Onions have been hard to date by archaeologists, but it’s generally thought that they’ve been eaten since prehistoric times and have been cultivated for at least 5000 years.
Onions grew wild and were indigenous to many parts of the world for many years.
As well as being a valuable food crop, onions have been used in herbal medicines for many centuries.
A common preparation, still used today to soothe cough and cold symptoms;
“Slice an onion and place in a small bowl with a little sugar. Cover and leave overnight. The resulting liquid should be sipped first thing in the morning.”
Onions have been proved to balance insulin levels, therefore reducing blood pressure. They are one of the few vegetables that can significantly reduce the risk of heart disease through lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Onions are also a good source of B vitamins, vitamin C and dietary fibre and there are only 40 calories in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of onions.
Garlic, leeks and chives are close relatives, botanically speaking, of onions. I found these sets on Amazon (UK). I haven’t grown red onions before but I might try these this year.
“A mid-late maturing variety, Red Baron onions produce firm, globe-shaped bulbs with a beautiful, blood-red skin and red-rimmed flesh inside.
When planted early, the bulbs can come out quite large. Their strong skins lend towards their excellent keeping abilities, and stored properly they should last you until it’s time to harvest your next crop.”
Onions are fairly hardy and were growing wild for centuries among other plants. For this reason, many gardeners will say that onions will grow well in a bed of weeds. I’ve always found, though, that keeping the weeds away allows the onions space to breathe and grow well. And sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between spring onion leaves and grass so best to keep the weeds under control especially when growing these types of onions.
Everyday onions and shallots are usually easier to grow from sets. All plants started originally from seed I guess, but onions take a long time to germinate and develop so it’s a good idea to give them a head start.
I like growing shallots or everlasting onions because one ‘set’ will develop lots more and you get a whole bunch for the price of one!
P.S. Download this step by step guide to growing onions at home.
How to Grow Onions (updated edition)
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