If you're a spring onion devotee, as I am, it can be absolutely infuriating, when spring finally arrives, to find the supermarket shelves displaying bundles of long, fat, crisp spring onions at a ridiculous price, while your own are no more than seeds still in their packet. It can also seem kind of crazy to be sowing spring onion seed just as the world is going into hibernation but, believe it or not, that's what it takes to have those fresh green delicacies ready when you want them most.
Autumn is the best time to sow spring onion seed but it's absolutely not too late to do it now, providing you pop a cloche over the seed it to trap any heat that comes along (supple sticks of willow pushed into the soil to form hoops, and then covered with salvaged plastic works well). Once the seed germinates (which takes a little longer than usual in colder weather) your seedlings may look almost dormant over winter but, even before you're aware that the days are heating up, they'll be springing into life. With a dash of liquid fertilizer every week or two, you'll soon be sniggering at the supermarket specimens as you dive back home to slice your spring onions straight onto a cheese sandwich.
Green with Envy – tips for a green onion supply through the winter months
- Leave shallots, garlic, and red and white onions in a bowl on your sunniest window ledge. As they sprout, snip off the green shoots for use in salads.
- Transplant small clumps of chives or the bulbs of young tree onions (also known as Egyptian onions) into pots and sit them on your window ledge to encourage early growth. Snip as required.
- One of the warmest places in winter, is your car (if it's not parked under cover). If you can cope with friends and family thinking you've gone potty, leave onions or containers of onion seedlings or chives in your car. While you're at work or out shopping, you indoor garden will be chowing-down on all that sunlight and natural heat!