Now I know why they’re called spring onions


Scallions, otherwise known as spring onions were a tricky item in my veg growing schedule for a long time. I could never get them to grow. No matter what I tried or when I sowed, I either got nothing or I got little stragglers that faded away never to get past about an inch high.

Here’s my simple how-to guide.

I very nearly wrote them off but then my mother-in-law, Tina, showed me her ‘spring onion production line’ in her greenhouse. She had a big pot full of them and effortlessly sprinkled some new seeds in a fresh pot right in front of my eyes before uttering the words, “see, it’s easy”.


Not wanting to let ‘mother-in-law’ down, I tried again. This time it worked! I sowed the seeds straight into big pots and all last summer I had a production line going and I felt like I could carry on growing them all year round. I sowed my last batch around the end of September and then nothing happened. The little seedlings didn’t appear and I thought my luck had run out. So I cast the pots aside and made room in the greenhouse for my tender plants and bulbs that would live in there over the winter.

Then about 3 weeks ago I saw them. The most beautiful spring onions ever! They had grown over winter, outside in the freezing cold! I couldn’t believe it. They had over-wintered! What an amazing revelation! An accidental surprise, or to my mother-in-law, a perfect example of my veg growing ability ;)


Anyway, this is no miracle, this is what is supposed to happen when you sow spring onions at the end of summer. I’m over the moon though because it gets me even nearer to the challenge I set myself recently to source more local food and to have more of my own crops available all year round. If I can pull this off again it means I can have spring onions ‘in stock’ March to October.


So there it is, the easiest over-wintering I’ve ever done and this year I’ll be sowing more. Amazing how a couple of pots of spring onions have changed my whole outlook on growing veg over the winter!

Are you eating an over-wintered crop now? Have you got any spring onion tips?


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32 Responses to “Now I know why they’re called spring onions”

  1. The Garden Smallholder March 31, 2013 at 10:34 pm #

    They do look lovely, I’m so going to try this! It has been years since I grew a successful crop of spring onions. Not being able to get them past the young seedling stage I was ready to give up on growing them again. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Anna B March 31, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

      Hello there! I know exactly how you feel, I very nearly gave up too. I think trial and error is a great way to learn but until I saw Tina’s production line it was just error all the way for me! I hope you manage a successful crop this year :) Thanks so much for dropping by!

  2. gardeninacity March 31, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

    I’m afraid our vegetable plot is too tiny for overwintering vegetables. I do love green onions, though.

    • Anna B March 31, 2013 at 11:24 pm #

      Hi Jason, these were literally just two pots that got left over winter and they just did their thing! Not much room required. It was such a nice surprise to find they’d grown, it’s quite remarkable I think given our weather. Thanks so much for dropping by :)

  3. Charlie@Seattle Trekker March 31, 2013 at 11:51 pm #

    My goal is also to have more veggies that I grow myself so I reduce my carbon footprint year round. Thank you for sharing your tips and secrets to successfully grow onions.

    • Anna B April 1, 2013 at 9:21 am #

      Hi Charlie! I hope this works well for you too. Thanks for dropping by!

  4. Sandra Pullman April 1, 2013 at 5:12 am #

    Congratulations, they look fantastic. Enjoy eating
    Cheers Sandi

    • Anna B April 1, 2013 at 10:38 am #

      Hi Sandra! Thanks so much! They do taste good! This was a nice surprise but I wish I had known it would happen then I would have grown more!!

  5. Nadezda April 1, 2013 at 6:37 am #

    Anna, I’m not eating my onion now, they are still under the snow. I’ve sown some seeds in October and truly say, am not sure onions could over-winter.

    • Anna B April 1, 2013 at 10:37 am #

      Hi Nadeza, I hope when the snow clears you have some surprise spring onions too! I sowed my seeds at the end of summer. I’ve never tried over-wintering proper onions though. I do know people that try but my main harvest in the summer lasts me until the next one arrives.

  6. Sue@GLAllotments April 1, 2013 at 9:37 am #

    We’ve tried growing spring onions ioin pots as well as on the plot and neither method seems to work for us – what compost do you use?

    • Anna B April 1, 2013 at 10:35 am #

      Hi Sue, exactly like you I tried in the plot for years, they would come up then die off, I tried seed trays too but nothing seems to have worked quite like these pots. The compost could have been anything to be honest, we tend to just stock up from where we might be at the time, B&Q or even Morrisons. I’d like to choose compost more carefully really in the future but I’ve not quite got that far yet, plus my experiments with coir last month hasn’t been overly successful. I’d love to know if you give this pot method a go and I hope it works out for you too :)

      • Anna B April 1, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

        I’ve just been up to the allotment Sue to have a look at the spring onions and have a think about the compost. It’s so dark and soft that I think it must be seed cutting compost, but again, could be any old make.

