Growing Spring Onion in South Australia
Introducing Spring onion
Spring onions are versatile in the kitchen and very easy to grow, which makes them a great beginner crop. They’re not particularly fussy, but they will do best in a sunny spot with rich, well-draining soil and plenty of water. They grow all through the year and tolerate the winter cold, but may struggle through the hottest months.
There are a range of varieties available. Some are grown only as spring onions and will never produce large onion bulbs, but any onion can actually be used as a spring onion. Simply harvest them early while they are still immature and haven’t formed bulbs yet.
Many gardeners choose to sow their main onion crop extra thickly and then harvest part of it as spring onions which thins the bed and makes space for the remaining onions to grow out and bulb properly when the time comes.
Spring onions are a great onion alternative for small gardens. They grow beautifully in pots and containers and you can plant them densely which means you get a big harvest out of a small spot.
They’re hardy, not fussy, and don’t take up a lot of space, so they’re a great little crop to pop into any empty spots you have in your veggie garden. Remember to plant them regularly so that you always have a fresh bunch ready for the kitchen.
Try not to let the soil dry out. Spring onions thrive in damp soil.
Spring onions do best in full sun, but will still be happy in a spot that gets some shade, especially if you're growing them in the warmer months.
Spring onions like rich, well-draining soil with plenty of organic matter, so work in plenty of compost. They prefer a slightly alkaline soil, so add some lime to your soil if its slightly acidic. Remember, most compost and manure that you add, will over time, make the soil slightly acidic, so it’s worth checking the ph. of your beds every now and again.
Unlike bulbing onions, spring onions can be sown, grown and harvested through a large portion of the year. If you’re sowing them outdoors, they’ll struggle to germinate in the very hottest and coldest months, but they can be sown indoors and planted out once the weather is milder. The plants themselves don’t mind cold weather.
Sow your seeds thickly and cover with soil or compost. A layer of soil about 1cm thick is ideal. The seeds need dark to germinate, but you don’t want a layer so thick that they can’t push through. Spring onions like to grow close together in bunches. They are upright-growers so they don’t’ compete with each other for sunlight and their roots untangle easily when it’s time to harvest. Keep the soil damp while the seeds are germinating.
If you’re planting them during the hottest or coldest months, they’ll need a little extra attention.
Spring onions can also be grown from sets or small plants. Place a small amount of bonemeal into each hole before planting. This encourages your spring onions to develop strong root systems which will help them to thrive and grow into strong plants. Remember that they like to be planted close together in bunches. Water them in well and keep the soil damp.
This easy-to-grow crop needs no care. Just plant them, keep them watered, and then harvest.
Keep the soil nice and damp. This may mean that you need to water 2-3 times a week if the weather is warm.
If your soil is rich and well prepared, then extra feeding may not be necessary, but a feeding of compost tea or fish emulsion every 4-6 weeks will help your spring onions thrive.
Apply a generous layer of organic mulch to help keep the soil moist for your water-loving spring onions. Lucerne, sugar cane or pea-straw are all good options.
Spring onions can be cut off at ground level to harvest. This means that the roots remain in the ground and will re-sprout to give you a quick second harvest. Alternatively, pull the whole plant out of the ground by gently twisting them as close to the soil level as possible.