Pink Onions – finding Rosanna at another local market


I’d never heard of pink onions but as part of my quest to ‘shop locally’ I visited another market in Leeds last weekend and made the discovery. Slightly different to The farmers market at Horsforth, Kirkstall Abbey deli market is actually set in the grounds of a 12th century Cistercian abbey and the stalls include everything from crafts to cheese.


There was a large selection of produce based loosely around the local theme. I was happy to see Thistlemist Farm who I met at Horsforth last time and I restocked on their amazing soups! They use a combination of home grown and locally sourced farm veg and the soups are made in Leeds, which for me can’t get any more local.


I was disappointed there were no vegetables for sale? Perhaps a deli market isn’t the place for veg even though the sign for the market kind of indicates there would be some? Never mind, I went to Horsforth market yesterday and did my ‘big shop’ there!  I’ll definitely be going back to Kirkstall though because markets are clearly the way forward and especially in such a lovely setting. Plus, if I visit Headlingley market next weekend that that will be 3 weeks in a row that I’ve managed a weekly shop at a market instead of a supermarket – result!


One stall that immediately grabbed my attention was the Kirkstall allotment society. I took half a dozen ‘Rosanna’ onion seedlings. I was sold on the fact that they’re ‘not white, not red, they’re pink’. It was enough for me to become interested and then I googled Rosanna for more information when I got home.

Key’s of Lincolnshire describe the pink onion as having, “delicate pink-coloured outer skin and beautiful pink flesh and is exclusive to Key’s of Lincolnshire”. Then Tesco announced last year that they were the exclusive suppliers of this onion that had been grown in the Stour Valley on the Essex/Sussex border by Stourgarden. Exclusive hey, well not anymore.

They are still fairly elusive though with the only seed supplier I’ve found for Rosanna being Thompson & Morgan. I wish I’d bought more seedlings now and I’m very excited to see how they grow and taste. I’m keeping them in my greenhouse until they get considerably larger and will plant them out only when we’re frost free.

kirkstall_deli_market_5Loving the hop box bar!

Speaking of onions, I was hoping to plant my onion sets and potatoes out last weekend, the sun was shining but the ground was far too cold. It wouldn’t have damaged my veggies but they wouldn’t have started to grow, so instead I pottered around and I got my plastic poly tunnels out to start warming up the ground.

As I hoped, this weekend was just brilliant! The ground is warmer and I planted all my onion sets, one row of potatoes, some new perennials from my favourite local nursery B.Whiteley and continued sowing. Two full days of gardening right into the evenings and I’m feeling a few aches! As the saying goes, I’ll sleep tonight!

Have you planted your onions or potatoes out yet? How are your seedlings getting on? Have you had some spring-like weather?

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34 Responses to “Pink Onions – finding Rosanna at another local market”

  1. Charlie@Seattle Trekker April 7, 2013 at 10:33 pm #

    I love shopping the locale farmers markets and not the big box stores. I am a believer that it tastes better and I really like that it stimulates the economy where I live. I love your photos and your enthusiasm for the farmers in your area.

    • Anna B April 8, 2013 at 6:01 am #

      Thanks Charlie and I wholeheartedly agree. Thanks for dropping by :-)

  2. Holleygarden April 8, 2013 at 12:52 am #

    What a beautiful spot for a market! And how fun to find pink onions – obviously a rarity! So glad you got some warm spring weather to work out in the garden. Nothing better than being sore from working outside!

    • Anna B April 8, 2013 at 6:04 am #

      I’m very intrigued by the onions, I forgot to mention that apart from the smaller spring onions I’ve never successfully grown any from seed! I always use sets, so fingers crossed they work out! Thanks so much for your comment :)

  3. Cathy April 8, 2013 at 6:17 am #

    Still cold here, but the sun is trying to shine today at least! :D I sowed tomatoes last week, but fear it is still too cold even on the windowsill…. I look forward to hearing how those pink onions taste!

    • Anna B April 8, 2013 at 11:22 am #

      Hi Cathy, I hope you get some sunshine too! It’s still cold here, especially at night. I’m still not 100% convinced that the potatoes and onion sets will start growing very soon, but they’re there for when it finally warms up properly! I still have my tomatoes indoors too and sowing some more this week. Thanks so much for dropping by!

