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Spalding pub co-owner knows his onions

The co-owner of a Spalding micropub and his friends could be about to start to start a new craze of competitive onion growing in the area.

Charlie Rawlings, who along with Nathan Marshall opened The Priors Oven seven years ago, hosted an onion growing contest over the August bank holiday weekend.

A handful of regulars from the micropub, based in Sheep Market, met at Charlie's farm in Weston Hills on Sunday where their onion growing efforts were put to the test on the scales.

Charlie Rawlings with his onion weighing 931 grams.Photo supplied. (41728813)
Charlie Rawlings with his onion weighing 931 grams.Photo supplied. (41728813)

Charlie emerged as the winner with an onion weighing 931 grams (just over 2lbs), some distance away from the world's largest onion which weighed in at 8.5kgs (18lb 11.84oz).

"My daughter's boyfriend, who is one of our regulars at the pub, was having a chat with his friends while drinking beer and eating some pickled onions," Charlie said.

"They talked about how nice an idea it would be to grow some gigantic onions and so I thought of starting a competition for anyone who wanted to join in.

"It was a very informal event where we had the weigh-in, as well as a barbecue and beer with some of my friends.

"There were about five or six people who said they would grow onions for the competition, but one of them had to drop out when he found out that his onion had been cooked for a meal by accident a week before we met."

The world record for the biggest onion ever grown is currently held by Leicestershire's Tony Glover whose colossal vegetable was measured at 32 inches around its widest part, large enough to make 250 onion bhajis.

It beat the previous best of8.195kgs (18lb 1oz) grown by Peter Glazebrook, of Nottinghamshire, and weighed at the Harrogate Flower Show in 2012.

Charlie said: "They've been holding onion growing competitions at village shows for hundreds of years as a bit of fun, bringing lots of entertainment to people.

"The competition was something I'd chatted about with customers at The Priors Oven quite a lot over the year to see how big an onion could be grown.

"I also thought that, because of lockdown, people have found more time to do a lot of gardening this year.

"I've always grown vegetables, including onions, myself and I was quite proud to have the biggest one of the competition, considering it was the first year I've done it."

According to the British Onion Producers’ Association, which represents more than 80 per cent of the nation's growers, 450,000 tonnes of the eye-watering vegetable are grown each year.

Charlie said: "I've found that the key to growing large onions is to plant them early in the spring (March or April) so they can finish growing when the days start to get shorter."

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