The allium family of vegetables are easy to grow and often available year around. They can grow fairly close together, so they don’t take up too much space in the garden. So, do you know how to grow allium vegetables?
Our family has been planting onions and garlic for as long as I remember. We should actually plant more, because most of the time we run out before they grow to maturity. We LOVE adding both green garlic and onions to our salads, so we pick them early. They are DELICIOUS!
What Are The Allium Vegetables?
Wonder what it’s in the allium family? As I mentioned before alliums include onios, garlic and leeks. Also chives and shallots are part of this family.
All of the allium vegetables are must haves for amazing tasting cooking 😉
Allium flowers, while not used for food will surely add some beauty in your flower gardens.
How To Grow Allium Vegetables
Although the alliums are all a connected as a family, they each have a slightly different cultivation approach. Some use seeds, others use cloves and some use immature bulbs called sets. If you like foraging, wild garlic is great.
Onions can be grown form either onion seeds or sets. Each has their own pitfalls and advantages.
Garlic is pretty much trouble free, but onions are susceptible to a few pests and often pick up rotting diseases, particularly when they are in storage.
How to grow allium from seed
Growing onions (and other alliums) from seed is not difficult. Sow them directly in the bed or start them indoors using trays during March.
Sowing indoors gives the onion a longer season and should result in larger bulbs.
If you choose to sow your allium seeds in trays, once they have germinated inside keep them cool by moving them to an unheated greenhouse or cold frame, until the weather starts to warm outside, usually planting out in mid May.
Sowing directly is done at the beginning of April, preparing the soil as you would for all alliums. Take time to rake the soil to a fine tilth, as the tiny seedling will do better in finely ground up soil.
You might want to try sowing into a stale seed bed to give young seedling a better chance when competing with localized weeds. To create a stale bed, prepare the soil a few weeks before you are ready to sow, and leave it alone for a couple of weeks. Any native seeds will germinate, but before they become established hoe the bed to kill the weeds and sow the allium seeds. This should give the onions a head start on deeper seeds that are in the bed.
Sow the onion seeds thinly in drills about 4″ apart.
Other alliums you can grow from seed are chives, spring onions, leeks and shallots.
Growing onions (and garlic) using sets
Sets are more often or not the way most people grow onions, they are immature bulbs that you plant into the ground in a small hole. They are easy to handle, and as they are small bulbs, they tend to have a head start on seed grown varieties.
This is also how I like to plant our onions: much easier and faster than seeds. Of course it’s a bit more expensive to buy onions sets than buying allium seeds, and as you are relying on companies to grow to set size. Also, onion set varieties are far more limited than seeds.
When you buy your chosen sets you plant them out on a grid so that they are in their growing position from the start. This eliminates the need to thin out seedlings. And as the onion fly is drawn to the smell of the onions as they are handled, she is more likely to miss onion sets.
Preparing The Soil For Alliums
When preparing the soil to plant these bulb vegetables remember that this group does not need a lot of soil nutrients. Just dig over and add a little garden compost or leaf mold just to assist with draining, as all of these vegetables like a free draining soil.
You could also dust the ground a little blood and bone fertilizer to give the soil a bit of a lift, but don’t bother feeding the area for growing garlic.
As a trial we mulched onions and garlic with some old manure. We found out that while it did not seem to harm the onions, they did not store very well. Also, the garlic cloves started to split and tried to regrow.
So never assume that the extra food will help to grow better veggies, as sometimes it just doesn’t work.
If your soil gets water logged over the winter, when you sow your garlic, drop a bit of grit or horticultural sand in the bottom of the planting hole to help water drain away.
How To Grow Alliums
Onion Sets ,MIX, Red,Yellow,White (50-70 bulbs) Garden Vegetable Onions can be sown in two ways, either by seed or by using immature bulbs called sets. We tend to use sets as it is a little easier.
If using the set method, simply dib a shallow hole for the set to sit in, put the blunt or root side down into the soil, and thinly cover. You will need to follow the space recommendations of the onion you are growing as they will need to have room to swell. Then simply keep weed free and watered when dry.
You can also grow overwintering onions that will mature much faster than the summer crop.
Shallots are a type of onion that are grown in much the same way, although instead of one bulb swelling, similarly to garlic they split and swell a number of bulbs.
Garlic is another one of the allium vegetables that you do not use seeds; instead you buy the garlic variety you want to grow in a bulb form, then split off each clove and plant in much the same way as you plant onion sets.
Organic Softneck Garlic Early Italian Purple – Perfect for Braiding & Mild Climates – 1/2 lb. Garlic Bulbs for Planting! There are a number of garlic varieties which fall into either a soft neck or hard neck types, all with different flavors and storage abilities.
You can also grow elephant garlic which looks like a giant garlic bulb, tastes garlicky and grows like garlic, but is actually a type of leek.
When you buy your garlic seed bulbs you will find that they are much more expensive than the garlic at the supermarket. This is because seed bulbs are selected bulb varieties that have been bred to thrive in our climate, and have been developed to provide a far more superior flavor.
Don’t be tempted to plant cloves from supermarket bulbs, unless you’re planning to harvest them green for salads. We do this and enjoy it very much!
Leeks are one of the allium vegetables that are grown from seed. Simply scatter seeds onto a large pot of general purpose compost in March or April, and once they are about the thickness of a pencil, separate the seedlings and plant out in 6″ dibbed hole (this is my favorite dibber).
Other than weeding and watering when necessary there is very little more to do. You can start to harvest leeks as you need starting in September.
Leeks can stay in the ground all winter making them a valuable winter crop.
Growing spring onions
Scallions or spring onions are also grown from seeds. Sow them directly in the ground about four weeks before the final frost date.
Chives can be sown from early spring onward, either in pots or straight into the herb bed. We would tend to keep the chives with the herbs to make collecting herbs easier.
The herb bed is probably a good place to grow Welsh onions too. These are onions that cluster together: just plant a few bulbs and they will send up more and more bulb clusters.
They’re a good flavor onion if a little awkward to separate and peel.
Allium Pests And Diseases
Onion seeds are a little more susceptible to allium family disease and pest, although they do tend to store better.
The onion fly is a likely problem. Thinning and planting of onion seedlings releases onion scent, which will attract the onion fly. Try thinning out or planting later in the day. Or, cover alliums with horticultural fleece until the plants have recovered.