A few tips for planting onion sets & garlic…

If you’ve received your onion & shallot sets, or your garlic bulb ready to plant, be sure to pick your site carefully. This time of year can be very wet, and these little guys don’t like to stay soggy!

If you’re not ready to plant yet:

Don’t worry if the ground is covered in snow, or rock solid from cold frosts. You still have several weeks to plant out. For the time being you can keep onion/shallot sets and garlic bulbs   in a cool, dry/airy place until the soil is easier to work with (take them out of the paper bags that they arrive in as they need air to circulate around them). Ideally you need to get them in the ground by mid/late March.

Choose the right site:

All these plants are part of the allium family, and will all benefit from:

  • Lots of sunlight/warmth – they won’t do well in cool, shady areas
  • Well-draining soil – these plants will not do well in soil that stays soggy.
  • Fertile soil – add plenty of compost before you plant them


  • Plant them 10cm apart in pots/containers or traditional/raised beds
  • Push each onion/shallot set into the soil so that the tip is just at the surface. Make sure the pointy end is pointing up, and the hairy/rooty end is pointing down! Firm in quite well.
  • Separate your garlic bulbs into cloves. The bigger, fatter cloves grow better, so if you are short on space, prioritise those. Push each clove (pointy end pointing up) into the ground to twice their depth. e.g., if the garlic clove is 2.5cm, you push it down to 5cm deep. Leave the soil a little looser for garlic.