Author Topic: Onion sets in root trainers?  (Read 1820 times)

gray1720

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Onion sets in root trainers?
« on: February 28, 2021, 22:16:54 »
Just wondering whether I got the idea here or not?

In the autumn I decided to plant my onion sets in root trainers rather than out on the plot (good job I didn't, given that it's flooded since!), and kept them in a cold greenhouse up until about two weeks ago when they went into the cold frame to finish hardening off. I planted them out today and the job was a doddle - they had huge roots on them, and the soil staying in shape so I could just make a hole by wiggling the trowel and drop them in. So far so good - assuming I'm not years  behind the times and everyone else has been doing it for years, I will try to keep you updated.
My garden is smaller than your Rome, but my pilum is harder than your sternum!

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Onion sets in root trainers?
« on: February 28, 2021, 22:16:54 »

IanDH

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Re: Onion sets in root trainers?
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2021, 13:51:53 »
I have not gone as far as root trainers, but do start them in cell trays outside of the back door. They have been frosted, covered in snow and anything else the weather has thrown at them.  Only lost a couple, most have rooted well and are sprouting ready to be planted out any time soon.

Don't do it every year but glad that I did so again this year as our site also flooded.  Not quite onto my plot, but covered next door and was lapping at the edge.  Have previously planted autumn sets in one of the raised beds and they have been OK, but they are going in one of the lower parts this year and even if not completely under water the water table would have been high enough to rot them.

Tee Gee

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Re: Onion sets in root trainers?
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2021, 14:12:37 »

IanDH

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Re: Onion sets in root trainers?
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2021, 15:08:15 »
Tee Gee that looks just like mine do, with the exception that I do not put them in trays as they are outside and I don't want them to drown in heavy rain.

saddad

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Re: Onion sets in root trainers?
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2021, 08:20:27 »
I do them like Tee Gee, and put them outside... in trays, regular job of stopping them drowning if it rains but better than them rooting into the frame...

gray1720

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Re: Onion sets in root trainers?
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2021, 08:55:41 »
I think one of Tee Gee's photos like that gave me the idea, once I moved to a house and had room, instead of a flat with a cold frame on the driveway! I used to lose so many over the winter (our plots are prone to flooding, so even the higher plots are wet, heavyish soil, exposed and always windy) so as soon as I had an alternative I went for it.

If they yield well, I'll definitely use root trainers more - the root systems were amazing, I'm sure that they'll grow better for being deeper-rooted. It's just a lot of rather fragile plastic to clean every year...
My garden is smaller than your Rome, but my pilum is harder than your sternum!

Duke Ellington

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Re: Onion sets in root trainers?
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2021, 16:00:51 »
Tee G taught me well😁😁about eight years ago and I always start mine off in cell trays..... thanks Tee G

dont be fooled by the name I am a Lady!! :-*

cudsey

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Re: Onion sets in root trainers?
« Reply #7 on: April 03, 2021, 18:08:18 »
I put my winter onions straight into the ground but I do start my summer ones in modules it seems somehow easier for planting out in the ground   
Barnsley S Yorks

gray1720

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Re: Onion sets in root trainers?
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2021, 18:59:46 »
Anyone else feel slightly inadequate after seeing TeeGee's picture?

Just kidding - I'm impressed!
My garden is smaller than your Rome, but my pilum is harder than your sternum!

Obelixx

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Re: Onion sets in root trainers?
« Reply #9 on: April 03, 2021, 20:52:00 »
In my Belgian garden I learned to start onion sets off in cell trays as winter could be brutal.   Japanese onions for planting in autumn would have a 50%failure rate some winters and spring, for planting summer onion sets, maight not arrive till mid April.

In this garden I have the opposite problem - heatwaves and droughts - so last year's crop was good, but small after being started in modules and then dried using Tee Gee's trick with a pallet to hang them upside down when harvested.

This year I've planted both garlic and shallots in early December and straight in the ground to see if that helps with the problem of early heatwaves, droughts, etc.   So far so good but not yet harvested so who knows?
Obxx - Vendée France

gray1720

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Re: Onion sets in root trainers?
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2021, 23:11:34 »
I used  to always put my winter onions out, but the plots are so exposed and flood prone that they were rarely much ahead of the spring-sown ones, and often I'd get a fraction of what I planted back. The last couple of years it's been units, and now root trainers.
My garden is smaller than your Rome, but my pilum is harder than your sternum!

Vinlander

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Re: Onion sets in root trainers?
« Reply #11 on: April 04, 2021, 14:32:20 »
I used to get a lot of onion sets pulled out of the ground (presumably by birds), and this overlapped with my spring holiday, so I started putting broken bits of glass over my onion sets as soon as I planted them. I also assumed this would reduce the need to water them - and this turned out to be correct.

When I got back to the plot 3 or 4 weeks later they had all sprouted and some of them had 20-30cm of leaves that had found their way along the glass and between the lumps of soil (I hadn't bothered making a tilth - why would I? I only do that for small seeds, so the lumps were about 4cm across). Some of the leaves were folded more than once, but the day after I removed the glass they were all upright. I did that for many years so I have before & after photos - but the pictures aren't worth any more than the words in this paragraph.

