A little meat goes a long way—with plenty of onions to flavour the dish. We shall need all the meat-stretching flavour we can harvest, and now is the critical time in the life of the spring-sown onion. On the care taken in lifting and ripening depends its ability to keep well in storage.
First step is to bend the tops over and then leave for about a fortnight while they shrivel. If you have some “bull-necks” which refuse to be bent, use them up in the kitchen in the next few weeks.
To lift, loosen the bulbs by pushing a fork into the soil well under them, and lever then up.
Then lay the bulbs on their side with the under-surface and roots so placed as to catch the full sun. Now they must be thoroughly dried before you take them into the dry shed, spare bedroom or wherever you are going to store them.
General opinion nowadays is that bending the leaves over on onions actually does more harm than good – weakening the neck and reducing the storage life.
If the month is a “baker,” the process should not take long—just lay the bulbs on firm ground or on a path until the skins are really dry. If the weather alternates between dry and wet, the onions much be lifted off the soil and the most made of the sunny spells by sheltering your onions on a home-made drying frame.
Prop a piece of wire netting on four corner pegs, spread the bulbs on it, then above them—about 3 in. higher—prop a sheet of corrugated iron on four more pegs. The sun, when it comes, beats on the iron and warms the onions beneath; the air circulates freely, and the crop ripens quickly and well.
See that the soil is firm, and sow fairly quickly. Use varieties of the White Spanish type or those specially recommended for autumn sowing. In the North, the first week in the month is the time ; the third week is early enough down South.
Some growers divide their sowings, saving some of the seed till late December. They find that the December sowing produces fewer plants that run to seed. But whenever you sow, keep weeds firmly in check.