Which Onion Sets to Buy?

It’s about this time of year that I start to think about buying Onion sets. I must admit in previous years I have tended to buy what they were selling at the garden centre. But after growing a variety called Snowball last year I was very disappointed by its yield. I put it down to my soil or maybe me just not looking after them properly. But I recently read a trial that said that particular variety performed poorly – so maybe I should start taking notice of these trials?

Apparently, the soil here in the UK is not suited to all varieties of Onions. Sweet onions (the likes of which they grow in Spain) are difficult here because there are too many sulphur compounds in the soil (Which? Gardening January 2012).

I always grow from sets (immature Onions) rather than seed. And was interested to see that the following Onions did well in trials for UK soil:

Brown Onions

Troy (best overall 2010) – although many places don’t sell this variety anymore.
Autumn Gold – matures end of July
Centurion – matures mid July
Forum – matures mid July

Red Onions

Garnet – matures early Aug
Hyred – matures early Aug
Red Baron – matures early Aug

I think I’ll be giving Troy a go and also either Garnet or Hyred since I’ve already grown Red Barons in the past.

11 Comments on “Which Onion Sets to Buy?

  1. Hi, I’m surprised you’ve had trouble sourcing Troy – I find it’s often the first variety I come across! Suttons have them at the moment http://www.suttons.co.uk/Gardening/Vegetables/Vegetable+Seeds/Onion+Sets+-+Troy_232395.htm?sku=232395

    I’ve grown them many times and they do well for me.

    I also like Sturon and Stuttgarter, both of which do well for me. A good place to go for sourcing a wide variety of onion sets is (paradoxically) a Potato Day – most do sets as well. You can find your nearest here: http://www.potatoday.org/potatodays.htm

  2. Onions really are a versatile vegetable – there’s so much you can do with them and they are easy enough to grow.

    With grocery bills becoming more and more expensive people really need to look at growing more vegetables in their gardens.

    Nice post thanks!

  3. I grew Troy last year and do see it in my local garden centre. This year it’s Hercules, Centurion and Electric.

  4. Hi there
    I grew snowball last year too, the yield was fine for me in the North of France but they definitely don’t keep well. I grew another set called Hercules and they were great, good yield, keep well – I am still using them 6 months after I dug them up early (due to the excessive rain we had). Did you know onions used to be considered an aphrodisiac in the old days?

  5. I’ve been growing Sturon which have been pretty good for me. Also Turbo have been good and would also recommend Radar for an autmn set – though I haven’t bothered with over-wintering this year.

  6. I have previously grown Sturon and Stuttgarter and Red Baron over wintered with great success at the growing stage but when they are harvested and stored they rot even though I follow all the rules! I was told that sometimes infection can be in the onion set bulb so this year I will try growing from seed to see if there is a difference and I wont be overwintering onions again just in case!
    Will look out for Troy!

  7. I used Turbo Onion Sets from the local Wilkinsons Store and was quite surprised with the outcome,I liked them so much I bought 2 packs for this years growing. The sets cost me £1:48 for 500grams that’s about 80 ish onions.

  8. I’ve had a lot of success with Centurion and a variety called Stuttgarter, which produces sort of flat-ish onions.

    This year I’m using up some seeds I bought from from Seeds of Italy and an unidentifiable variety my mother bought from a stall in Argentina!

    It’s the first time I’ll have attempted growing from seed, and I’m going to start off four or five seeds to a module so I get a sort of bunch growing together a bit like shallots do.

  9. I’ve grown RADAR from sets (from Marshalls) for 2 years, with good yields and excellent keeping. Lifted in July and eating the last of them the following Jan. Also good success with Red Baron one year (also fr sets fr Marshalls). Hyred did not do so well for me – good onions, but small.