  4. Cathy Thompson April 8, 2013 at 7:07 am #

    Onion ‘Rosanna’ sounds wonderful. I shall look out for it and try it next year. Rosanna is probably sweet like red onions? I haven’t planted my potatoes or onions out yet (I’m in a cold part of France). Everything (including me) behind this year. I did sow onions at end of Jan, but they are still in pots making me feel guilty.
    Our markets are not so good for locally grown veg (seems to come from elsewhere, even outside of France). I think everyone around here grows so much of their own produce, perhaps. Although I did buy some lovely fresh wild asparagus last year. Same for cut flowers (which is sad if you haven’t grown any!) In Alsace/Basel, where we were before, the markets were fabulous (more city dwellers with no space to grow their own?). I used to particularly relish fresh eggs, spinach and asparagus.
    Your mission to grow your own and source locally produced food is inspiring! And let us know what the Rosanna taste like when you come to eat them?

    • Anna B April 8, 2013 at 11:28 am #

      Hi Cathy! I’m really looking forward to finding out more about your garden in France! I will be having a read of your blog later :) I feel a bit guilty about my onions too in all honesty! The first glimpse of sunlight and I’ve put them out! It’s almost like I’ve instructed them to grow despite the poor weather conditions!! I shall keep you posted on the Rosanna, they wont be leaving the greenhouse for a few weeks yet! Thanks so much for dropping by :)

  5. Christina April 8, 2013 at 7:12 am #

    Sounds a great weekend. We were invited to a delicious lunch and also to visit a ‘slow food’ market; I was able to buy some different flours without conservatives including discovering buckwheat which I’ve not found or known the Italian name before. I also found kamut with is an ancient form of wheat dilicious in flavour and low in glutten. My onions went in during February and hopefully the potoatoes today! Christina

    • Anna B April 8, 2013 at 11:30 am #

      Hi Christina! Wow! The ‘slow food’ market sounds great! I shall have to look for something like that over here. Hope you manage to get your potatoes in today. Thanks so much for your comment, really interesting stuff! :)

  6. Jo April 8, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    I didn’t know about this deli market, it looks great for a trip out, I shall have to look up when it’s next on. The onions sound intriguing.

    • Anna B April 8, 2013 at 11:33 am #

      Hi Jo! The next one is April 27th & 28th. The deli market is on the Saturday and the Sunday is more of a craft market. They seem to run on the last weekend of each month. I’ll send you an email, perhaps we could meet up there?! Thanks for dropping by :)

  7. home, garden, life April 8, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

    Good on you! Shopping local is the way to go. I am envious of your historic settings for your markets. To see my local market, type in the words~ farmers markets ~into my search bar. Bon Appetit!

    • Anna B April 8, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

      Hello Diane! I’ve just been oggling your photos of the farmers market! They’re amazing pictures and wow, your market looks amazing!!! I love it! Really love your blog :) Thanks so much for dropping by!

      • home, garden, life April 8, 2013 at 5:52 pm #

        Great! Did you visit all three market blogs? Loads of photos. 2013 Market began last Saturday and goes until December. Enjoy exploring your local markets and thanks for supporting your local growers and producers. Diane

        • Anna B April 8, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

          Hi Diane! I sure did! I love the photos. I love supporting the markets, it’s a far more enjoyable way to shop and long may they continue! I’m on a quest to change my shopping habits completely! thanks so much for your interest :)

  8. thesneakymagpie April 8, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

    Shallots went in last week, broadbeans, peas, beetroots and lots of salad things this weekend and today I finally was brave enough to get my potatoes in, I am so happy!

    • Anna B April 8, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

      That’s awesome! You’re well on your way, I’m going to be very busy these next few weeks :-) great hearing about what you’re upto! Thanks so much for sharing :)

  9. Allotment adventures with Jean April 8, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

    Dear Anna, I loved reading about the markets you are visiting in your local area. Good for the soul. Kirkstall Abbey is a fabulous backdrop for a market. No chance of anything as historical and beautiful as that over here in Australia. But we do have our own farmers’ markets, it’s getting more popular. There is a local woman Jan Power who has been a great promoter of this type of market. If you are interested in reading more about it here is the link
    Pink onions sounds interesting and I’m looking forward to reading more about yours in the future. I don’t try to grow onions up here as I think the sub-tropical climate is not the best for onions. I am told that most Australian onions are produced down in South Australia. It’s a great growing area down there.

    • Anna B April 8, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

      Hello Jean! That’s interesting about the onions. Your area is great for monster vegetables though hey! I’m loving the photos of your sweet potatoes :-) I’ll check out the link tomorrow, thanks so much for sharing!

