A very popular and reliable variety for well over 100 years. 'Bedfordshire Champion' is ideally suited to our climate producing large globe shaped, golden brown skinned bulbs with crisp white flesh.
Late summer maturity. The well grown bulbs have excellent storing capabilities. Grows best in well-drained, rich soil in full sun.
Few vegetables have more uses in the kitchen or are in such constant demand than onions. Nowadays we can obtain onions fresh from the garden or out of store almost all year round from just a couple of carefully-timed sowings.
Choose an open, sunny site with good drainage which has preferably been dug and manured in the previous autumn. Do not plant or sow on freshly manured bed. Lime if the soil is acid. Avoid planting in an area where the previous crop was of the onion family. Many exhibitors grow their show onions in a permanent bed in order to build up fertility, but in the kitchen plot it is a much better idea to change the site annually.
Apply a general fertilizer if needed and rake the surface when the soil is reasonably dry. Tread over the area and then rake again to produce a fine, even tilth.
Sow in Autumn or Late Winter to Spring
Seeds can be sown direct in autumn to be harvested in 46 weeks to produce large bulbs (not advisable in very cold areas) Otherwise sow in February under cloches or direct March to April and harvest in 22 weeks. In cold areas and for exhibition bulbs sow under glass in January, harden off in March and transplant outdoors in April.
Sow very thinly in 1.2cm (½ inch) deep drills, leaving about 25 to 30 cm (10 to 12 inches) between rows. Water very gently if the soil is dry, and cover with soil.
When large enough to handle, thin the crop in two stages. Close spacing will give smaller onions than wider spacings. Lift the seedlings carefully – the soil should be moist and all thinnings removed to deter onion fly. (They may be used as spring onions)
Thin Spring-sown seedlings first to 2.5cm (1 inch) then when the seedlings have straightened up to 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 inches) apart.
Thin Autumn sown onion seedlings to about 2.5cm (1 inch) in the autumn. Further thin to about 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 inches) between plants in the Spring.
Seedlings raised under glass should be transplanted 4in (10cm) apart, leaving 9in (23cm) between the rows. The roots must fall vertically in the planting hole and the bulb base should be about ½ in (1cm) below the surface. Plant firmly.
Hoe carefully or weed by hand – dense weed growth will seriously affect yield. Water if the weather is dry (not otherwise) and feed occasionally. Feed an autumn-sown crop in March. Mulching is useful for cutting down the need for water and for suppressing weeds. Break off any flower stems which appear. Stop watering once the onions have swollen and pull back the covering earth or mulch to expose the bulb surface to the sun.
When the bulb is mature the foliage turns yellow and topples over. (Some gardeners bend over the tops as the leaves start to yellow). Leave them for about 2 weeks and then carefully lift with a fork on a dry day.
Inspect the bulbs carefully – all damaged, soft, spotted and thick-necked onions should be set aside for immediate use in the kitchen or for freezing. The rest can be stored and will need to be thoroughly dried. Spread out the bulbs on sacking or in trays, outdoors if the weather is warm and sunny. Drying will take 7 to 21 days, depending on the size of the bulbs and the air temperature.
Avoid storing whole onions in the refrigerator, which has a damp environment. Do not store onions next to potatoes. Both potatoes and onions emit a gas which causes them both to sprout and spoil faster.
Store the whole onions in a dry place, in an area where there is good air circulation. They should also be stored in a cool, dark area to prevent them from sprouting and rotting too soon as a result of light and humidity. Store the onions in trays, net bags, tights or tie to a length of cord as onion ropes and they will keep until late spring.
The the skin of a white onion will give shades of orange while the skin of the red onion can be used to create a medium green, slightly lighter than forest green.
How to slice an onion without crying:
Freeze the onion for ten minutes before cutting. The sulphuric compound that leads to tears will not react as quickly when it’s cold. If you forget, just light a candle, as a burning flame can burn away the sulphuric fumes.
If you have just painted a room and the fumes are a little overwhelming, slice an onion in half and place it in a bucket of cold water. Leave the bucket in the room overnight. The fumes will magically dissapear (or a least be reduced a fair bit).
Prior to Linnaean taxonomy the Onion family was spread over four genera. The bulb Onion, Shallot and Welsh Onion were found in the Cepa genera. Garlic was placed in the Allium genera, Leeks were listed as Porrum and the Chive was classed as Schoenoprasum, its current species name.
The genus name, Allium comes from the Celtic "All," meaning pungent, the species name, cepa, is from the Roman "cepae," or onion. The common name onion seems to come from the Latin "Unio," or one, signifying that the bulb is of one unit.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 1 gram Average Seed Count 250 Seeds Seeds per gram 250 seeds / gram Common Name Maincrop, White Bulbing Onion
Heritage (English pre 1898).
Family Alliaceae Genus Allium Species cepa Cultivar Bedfordshire Champion Hardiness Hardy Biennial Spacing Thin to about 5 to 10 cm (2 to 4 inches) Position Choose an open, sunny site with good drainage which has preferably been dug and manured in the previous autumn. Time to Sow Sow in Autumn or Late Winter to Spring Germination 21 days Time to Harvest Autumn-sown - 46 weeks, Spring-sown - 22 Weeks Notes Stored seed viability: 1-2 years. Yield from a 10 ft row: 4kg (8lb). Stored seed viability: 1-2 years.