there. You can plant it early without having it bolt. The root system is quite shallow and you need a lot of nutrients and water. Forum produces nice, mild-tasting globe-shaped bulbs.”
This description seems perfectly aligned with what I'm going for, early onion. Last year's harvest was sub-par to put it nicely, and I'm so eager to get really good homegrown onions.
If you are new to alliums, the part about bolting basically means that you can plant your onion set early in the year. Alliums (for example yellow onion, red onion, silver onion) will bolt very easily if they are exposed to very cold temperatures. This will stress the plant out. When the onion bolts, a hard core and stalk start to develop inside the bulb. This makes the onion taste bad.
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The tunnel I'm planning on growing my onion in faces north and it's a bit colder in there than in my large polytunnel. It gets some light in the morning and afternoon. This might not be the optimal situation for onion, but I will give it a try.
The onion set is small and I plant it just below soil level, in a row with nice and airy soil. I cover the onions with row cover right after planting the sets. It's been pretty cold here at night, even below freezing at times. The weather report tells me it's going to be warmer the coming 10 days though, so I'm hoping for the best!
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All I can do now is wait for my early onion! We will see what happens. It has been about two weeks since I planted the onion set, and the green leaves are finally starting to sprout. I can't wait!