Is it worth growing your own onions?

Tiffany Daneff / 08 April 2016

With the price of onions set to increase by 60% there has never been a better time to start growing your own onions.

Now obviously you shouldn’t believe everything you read in the papers but this is one piece of news that I’m more than happy to go with… That the wholesale price of onions could rise by 60% after a hot dry summer last year hit major growers in Spain and Holland. This made the onions bolt.

The problem’s been made worse because of a wet growing season in Britain. According to The Grocer magazine those onions that do reach supermarkets are going to be smaller than usual.

The news came on the day I unpacked a bumper mixed box of onion sets which I’d bought in a last minute panic forgetting that I had already ordered a load back at the end of last year.

Well it’s all fine with me. Onions, in my experience, are a delight. Sure, if you made me do a blind taste test I suspect I would not be able to distinguish homegrown from shop bought, but that doesn’t bother me. They simply give so much good value.

Here’s why:

  • Rows of healthy green shoots always look good in the veg garden, especially when other things are run ragged with pests and blight.
  • They are dead easy to plant and maintain. All they need is a little light weeding.
  • Harvesting couldn’t be simpler.
  • You can go all French and plait them if you feel so inclined.
  • A stash of onions looks good in the larder.
  • Not having to remember to buy more onions is one less hassle in life. Last season’s crop lasted three months.
  • Ditto not running out just when you’re about to make a stock/roast a chicken.

Know your onions

My triple pack contained Roscoff, Sturon and Red Arrow sets, 250g of each. These were on offer at £7.99 from Suttons but I have just checked and they are currently waiting more stock. You can email and ask to be notified when they are back in.

Thompson & Morgan spring planting sets are heat treated to stop them bolting, prices from £3.99 for 75 sets.

If you like large onions T&M recommend Setton, Hercules or Golden Ball, all selected for their large uniform bulb shape, full flavour and long storage qualities.

F1 Santero, (also heat treated to prevent bolting) which I ordered back last December is still available. It is resistant to downy mildew (not something I have yet encountered, touch wood.) 200g for £3.99 from

Find out how to grow onions

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.