Onion The Kelsae Seed
The Exhibition Variety!
The renowned and undisputed winner on the showbench, regularly achieving record weights. Also an excellent, flavoursome culinary onion. Note: This is supplied in original raiser packs.
Unfortunately due to a problem with the production of our seed for The Kelsae onion, we will not be able to supply seeds this season, we hope to make seed available again in spring 2017. In the meantime, we'd recommend trying Onion Exhibition, a newer variety bred in East Anglia from The Kelsea.
Our technical manager Tracy Collacott explains:
"Unfortunately, we currently have no seed available of onion The Kelsae. It is usually a difficult seed crop to produce; not only is it a shy-seeder, but also, as it is biennial, it does not always over-winter successfully. To make matters worse, our growers in Italy suffered a huge hailstorm while the plants were in flower, and the anticipated seed crop was completely lost.
Seed is a live product and while we have no control over the weather, we are doing everything we can to ensure we have the best stocks available by growing again in three different locations, maintaining the original stock seed, and re-selecting it on a regular basis to ensure the best quality bulbs.
We can only apologise to our customers, but we hope to have seed available again for spring 2017. We own the true mother-stock of The Kelsae, so I would warn gardeners to be wary of possible imitations being offered elsewhere before then. In the meantime, customers may like to grow our Ailsa Craig Prizewinner strain, which also produces large, heavy bulbs, or Exhibition, which was bred from The Kelsae".
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Onion The Kelsae Seed
Last Order Date:
January, February, December
The ultimate guide to growing The Kelsae Exhibition Onion
The number one exhibition onion!
First, prepare your onion bed with plenty of rotted organic matter, dug in during the winter. Also apply lime at this time if necessary. We recommend a soil PH reading of 6.75 – 7.25. Kelsae Onions prefer a heavier soil which retains moisture, so make sure that the lighter soils are kept well watered.
For the largest bulbs you should sow your seeds in late December to early January (although Christmas or Boxing Day are traditional days often chosen by exhibition growers). Otherwise, seeds can be sown through to February.
Evenly fill boxes or trays with seed compost and firm gently. You can thinly broadcast your seeds or precision sow them individually.
After sowing, sieve or sprinkle a 5mm (¼”) covering of seed compost over the seeds, then water in carefully and thoroughly so that the compost is fully moist.
Cover the box or tray with a propagator lid, sheet of paper, glass or polythene and put in a warm place. The ideal germination temperature is 15-20°C (60-68°F), but it should not be lower than 15°C (60°F). When the seed has germinated, remove the cover and put the box or tray in an area with plenty of light. Keep the compost damp enough to sustain the seedlings. Maintain a temperature of around 18°C (65°F) until ‘crook stage’. This is when the seedling is still looped over like a Shepherd’s crook, with the tip of the seed leaf still in the compost. (Usually 2-3 weeks after germination, just before the second leaf). After this, place them somewhere cooler, reducing the temperature to 10°–13°C (50-55°F) and gradually increase the ventilation if possible.
The seeds need maximum light and ventilation until the pricking out stage but be careful of scorching from direct sunlight. If possible transfer boxes and trays to a cold frame in March or April.
Prick out into 9cm (3½”) pots filled with seed and potting compost as the second true leaf develops. Do not prick out too early.
Maintain the temperature at 10–13°C (50- 55°F) by ventilating the greenhouse. Do not use heat to force the seedlings. Keep moist but do not over water at this critical stage. As the seedlings recover from being moved on, maintain the light levels.
Gradually reduce the temperature to 6-10°C (45-50°F) until you can move the seedlings out into frames during March/April. Take great care to protect against frost at all times and spray the seedlings regularly with a preventative fungicide from the second stage.
Make sure the onion bed has been well firmed. Top the dress growing area with 68g per square metre (around 2oz per sq yard) of fish, blood and bone mixture. We also recommend a final light application of lime before planting. Plant out into your onion bed in late April to early May, approximately 30cm (12”) apart.
Water each plant well before planting out; this ensures that the root ball will easily slide out of the pot
Dig each planting hole deep enough to allow the roots to spread easily. Bury the white of the plant approximately 13-20mm (½” - ¾”) deep, firming in well. Do not over firm and make sure the soil is moist but not too wet.
Apply a light dressing of high nitrogen fertiliser such as sulphate of ammonia two or three weeks after the planting out stage, at 17-26g per sq. metre (approx ½ - ¾ oz per sq. yard) and at two to three week intervals.
Never feed when the soil is dry. Water if there has been no rain for 48 hours. Supplementary feeds can be given as required. A light dressing of sulphate potash will help to harden and ripen the bulbs. This should be applied in mid-August and, if necessary, can be repeated in early September.
• Take precautions against frost in early stages of growth, cover with a cloche or fleece if necessary.
• Do not force the plants with too much heat.
• Water sparingly except after applying fertiliser after planting out.
• For best results, spray regularly with fungicide.
Dressing for Show:
1. Lift the bulbs two weeks before a show.
2. Prepare the bulbs by peeling down very carefully to one complete skin.
3. Keep the bulbs in a dry, airy atmosphere, where they will dry off and colour up evenly.
4. Just before the show, tie the necks very carefully without breaking the skin.
What the Judges are looking for
In assessing the merits of vegetables exhibits, the following features are usually considered:
Condition - Cleanliness, freshness, tenderness and presence or absence of coarseness and blemishes.
Uniformity - The state of being alike in size, shape, condition and colour.
Size - This is meritorious if accompanied by quality (but only in those circumstances) as the production of large specimens of good quality requires more skill than that of the production of small specimens. The size of the vegetable most suitable for table use varies with the consumer
Colour - This should reflect freshness, trueness to cultivar and maturity.
Merits - Large firm, well-ripened bulbs with thin necks and unbroken skins, free from any damage or disease. Sound and intact root plates.
Defects - Bulbs that are small, misshapen, lopsided or blemished, or that have soft or thick necks, or indicate moisture present under the skin, or have broken outer skins or have unsound root plates.
Advice for Judges:
All specimens must be weighed and any which are 250g or under must be disqualified. Look for large, uniform, well ripened bulbs, of good shape, free from blemish, with roots trimmed and necks tied neatly with uncoloured raffia. At early summer shows, bulbs may be shown with tops trimmed, bulbs either dressed or as grown with roots washed.
Condition 6 Points
Size 5 Points
Uniformity 4 Points
Shape 3 Points
Colour 2 Points
TOTAL 20 Points
As the bulbs mature towards the end of the growing season, bend the neck of each onion horizontally. This will check further foliage growth, help in ripening and direct any late growth to the bulbs. Never force the neck, as this may severely check the bulb’s growth and induce fungal infection.
As the bulbs ripen, gently remove any loose or damaged skin, but never remove more than one layer at a time. Once mature, the bulbs may be carefully lifted as required.
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