  10. Ricki Grady April 9, 2013 at 12:22 am #

    You are surrounded by all of those wonderful ancient buildings and wall that we would die for out here in the American West. Good luck with your pink onions. They sound lovely.

    • Anna B April 9, 2013 at 10:25 am #

      Hi Ricki! It is a lovely setting, I must admit I think we are lucky here to have all the old buildings. Leeds only has a few, places like York and Edinburgh are really nice with their quaint streets! I’m very excited about the pink onions! I’ll keep you posted! Thanks so much for dropping by :)

  11. Anna April 9, 2013 at 9:17 pm #

    Rosanna sounds most interesting Anna. Whenever we have been to Brittany we come back with some delicious pink Roscoff onions but they never last long enough. Here I’ve sown some ‘Red Baron’ onions in cells and intend to pick them when they are quite small. This last weekend definitely saw an improvement in the weather and I was so pleased to have spent two afternoons at the lottie :)

    • Anna B April 10, 2013 at 8:41 pm #

      Hello Anna! The pink Roscoff sounds interesting! I like red onions when they’re on the small size too. Brilliant to finally have some decent time outside! Looks like this weekend will be good weather too! Fingers crossed :)

  12. Cathy April 10, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    All the comments you have had shows how much interest there is in these markets, Anna. What a satisfyingly busy weekend you had and no doubt you will be managing some evenings this week too as it is so much milder. I planted out some cold greenhouse grown salad leaves and rocket yesterday

    • Anna B April 10, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

      Hello Cathy! Yes and I was just talking to a colleague today who has told me about other farm shops in the area and that he never shops anywhere else anymore! I think it’s the future!! Isn’t it nice to actually make more planting progress now. I hope you have some more good weather too :)

  13. annie_h April 10, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

    Kirkstall Abbey is such a lovely spot, I went to an outdoor play there a couple of years ago and keep looking out for whether they will be doing one again. The market looks great, you have been good at looking out for these. I’m in two minds whether to plant my potatoes but may give it a few more days they really need to go in soon though. It was nice at the weekend but the wind has gone so cold again now!

    • Anna B April 10, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

      Hello Annie! Well to be honest everything I planted will just be sat in the cold waiting for some heat to start growing so I think if you wait it will be no different to the veggies that are just sat there waiting in the cold soil! Either way they will catch up when it warms up. I’ve heard that the cold weather is shifting and it will be nice over the weekend!! I hope so!! Thanks so much for dropping by :)

  14. wellywoman April 11, 2013 at 8:06 am #

    I’ve never heard of pink onions either. I’ll be interested to hear what they’re like. I know some people start off their shallots in little modules trays indoors and then plant them out once they’ve rooted and the ground is warmer. Maybe you could do this with your onions too. We’ve missed our farmers’ market the last few times because we’ve been away and I can’t wait to get to it again and stock up.

    • Anna B April 23, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

      Hello Wellywoman! I’ve seen people doing that with all types of onions, it’s a good idea. I managed to get mine out pretty quick though and they’re growing :) The pink onions are still ok, living in the greenhouse. I can’t wait to see what happens to them too. Thanks so much for dropping by :)

  15. Nadezda April 11, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

    Anna, I’ve potted my shallot onions and wait for warm days but we have not yet them.
    The onions grow well in a cool place, and sometimes I cut a bit and eat with salad!

    • Anna B April 23, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

      Hello Nadezda! I hope you’ve had some warmer weather now. Interesting about the onions! I hope they do well :)

  16. Janet/PlantalisciousJ April 12, 2013 at 9:33 am #

    I suspect the suddenly warmer weather will have a lot of us nursing aches and pains from the frenzy of gardening activity, I slept remarkable well last night thanks to a lot of barrowing of compost around! Pink onions sound really fun, and how wonderful to have discovered so many markets to shop at. So much more fun than supermarkets. No markets in walking distance for me, but I remain hopeful of getting back to driving, and we do have a local butcher again, which is wonderful.

    • Anna B April 23, 2013 at 9:33 pm #

      Hello Janet! I hope the warmer weather has remained good for you. We’re having some really sunny days, which is just wonderful. I just love local shops and ‘real food’ I’ve managed to avoid the supermarket for ages now. Adam on the other hand loves the supermarket and can’t resist all the 241 offers etc… on cereals and crisps and you name it! He has his cupboard stocked with all types of snacks that were so called bargains!! Thanks so much for your comment :)


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