Today and tomorrow are the shortest days of the year. I find it really difficult to appreciate short days, so I’m very glad I don’t live further south. This far north the short days are not all that short – sunrise is 6.40 am and sunset just before 5 pm – a daylength of over 10 hours. At the other end of the year though, the days are not all that long. At the summer solstice, the sun will rise around 5.45 am and set around 7.45 pm – a daylength of 14 hours.
Long day onions need 14 hours of daylight to bulb up, and we don’t get it for long enough this far north. Onions are strongly day-length sensitive, so you need to choose your onion variety not by your climate but by your latitude. This far north I have to choose short to medium daylength varieties, or they just go to seed without developing a bulb at all and I have a fairly short planting season. Most of the year I’m limited to spring onions.
So this is the last onion planting opportunity of the year for me and there’s limited varieties that are both short enough daylength and able to be planted this late. I’m planting Gladalan Brown this time. I’d love to be able to get hold of some Wallon Brown seed since they are better for storage.
I’m planting the seed in seed raising mix – half creek sand, half mature compost – in my leaf tubes in the shadehouse. I shall plant them out in the garden in about a month’s time, by digging a little hole and dropping in the whole tube, creating a little clump of half a dozen or so onions. By spreading them around the garden like this I reduce the risk from pests and diseases. I keep them away from the peas though, since they are unfriendly to the bacteria that legumes like peas depend upon.
I have a fair number of onions of various kinds in the garden now, but we eat so many of them that there can never be enough!