Well cultivated land, 6 inches apart in rows 1 foot apart. Cut a v with a draw hoe, plant the sets with just the tips showing above the surface and then firm the soil by treading it on either side of the sets. Try and lay some protection over the sets as birds are attracted to the protruding tips and will pull the onions out.
You can plant onion sets even in winter. You want to plant them just deep enough to cover them in loose soil and if I planted them in winter I would mulch them with straw at least 6 inches deep. In the spring you can rake the straw or hay back and allow the onion sets to start growing.
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