When the pods begin to turn brown, pull up the plants, tie them in bundles by the roots and hang them in a dry, open shed to ripen thoroughly. When quite dry, shell out the seeds and store them in boxes in a cold, frost-proof shed.
Last month’s Guide dealt with ripening-off the onions. They must be thoroughly dry before storing. Onions keep best when the air can get at them freely, and the easiest way to make sure of this is to hang them up on ropes. This is a job you can do later on, when you can find the time.
First remove all the roots loose skin and most of the tops. Then hang up a rope about 3 ft long, with a knot at the end, and tie a single good-sized onion to the end of it to serve as a base. For the rest of the rope, tie on four onions at a time. It is best to grade your onions: large onions on one rope and small onions on another.
Arrange them round the rope and hold them with one hand, while with the other you tie the tops to the rope by running the string round twice and finishing with a knot. Cut off the unwanted tops as you go along, but there’s no need to cut the binding string. And so on up the rope, each bunch fitting snugly on top of the bunch beneath.
Some varieties of onions will not keep for long, for instance, Giant Rocca, Excelsior and Prizetaker— these should be used first. Ailsa Craig, Up-to-Date, Bedfordshire Champion and Southport Yellow Globe will last until Christmas, while varieties such as James’s Long Keeping, Giant Zittau, Nuneham Park and Ebenezer will last until late winter and spring.
Giant Rocca is very hard to find but you may be lucky. Excelsior and Prizetaker are no longer to be found. Ailsa Craig, Bedfordshire Champion and Southport Yellow Globe are easily available but Up-to-Date is no longer listed. Of the long keeping onions, Nuneham Park has vanished but James’s Long Keeping, Giant Zittau and Ebenezer are all available.