Obviously this wouldn't help against flooding but I've got raised beds wherever they're needed. I've also seen/visited many sites and none of them was flat and only one had a noticeable dip in the middle - but then I've never lived in Norfolk or the low countries... Are raised beds banned there?

Incidentally there was very little slug damage, but I was daft enough to try the same technique against mice on winter broad beans and the slug damage was horrendous - never again.

Cheers.

PS. I gave up on onion sets years ago - when I discovered it was difficult to buy sets cheaper than I could buy the same number of onions in 10Kg bags (and the failure rate is lower - provided you sniff the bags all over to ensure there are no bad'uns). Now I only grow banana shallots from seed.
With a microholding you always get too much or bugger-all. (I'm fed up calling it an allotment garden - it just encourages the tidy-police).

The simple/complex split is more & more important: Simple fertilisers Poor, complex ones Good. Simple (old) poisons predictable, others (new) the opposite.

cudsey

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Re: Onion sets in root trainers?
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2021, 17:48:31 »
When I put my onions in the ground I always net them because in the past I have so many pulled out by the birds as soon as they have got good growth on them I remove the netting 
Barnsley S Yorks

Obelixx

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Re: Onion sets in root trainers?
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2021, 18:14:48 »
I've not had problems with birds pulling onion sets since the first year I planted some and now plant a bit deeper.  However, this year we have 6 chooks wandering about the veggie plot and into everything.   We put butterfly netting over the garlic using big hoops as th they were cabbages and then we realised we needed netting to protect the PSB and cavolo nero cos the hens love brassicas and we ended up putting some of that cheap diagonal nylon netting round them and the next bit where I planted the shallots.  Works a treat altho every now and again we find one or two have snuck in and need fishing out.

Haven't grown shallots before but am assuming I harvest around June/July or when the foliage goes yellow and that I need to keep them weeded and fed till then.   Do I dry them like onions (wooden pallet and wires to hang them upside down) or keep them in their clumps and dry in nets? 
Obxx - Vendée France

pumpkinlover

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Re: Onion sets in root trainers?
« Reply #14 on: April 05, 2021, 08:04:46 »
Hi Obelixx, I'd love to answer that but all the shallots I have ever grown have turned out to produce numerically equal but slightly smaller versions of the shallt I planted :BangHead: :BangHead: :BangHead:
« Last Edit: April 05, 2021, 08:10:17 by pumpkinlover »



Vinlander

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Re: Onion sets in root trainers?
« Reply #15 on: April 05, 2021, 12:25:22 »
Hi Obelixx, I'd love to answer that but all the shallots I have ever grown have turned out to produce numerically equal but slightly smaller versions of the shallt I planted :BangHead: :BangHead: :BangHead:

Yes there was a lot on this subject a while ago. I've bought many batches of shallot sets over the years, largely in the hope that they would end up cheaper than onion sets but it has never come to pass, due to what seems an inevitable decline to the position you describe.

It would help if someone (unlike myself) has tried feeding their shallot sets really well from the very beginning - does it make any difference?

The set growers must do something to stop or break this vicious circle - or do they start from seed and sell the sets until this logarithmic decline sets in a few seasons later?

Maybe they have access to hormones that keep it at bay? (I'm avoiding a conspiracy theory that their policy is to sell only the shallot varieties that have this problem - a stealth version of the Terminator gene - so "heads they win tails I lose").

I find banana shallot seeds are a much better answer - they are no more trouble than onion seed (though they do prefer to have a lot more compost under them), they taste better and the shape means there's less waste when you cut the root disc (basal stem) off.

Cheers.

With a microholding you always get too much or bugger-all. (I'm fed up calling it an allotment garden - it just encourages the tidy-police).

The simple/complex split is more & more important: Simple fertilisers Poor, complex ones Good. Simple (old) poisons predictable, others (new) the opposite.

Beersmith

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Re: Onion sets in root trainers?
« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2021, 13:42:51 »
Shallots sold in stores and supermarkets for culinary use are almost always treated to prevent germination.  Trust me, I've tried this.  Weeks and weeks after setting some I had no sign of any root development despite mild spring weather and my other shallots going strong. I don't think this is done to thwart growers, but simply to extend shelf life and make sure they don't start to show green shoots which might discourage shoppers.

I always put my onion sets directly into the ground.

But a really good use of root trainers is to put 4 to 6 shallot seeds in each and plant once the roots are well developed.  I always grow the majority of my shallots from seed.  A typical packet of shallot seeds might be 200 or 250.  So my approach is very much like that of Vinlander.

Strictly speaking, some of these seeds may technically be a thin or banana shaped type of onion rather than a true shallot, but they are excellent for cooking, so why worry!
« Last Edit: April 05, 2021, 14:07:09 by Beersmith »
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Obelixx

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Re: Onion sets in root trainers?
« Reply #17 on: April 05, 2021, 16:00:58 »
If this crop works well I shall probably try them again next year or maybe even go for seed raised in cells.

I asked OH to weed our shallot patch and the surface is baked so hard he can't get except with a big border fork so I've got teh sprinkler on for half an hour to soften it all.
Obxx - Vendée France

 

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