Know your onions- When is the best time to plant

07 August 2018 | Posted in Food by The Marshalls Family


Autumn is an exciting, hustle-and-bustle time in the garden for many gardening jobs; (lawn-care, planting spring ornamentals, tree-planting, to name a few) and planting onions and garlics is a job that many a home-grower just likes to get over and done with, to forget about until harvest time next spring.

Spring, on the other hand, is a much more inviting time of year and one that some home-growers prefer for their onion and garlic bulb-planting session.

So it may be down to your taste; or indeed your schedule. Life’s busy at times and it may well be your hectic calendar that determines when you plant your onions or garlics.

The deciding factors

I’ve found that a range of factors determine whether planting before or after Christmas is the better option. It generally comes down to geography and the lay of the land; the nature of your soil and, of course, how busy is your calendar.

What are your growing conditions?

Spring planting

Autumn planting

Heavy soil?



Exposed site?



Cold part of the UK?



Earlier harvests wanted?



Dry site?



Busy autumn?



OnionPlantshalllotsAutumn-planting is best when it’s a dry site or it’s hard to get to a water source. This is because spring-planting onions are more likely to stress out and produce seed heads at the expense of the bulb (bolting). Autumn-planting onions will have toughened up through the winter and are less prone to stress.

Give both methods a try

You may wish to try both methods in your first year and see which planting time reaps the greatest harvests? I did this and personally I preferred autumn-planting, especially with garlic. This is because garlic sets (pre-planting cloves) are more likely to split over the winter as they grow into individual cloves than in spring. Plus I like a mid-summer harvest rather than a late-summer to autumn harvest.

OnionplantinggarlicsetsSo do you prefer a refreshing onion and mint salad to go with a main dish fit for summer or a gamey onion casserole as the cold autumn days roll in. 

Let me know what you decide and how you are getting on with your home-grown onion and garlic. Pictures, comments, ideas and tips are always welcome so share your stories with us.

See how to grow onions and shallots

See how to grow garlic

See all varieties and growing accessories for onions and garlics

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