Thursday, February 26, 2009
A Permanent Supply of Onions
I buy onion sets every year and plant them in my garden. I don't save onion seed because it's kind of a pain. Maybe after I build my green house I will try saving onion seeds and starting my on sets, but for right now I just buy the sets and put them out. This usually gives me a good crop of onions to harvest, and then my wife braids them into long strands which we hang from the ceiling beams in the living room. Yes, in the living room; we are definitely country folk. Anyway, they look kind of nice, and throughout the winter when we need an onion we just cut one off of the braid. It used to worry me though that our supply of onions might be interrupted if sets are no longer available. That is, it worried me until my sister in Arkansas gave me a start of multiplying onions. These are also known as walking onions or Egyptian onions, and they will actually propagate themselves and spread on their own. The way it works is, instead of going to seed, these onions produce small onion bulbs at the top of their green shoots. You can break these bulbs off, separate them and plant them just like onion sets. If you don't break them off, the weight of the bulbs will eventually bend the onion shoot down to the ground where the bulbs will then take root on their own. If you let the onions propagate on their own, however, they will grow very densely and it will inhibit good growth. Also once the onions have been allowed to form new bulbs, the old onion is past its best flavor. I pick some of the onions to eat, and let some of them produce new bulbs. I then harvest the bulbs and re-plant them like onion sets. If you use this method, you can move the onions to a different part of your garden each year. Multiplying onions do not produce a large bulb. They are more like a scallion, but they are perfectly edible, and the green shoots can be used like chives. If you don't know someone that can give you a start of multiplying onions, look on the internet. There are several places that sell them. Once you get a bed of multiplying onions started you will have onions from now on. This site offers walking onions for sale http://www.asparagusgardener.com/index.html. I have never ordered from them so I can't vouch for this outfit, but they might be worth checking out.