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Friday Rookie Topic XIV: Potato Onions

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Post  middlemamma on 7/19/2011, 3:49 am

Sorry Y’all, this was supposed to be LAST Friday’s (July 14th) Rookie Topic and I dropped the ball.

POTATO ONIONS

I had never heard of a Potato Onion before I joined this forum. Ander217 (she doesn’t post here anymore, and I miss her very much) introduced me and the rest of the forum to them. They are a type of multiplier onion that is planted in the fall and overwintered, in even the coldest climates like I have here in Idaho.

The thing that really intrigued me about these was that done correctly I should never have to buy onion starts or seeds or sets ever again. They divide when planted, so from each onion set I stuck in the ground I will get a clump of onions, I will dry them out and then separate them and in the fall I will plant the smallest of my harvest and the cycle will begin again, no more purchase necessary...ever.


The only place I have found them available for sale is Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.
http://www.southernexposure.com/yellow-potato-onion-hill-mother-or-pregnant-onion-8-oz-p-873.html?zenid=u52r1bn6928rvm1spi3nvejm66

I purchased 2 sets of these last fall and planted them in one of my SFG’s alternated with Garlic. I have 11 squares with 4-5 plants each square. I have not harvested yet, as they are still very green on top.

From what I can see from above they are growing very well and I have many good sized onions as well as many small ones.


They keep well so the ones you do not plant in fall should last you all winter, they are a mild yellow onion from what I understand.

Potato Onion Characteristics
(taken from
http://www.veggiegardeningtips.com/potato-onions/)


In appearance and growth habits potato onions resemble shallots and other multiplier onions such as Egyptian Walking Onions. Their advantages and unique characteristics include the following:

Potato Onions are easy to grow and are best when planted during the fall season. They will over winter right in the garden and send up early spring growth as soon as the weather begins to warm.

These multipliers are very productive and also resistant to insect pests. Rather than produce a single onion, potato onions produce bulbs in clusters of three to five onions which are connected at their base just like shallots.

Each cluster of onions will contain an assortment of sizes, all of which can be eaten or replanted into the garden.

Potato Onions are versatile; you can harvest leaf growth in early spring to use as “spring greens.” While the mature bulbs keep extremely well and can be stored in the home through the winter months until they are needed for cooking.

The bulbs themselves are much larger than shallots and are easy to peel and prepare for kitchen use. Potato Onions have a mild, sweet taste that I prefer over regular onions, and will impart more of a distinctly gourmet flavor to your favorite recipes when used in place of onions.

Once you plant Potato Onions in your garden you’ll have an everlasting and continuous supply. It couldn’t be any easier to save your own seed to use when replanting. All you do is set aside a mix of the best bulbs that you harvest to replant in the fall.

Here is the link on the forum where Potato Onions were discussed, it is very informative and Ander, who is an expert, explains quite a lot about them.
https://squarefoot.forumotion.com/t3900-sese-has-large-potato-onions-for-sale

Here are a couple pics from the garden:These were taken a month or so ago, I will update this thread with photos tomorrow and again when I harvest.
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Last edited by middlemamma on 7/19/2011, 6:12 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post  Mamachibi on 7/19/2011, 12:37 pm

How exciting! Something I can grow in my patio boxes over the winter! I'll bet I can find a spot in my SFG for them next fall too! Thanks so much!!
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Post  madnicmom on 7/19/2011, 2:32 pm

Great info! Thank you!
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Post  westie42 on 7/19/2011, 4:45 pm

Nice article as usual mite I say. I have had the Egyptian travelers for a long time but really never use them much. Would they make a fairly equal replacement for the potato onions. Is the fact Egyptian onions do their bunching up the stalk a foot or so going to make much difference in usage.
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Post  middlemamma on 7/19/2011, 6:14 pm

@westie42 wrote:Nice article as usual mite I say. I have had the Egyptian travelers for a long time but really never use them much. Would they make a fairly equal replacement for the potato onions. Is the fact Egyptian onions do their bunching up the stalk a foot or so going to make much difference in usage.

The Egyptian Walking Onions are much much much smaller (at least the ones I have seen), my potato onions that are still growing are more in line with a yellow onion you might buy in the store. As far as flavor I am unsure..I haven't actually EATEN either...lol,
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Post  newstart on 1/3/2012, 10:33 pm

looks like a great onion may try in fall Smile
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Post  jpatti on 1/20/2012, 5:47 pm

Territorial also sells them in a 5 lb bag. Very pricey, but... given that they yield 3-8 times what you plant, the 8 oz bag from Southern Exposure is going to yield approximately 2-4 lbs of onions.

Dunno about anyone here, but... mine is a household of two and we eat about 20-25 lbs of onions a year.

To grow out the 8 oz bag and have enough to replant the next year, I figure it would take 3 years of just replanting to get a useful harvest.

The 5 lb bag from Territorial would get me a usable harvest the first year. But it's expensive and I'd have to grow them for 2-3 years before they paid for themselves over just buying onions.

