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Dublin: 15 °C Sunday 22 September, 2019
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Add some flavour to your life: How to grow spring onions

Michael Kelly continues his Grow It Yourself series with spring onions, which are so easy to grow you can leave the kids in charge.

Michael Kelly Grower

QUICK GROWING, USEFUL and deliciously mild, spring onions are the quintessential salad crop. They can be grown in containers or anywhere you have some space. They’re also a great crop for kids to grow.

Sowing

Spring onions like a rich well-drained soil in a sunny location. They are best sown in module trays indoors or under cover for later transplanting. Sow about eight-10 seeds per module.

About a month later, plant out each little clump of spring onions, spacing the clumps about 20cm apart. Alternatively, you can sow directly into the soil if you rake it to a fine tilth first.

Make drills about 1.5cm deep and 15cm apart. Sow the seed thinly into the drill and then cover with soil. It doesn’t matter if the onions are growing close together because (a) you are not trying to grow bulbs and (b) you can remove and eat as a way to thin them out.

Sow little and often (perhaps every fortnight) between March to July. A sowing of a winter hardy spring onion variety in Autumn will give you an early spring crop.

Growing

Keep them in your allium (onion, garlic, leeks, etc) rotation to prevent build up of diseases such as onion white rot. Hoe between the rows to keep weeds down.

In the event of a dry summer (or if growing in a greenhouse or polytunnel), water well. They won’t fare well in dry soil.

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Harvesting

Spring onions are ready to eat when about 15cm tall (usually about two months after sowing). They don’t keep well once harvested, so pull what you need and leave the rest to grow on.

Recommended Varieties

Ishikura Bunching is outstanding, perfect for bunching. The leaves are upright and dark green with a straight long white stem.

Problems

Spring onions grow so quickly that they generally don’t get affected by pests or diseases. They are relatively easy to grow.

GIY Tips

• Spring onions are great raw in salads but they are the classic stir-fry vegetable too.
• Don’t forget that thinnings of regular bulb varieties of onion can be used as “spring” onions too.

Recipe of the Week – Spring onion, potato and cheese fritters with quick pickled beetroot

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I came across this recipe from Tim “River Cottage” Maddams, and it’s a genius one for transforming spring onions, leftover spuds and vegetable drawer veggies into a colourful and lightly spiced treat.

Ingredients:

For the pickle

  • 1 beetroot, peeled and cut into long, thin matchsticks
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • a pinch of allspice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar

For the fritters

  • 100g/3½oz leftover baked, boiled or raw potatoes, such as King Edward or Maris Piper, grated
  • 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp caraway seeds
  • 50g hard cheese, such as parmesan, finely grated
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3½ tbsp cold beer or water
  • 50g/1¾oz self-raising flour
  • sunflower oil, for deep-frying

Directions:

For the pickle, put the beetroot in a bowl and season it with the sugar and allspice, a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Mix well and set aside for a few minutes. Drain off any excess liquid, then trickle over the vinegar and mix well.

For the fritters, put the potatoes in a bowl and season with salt, pepper and the caraway seeds. Mix in the spring onions and cheese.

Pour in the egg and beer, stir, then mix in the flour to make a thick batter. Pour 2.5cm/one-inch oil into a deep saucepan and heat to 180°C/350°F.

To test if it’s hot enough, dribble some of the batter into the hot oil. It should sizzle and turn golden brown after a minute or so. Watch the pan.

Carefully lower tablespoons of the batter into the hot oil and cook for one minute, then turn and cook the other side until golden and firm. Transfer to kitchen paper using a slotted spoon.

Season with a little salt and pepper and serve with the pickled beetroot.

Michael Kelly is a freelance journalist, author and founder of GIY.

Click here for more tips on how to grow your own veg.

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Michael Kelly  / Grower

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