  7. Cathy April 1, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    Another of Life’s little mysteries solved – although not, it seems, for everyone ;)

    • Anna B April 1, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

      Hi Cathy!! This is true, but just think, if I’d have given up on them I’d never have made this discovery. The mystery can be solved by all! ;)

  8. Holleygarden April 1, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    Well, well. I’ve never been able to grow them successfully, either. I’ve got a couple of empty pots – I think I’ll give this a try!

    • Anna B April 1, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

      Really hope it works out for you too :) Thanks so much for dropping by!

  9. annie_h April 1, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

    Isn’t it funny, I thought everyone else was growing spring onions successfully and it was just me that was the dud! When you read gardening books they make them sound such an easy crop to grow. But from all your comments I’m not alone. I’m going to give your method a try. I’ve tried sowing direct and its has never worked. Well fingers crossed and I’ll keep you posted!

    • Anna B April 1, 2013 at 6:41 pm #

      Hi Annie! Until they started miraculously working out for me last year I thought I was the only dud too! I really hope it works out for you too :) Thanks so much for dropping by!

  10. Ricki Grady April 1, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    One of the great things about gardening is that it’s full of surprises. Pleasant one there, with the spring onions. I’m going to give it a go.

    • Anna B April 1, 2013 at 7:25 pm #

      Hi Ricki! That’s so true! Good to have pleasant surprises indeed. I hope they grow well for you too :) Thanks so much for dropping by!

  11. thesneakymagpie April 1, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    They are beautiful Anna! I never knew you could do that, and all alliums always take me ages to germinate. I am planting out my onion sets this week and will also do spring onions in pots. I am so happy to have something in the ground at long last. I always have cavolo nero and chard throughout the winter but I am hoping to have more this year.

    • Anna B April 1, 2013 at 7:27 pm #

      Hi sneaky magpie! I hope the spring onions work out for you too! I’ve still not planted out my onions. My soil just feels too cold. It’s bitter up here. Very frustrating. I’ve been at the allotment all day and have got my plastic cloches out warming the soil and I staked some of my broad beans. I’m getting so sick of the cold! Hope it’s better where you are :) Thanks so much for your comment.

  12. Christina April 2, 2013 at 7:33 am #

    I’ve had the same problems sadly even in pots but I’m trying again. Christina

    • Anna B April 2, 2013 at 11:36 am #

      Funny how a lot of people have difficulties, all I can say is that if I can do it then so can you! Don’t give up :) Thanks for dropping by!

  13. Jo April 2, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    I always grow my spring onions in containers and never have any problem with them. I just sowed a batch of White Lisbon yesterday. I’m quite partial to them in a sandwich with cheese.

    • Anna B April 3, 2013 at 9:00 am #

      Hi Jo! Great to hear another success story and in containers too. I think this might be key. Once they get bigger and take hold I think they could be planted out, but I tend to just stick to my pots. I love them chopped onto anything I make that is vaguely Thai influenced and yes in a good ole cheese sandwich :) Thanks so much for your comment!

  14. notjustgreenfingers April 3, 2013 at 8:42 am #

    I think it’s great when you grow your own food. Well done with your spring onions, they look very tasty.

    • Anna B April 3, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

      Thanks Mrs Thrift! :)

  15. Anna April 5, 2013 at 6:29 pm #

    Nature never does cease to surprise and those little onions wanted to survive Anna. Here the leek seedlings that I forgot to transplant last year are still going :) I’ve been reading Charles Dowdings book
    “How To Grow Winter Vegetables’ which is inspiring me to grow more for this particular season.

    • Anna B April 5, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

      That sounds like an interesting book! I might have to add that to my collection. I’ve been put off growing certain veg but prepared to give it another go because I just miss having my own food so much! I’ll definitely grow the spring onions again. Thanks so much for your comment :)

  16. Janet/PlantalisciousJ April 12, 2013 at 9:17 am #

    That is definitely how I am going to grow spring onions from now on, why on earth had I never thought of that – plus it gives me more room in my veg beds. I did manage to over winter some by sowing some last September, so that has gone in the virtual notebook as a must-do task for this september, I figure some in the greenhouse and some outside should mean I can keep them coming through most of the year. Please thank your mil from me for the tip!


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