First time onions and garlic

Discussion in 'NEW Gardeners !' started by FrancescaH, Mar 1, 2021.

  1. FrancescaH

    FrancescaH Gardener

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    Hello! I'm new here. I started gardening last summer so this is my first full year coming round, and my first time growing anything over winter!

    I decided to plant garlic and onions in my raised beds when I pulled up the last of my plants last year. I put onions (Red Cross and Snowball) in the ground around early September, and then followed up with garlic in my other raised beds around the end of September.

    Greens sprouted quickly and are growing. I had bird net over them as I lost my first planting of onions thanks to the birds. I kept it on so the greens were growing through the holes. The greens are a little worse for wear in places but mostly still growing and green.

    I've just taken the bird net off and couldn't resist having a little dig around the onions and garlic to investigate if there was anything there... no bulbs yet! Eek!

    I've read that the Snowball variety take around 240 days to reach maturity which should be around the beginning of May. I was hoping to repurpose the bed around late May so these numbers would be fine... but now I'm looking at the crop and wondering if I'll have anything at all in time.

    Did I not water enough over winter? I'm in the south east, so it can be dry here, but I thought that the rain we did get over winter would hold in the ground enough. I've put my soaker hose on for the first time today. Should I be doing this once a week as Spring comes?
     
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    • JR

      JR Chilled Gardener

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      I've not watered my autumn planted onions at all through this winter. I'd avoid doing that because onions can rot in cold wet ground. A raised bed is good for drainage so hopefully you'll be ok but i wouldn't put any more water on them until around May... (Unless we get a lovely bone dry April) ;)
       
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      • FrancescaH

        FrancescaH Gardener

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        OK no more water then! The earth certainly isn't waterlogged, drainage is good. The top of the compost is a little dry but just below the surface it's pretty moist.

        Any other ideas what I did wrong then? They're well spaced, greens grew up in good time. I didn't feed but used decent quality compost when I planted them out (topped up at the end of summer before I planted). The elephant garlic I planted seems to be the only thing that's got a bulb. The garlic and onions are just green sticks :(
         
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        • JR

          JR Chilled Gardener

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          My take on this.. (whilst not professing to be an expert) is that when onion sets are planted in Autumn they don't grow much. They grow some roots and a bit of top shoots and then they idle around waiting for nice warm spring days. Then as the days warm up they should get going properly.
          If successful, the crop should be ready to harvest around a month earlier than Spring planted sets.
           
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          • Scrungee

            Scrungee Well known for it

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            Garlic wont start bulbing up until summer. What you might have found under an elephant garlic is probably a 'round' that has yet to grow further and start dividing into cloves to form a bulb.

            May sounds rather optimistic for the snowball onions.

            Screenshot_20210301-130500.png
             
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            • NigelJ

              NigelJ Total Gardener

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              I'm not an expert on autumn sown onions, but the sets I plant (march) make very little except leaf until midsummer when the bulb develops. As the weather warms up they should grow away and may well benfit from a feed. As Scrungee says early May is optimistic and I would think towards the end of May.
              My garlic sown in November is about 6" high and will start to grow more leaf as the days lengthen and the soil warms.
              With both of these the more leaf you have the more feed for the bulb you have. Onions in particular benefit from growing steadily once spring arrives.
               
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              • FrancescaH

                FrancescaH Gardener

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                Hmm, that calendar is a lot longer than the one on Marshalls where I purchased them! Marshalls shows Snowballs with autumn planting reading for May/June and Red Cross ready for June/July. I planted them half and half in the same bed hoping I could pull up the Snowballs and do successive sowing of spinach and other leaves whilst the Red Cross were still ticking along into June.

                If it comes to it I'll probably just have to dig up and chuck. Lesson learnt. I'd rather grow leafy veg that is much nicer fresh from the garden than onions/garlic which at least are easily purchaseable of good quality (imo nothing beats homegrown fresh-picked cabbage and spinach!)
                 
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                • FrancescaH

                  FrancescaH Gardener

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                  Here's the situation. Looking a bit limp too :(
                   

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                  • Scrungee

                    Scrungee Well known for it

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                    I gave up trying to grow spinach in summer many years ago because the whole lot kept on bolting.
                     
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                    • JR

                      JR Chilled Gardener

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                      Cavelonero is easier than spinach for me, and a nice versatile dark green leaf.
                      We use it as it comes and together in curries etc.
                       
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