Growing onions for competition

Updated/Fact-Chacked on August 5, 2020 by John

In 2014, an onion weighing 18lb12.5oz destroyed a world heavyweight record set a decade earlier. The grower received a £500 first prize for weighing in the heaviest onion at the Harrogate Autumn Flower Show and a £1,000 bonus for setting a new world record.

Start with the right seed

The Kelsae onion was first introduced to the seed trade in the early 1950’s by the well-known Scottish firm Laing & Mather of Kelso. The onion has always proved to be a winner because of its ability to grow to an exceptional size – it reliably produces bulbs of 4 – 6lbs in weight when well grown. The strain has been progressively improved over the years by very stringent mother bulb selection and held the record until 2014

giant- onion

Tips and hints:

1.Dig deep, making a trench which you refill with layers of manure and really good topsoil. It should be well settled before planting out time, so begin this in January at the latest.

2.Start early, sowing seed in trays, rather sparingly, in a reasonable compost in a cool room or greenhouse where the temperature will be somewhere between 50F and 60F. Too much heat is apt to produce weak, lanky seedlings.

3.When the onion seedlings are about an inch tall and – still at the looped stage – pot them up, using long pots: biodegradable growing tubes which should be available at a good gardening centre. These are perhaps no more than two or three inches wide at the top but are more than twice that in depth, designed to help plants develop long and straight tap roots. Old gardeners use toilet roll inners – same thing really! When you put a seedling at the top and keep the container fairly dry, the roots will reach to the bottom of the tube in search of moisture.

4.The young onions will need careful attention to maintain growth right through until planting out in April – biodegradable pots mean you don’t disturb the root which is important to getting really big onions.

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