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When to Plant Onions and Garlic

How to get ahead of the rest….

The rain stopped at ten past two and resumed at half past three. Seizing this window of opportunity for fresh air and productive gardening I filled three raised beds with red and white onions, shallots, standard and elephant garlic.

I like to get these in as soon as possible in the new year, as soon as I see them in the shops or garden centres that’s it. I always buy onion sets, I can’t be bothered with growing them from seed. For the price of a bag of shallots it’s just not worth the extra effort and has to be one of the quickest and easiest foods to plant and grow.

onion bulbs

In previous years I had to contend with blackbirds and worse of all, pigeons pulling them out of the ground the moment my back was turned. Pigeons irritate me beyond description and  people who feed them in the middle of busy shopping places should be flogged. This year my sole purpose is to starve these feathered vermin of any of my plantings, begining with my onions. 

planting onion bulbs

The gardening experts will tell you to push the bulbs into the ground leaving only the tip exposed, others will go an inch further and tell you to bury them just below the surface to hide them from the vultures. Forget it. Birds sit and watch you dig soil over because they know there will be worms for lunch, they then watch you rake the ground over because they know you’re going to plant something for their dinner, I kid you not.

If you bury them below the ground then at some point they will produce young green shoots which, inevitably will appear out of the ground in full view of the birds. You can figure out the rest. The only way to avoid high blood pressure is to cover them with a cloche of sorts and leave it on as long as possible unless you want the rabbits to take the tops off them.

There’s not a pigeon in England that will get my onions this year, they are protected by the mother of all cloches. The sceptics among you may wonder why I don’t just buy some from the supermarket and save myself a small fortune and future heart surgery. I don’t know either!



  1. Rod says:

    thanks for the tip, I hope to find a gap in the rain this week and start preparing my own small plot in readiness for the onions.

    January 16, 2008 @ 4:55 pm

  2. miles says:

    No problem! best get them over to you before they start sprouting! :)


    January 16, 2008 @ 5:49 pm

  3. Cid says:


    I too saw a gap in the rain and dashed out to do a bit of shopping :) As to the alliums, your efforts will bring reward but it won’t surprise you to know mine are the floral variety, bright fuchsia pink and utterly fabulous. When it gets to harvest time I’ll be wishing I’d gone for a few shallots and garlic, perhaps it’s not too late.

    Everyone should have a friend like you Miles to spur them on in the garden and kitchen ~ we are lucky indeed.


    January 16, 2008 @ 5:56 pm

  4. miles says:

    Thanks for that, in this weather I need spurring on! You’ve plenty of time for your aliums-go for it!


    January 16, 2008 @ 7:23 pm

  5. Hank says:

    I got two words for your pigeon problem: Air Gun. Deadly accurate, and legal to shoot, at least in American subdivisions. Besides, then you can go looking for recipes for pigeon pie or pigeon terrine, roast pigeon, etc…

    January 17, 2008 @ 1:35 am

  6. miles says:

    Good idea, they’re a lot better to eat than look at in your garden. You can’t beat pigeon pie!

    January 17, 2008 @ 8:37 am

  7. Jay says:

    Pigeons = Flying Rats!

    January 22, 2009 @ 5:51 pm

  8. miles says:

    You couldn’t be more right if you tried. Now we have email I really cannot see the point in them at all.
    Welcome to the blog and thanks for commenting, I hope you visit again.

    Kind regards

    January 22, 2009 @ 7:16 pm

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