Spring onions are from the same family as common globe onions but instead of having the large bulb at the base, spring onions have slender white stems with green strappy leaves on the top. They can be grown throughout most of the year.
Spring onions are sometimes called bunching onions because they tend to grow in bunches in the ground. Their flavour isn’t as strong as other onions so it doesn’t need to be cooked to be eaten. Plus, it doesn’t make your eyes water when it is sliced.
In the garden, spring onions can be planted in amongst lots of other vegetables and herbs because it lets of a scent that masks the smell of the other plants. This scent confuses the insects who hopefully don’t realise that other delicious vegetables are in the garden so they tend to fly off elsewhere. This is called Companion Planting.
When planting into the garden, dig lots of compost through the topsoil first and then use a dibbler to make holes 10cm apart. Place a seedling in each hole and gently push the soil around the rootball. Water the seedlings very lightly but if they fall over, don’t worry as they will soon stand back up.
Spring onions grow really well in containers that are at least 20cm deep and because they don’t take up much room, they can be mixed in with other salad greens and vegetables such as lettuce and tomatoes. Fill the container with premium potting mix and plant the seedlings about 5cm apart. Water lightly and make sure the container is in a position to get at least 6 hours of direct sunlight.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
Water the spring onions regularly but don’t fertilise them as they rarely need it. Don’t let weeds grow around the onions as they can smother them if they get too big.
Spring onions can be harvested almost as soon as they are big enough which is when their stem is at least 1cm thick. To harvest the whole onion, simply pull it out of the ground and shake off the dirt. Cut off the dangly roots and store the onions wrapped in plastic wrap in the fridge.
It is possible to just cut off part of the green leaves of each spring onion with scissors and leave the rest in the ground to keep on growing. These bits can then be taken into the kitchen and used in salads or as a garnish even if the onion isn’t quite big enough to harvest.
HOW TO EAT
To prepare spring onions for cooking, just wash the stem and leaves and use a small knife to cut the bottom centimetre off where the roots were attached. After that, the onion can be sliced into tiny disks or longer battons.
The fleshy white section can be added to stir fries or omelettes where they will be cooked for a minute or two. The green leafy part can be sliced thinly and mixed through salads or sprinkled over savoury dishes as a delicious garnish.
Find some great recipes in the Smarty Plants Kitchen.
HOW THEY GROW
Spring onion seedlings look almost like grass but as they grow, their white base starts to thicken and their leaves become hollow like straws. Beneath the ground are thick but very shallow growing roots. They are from the same family as the globe onion but spring onions don’t form the round ball at the bottom.
Botanical Name: Allium fistulosum
Life Cycle: Annual
When to Grow: Any time of the year.
Height/Width: 30cm x 10cm.
Requirements: Plant in full sun and water every day unless it rains. Don’t apply any extra fertiliser as they rarely need it.
Nutritional Benefits: A chemical in onion helps the good bacteria in our body to grow and keep us healthy.