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Post  littlesapphire on 4/18/2010, 4:20 pm

I just saw that someone had asked a similar question about onion, but I wanted to post mine as a separate question because mine's a little different!

My friend (who's in her 40s) said that her grandfather brought some onions over to the USA with him from Russia, and from those first onions, generations of onions have been planted. She gave me some of them last summer, and I just plopped them in the ground and basically forgot about them.

Well, they grew really well! They got about four feet high, and then got what looked like little baby onions on the end of them:

Heirloom onions Onion


I didn't do anything with the babies, or the onions at all last year. I had no idea what to do with them, or how to harvest them or anything. Well, today I went out to look at them, and the onions I planted last year are starting to come back up again, and after some searching, I found the baby onions laying on the ground. I picked them up and put them in a baggie.

Now my question is, how do I plant these guys this year? Should I dig up the onions from last year and replant them (into my SFG that I'm starting this year), or should I plant the babies? I asked my friend how to plant them for harvesting, and she said to plant them really deep in the ground, and when the sprout starts coming through the ground, that they're ready for harvesting. I have no idea!

Can anyone help me out?
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Post  ander217 on 4/28/2010, 9:52 am

It appears you have a type of what I call Winter Onions, also known as Egyptian Tree Onions or Walking Onions. They are a form of multiplier onions which also include the large potato onions, and some include shallots in the category.

I grow winter onions in my garden in a permanent bed next to the fence. The large plants come up in spring, and the tiny bulbs you see at the end of the seed stalk are new onions which will eventually grow into sets for planting. If you allow the tiny bulbs to grow until they fall naturally, and then pull them apart you can plant them individually and each one will grow into a large green onion that will put up its own seed stalk. (Eat the onions before they go to seed.) But you don't have to plant them yourself. If you just let them grow and fall to the ground, many of them will root where they fall and your bed will soon be thick with small green onions. I only plant them when I want to start a new bed in another location, otherwise I let nature take its course.

You can pull the green onions as you need them, always keeping a few to produce new bulbs for next year. You can also pick up the seed clusters when they drop and peel them to use as little pearl onions if you have the patience to peel them.

These onions can be purchased from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.
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Post  ander217 on 4/28/2010, 10:07 am

I just double-checked on Southern Exposure's website and they aren't offering Egyptian Walking Onions at this time. I found another source online:

www.egyptianwalkingonion.com

I've never ordered from them so I can't vouch for them, but they have some pretty and unusual photos of the onions on their website.
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Post  littlesapphire on 4/29/2010, 8:40 am

Thanks for your input! That really helps me out. I'll try planting the little babies this spring and see how they do.
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Post  Retired Member 1 on 4/30/2010, 12:45 pm

See my entry in the spring contest -- they are Egyptian walking onions. Some put on babies that then make more babies while still on the stem. Others just make the bulbets like the ones in the pic you posted. They are called "walking" because if left to their own devices, the topset will bend to the ground, root, and "walk" across the garden (as mine have done). You can propagate by two methods: planting the top sets or digging and dividing the onions roots. In the picture you show, those are ready to be pulled off and planted. They also make a good shallot substitute in recipes.

Some Egyptian onions will make a small bulb, others (like mine) stay like scallions, but on steroids. Some of my roots are 2" across when I pull them, but not bulbed out.

I plant the bulbets about 2" deep so have never tried planting deep as your friend suggests. They can be used at any stage in their development.

You have a treasure -- guard them well.
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Post  junequilt on 4/30/2010, 1:03 pm

I've often thought about ordering them but just never got around to it. Anyone in the Southeast grow these?
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Post  Ole Joe Clark on 4/30/2010, 1:09 pm

Yep, I do, here in Alabama, had them for years.


Leon
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Post  junequilt on 5/13/2010, 4:13 pm

Joe, thanks for the vote of confidence about growing walking onions in the Southeast! I ordered some on eBay. They arrived yesterday and I installed them in their new home before going to work this morning.

What's your favorite way to use them?
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Post  Ole Joe Clark on 5/13/2010, 5:55 pm

I like to eat them raw as "green onions" when they are small, just trimming the roots and any green shoots that seem tough. They are rather mild in taste, which is good for me. The ones I have in the SFG box are growing like crazy and have large white blossoms.
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Post  Retired Member 1 on 5/13/2010, 6:18 pm

They are rather mild in taste, which is good for me.

Boy, not mine -- they are "pungent" -- ie hot. But work great in stir frys or any place I want an oniony flavoured onion. Since I have so many they have just about replaced most of my bulb onion useage. Of course, when the Y1015s are ready I'll eat them raw. But I love, love, love my Egyptian walking onions.
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Post  martha on 5/13/2010, 9:37 pm

Dave's Garden Watchdog is a great place to check out the percentage of customer satisfaction for mail order places.
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