Unless you own your own land and put in a permanent onion bed you'll use for years, I think this is more a crop for fun and novelty than for a practical crop.
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Post  miinva on 1/21/2012, 12:55 pm

Middlemamma, did you harvest these? I'm curious how they worked out for you. We own our land and have lots of it, so putting in a bed for walking onions is quite feasible.
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Post  Grandpop on 3/22/2012, 4:25 pm

@jpatti wrote:Territorial also sells them in a 5 lb bag. Very pricey, but... given that they yield 3-8 times what you plant, the 8 oz bag from Southern Exposure is going to yield approximately 2-4 lbs of onions.

Dunno about anyone here, but... mine is a household of two and we eat about 20-25 lbs of onions a year.

To grow out the 8 oz bag and have enough to replant the next year, I figure it would take 3 years of just replanting to get a useful harvest.

The 5 lb bag from Territorial would get me a usable harvest the first year. But it's expensive and I'd have to grow them for 2-3 years before they paid for themselves over just buying onions.

Unless you own your own land and put in a permanent onion bed you'll use for years, I think this is more a crop for fun and novelty than for a practical crop.

Seems like it's six of one or half dozen of the other. Either plant an expensive starter and pay for them in three years or a cheaper one and have a full harvest in three years. Either way, I'm glad I ran across this post because it sounds really interested and I'll plant some this fall. BTW, I happen to fall in the 2 per household, but we don't eat 25 pounds a year so guess I'll opt for the cheaper. (Or maybe I'm just tight Laughing )
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Post  cheyannarach on 5/12/2012, 1:50 pm

I must get my hands on some of these to grow along with my garlic in the fall! Very Happy
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Post  camprn on 5/12/2012, 2:18 pm

@cheyannarach wrote:I must get my hands on some of these to grow along with my garlic in the fall! Very Happy
Shallots are also multiplier and you can grow them at this time of year. Very Happy

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Post  CindiLou on 5/12/2012, 2:21 pm

I am just waiting for my first harvest!

Friday Rookie Topic XIV: Potato Onions Dscn0212
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Post  cheyannarach on 5/12/2012, 2:26 pm

@camprn wrote:
@cheyannarach wrote:I must get my hands on some of these to grow along with my garlic in the fall! Very Happy
Shallots are also multiplier and you can grow them at this time of year. Very Happy

I have been reading the shallots rookie topic and am going to town today to get some! Thanks Camprn.

Cindy Lou, I am just jealous... Thanks for the picture!!
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Post  JustMe on 5/12/2012, 11:22 pm

CindiLou - thanks for the pic. This gives me hope that they will grow in zone 5a.

This, shallots, and garlic will go on my fall planting grid. I've been wanting to grow garlic for the last few years now.
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Post  CindiLou on 5/12/2012, 11:33 pm

@JustMe wrote:
This, shallots, and garlic will go on my fall planting grid. I've been wanting to grow garlic for the last few years now.

Just remember..if you plant..they will grow Friday Rookie Topic XIV: Potato Onions 889526
I planted 120 bulbs of garlic...they all grew Friday Rookie Topic XIV: Potato Onions 926169
Now I have garlic for me..my daughter..my sister..to plant again.... Friday Rookie Topic XIV: Potato Onions 63597
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Post  CindiLou on 6/1/2012, 9:00 pm

My first potato onions were planted last fall. We have had a weird year so I am not sure of any of this Friday Rookie Topic XIV: Potato Onions 889526

Are they supposed to lay down? I have bigger ones that aren't. I guess I expected the tops to get browner before they laid down....

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Post  camprn on 6/1/2012, 9:13 pm

My shallots, which are also bunching, do the same thing as the individual bulbs grow, they move to a more horizontal orientation. Looks like they have a little more to go. Here are my shallots (last year) nearing harvest .
Friday Rookie Topic XIV: Potato Onions 00716

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Post  greatgranny on 9/12/2012, 1:35 pm

Quick questions. I live in zone 4. Just received my potato onions and hardneck garlic from Southern Exposure yesterday. I want to plant all of them now. Is it too early for this region?

Also in the instructions it mentions different depths for northern regions and adding mulch. How deep and how much mulch - I plan on using leaves and/or straw?
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Post  camprn on 9/12/2012, 5:22 pm

@greatgranny wrote:Quick questions. I live in zone 4. Just received my potato onions and hardneck garlic from Southern Exposure yesterday. I want to plant all of them now. Is it too early for this region?

Also in the instructions it mentions different depths for northern regions and adding mulch. How deep and how much mulch - I plan on using leaves and/or straw?
hmmmm. some very good questions. Where did you order them from?

I found some good info from other gardeners and seed places.
http://chiotsrun.com/2010/07/07/harvesting-potato-onions/

http://forums.seedsavers.org/showthread.php?t=2470

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jnqst7-9YfWFovhqjARtcZZVJC0TPzKsow_5mdAwnyA/edit?hl=en_US&pli=1



Last edited by camprn on 9/12/2012, 6:55 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : added links)

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Post  greatgranny on 9/12/2012, 10:30 pm

@camprn wrote:
@greatgranny wrote:Quick questions. I live in zone 4. Just received my potato onions and hardneck garlic from Southern Exposure yesterday. I want to plant all of them now. Is it too early for this region?

Also in the instructions it mentions different depths for northern regions and adding mulch. How deep and how much mulch - I plan on using leaves and/or straw?
hmmmm. some very good questions. Where did you order them from?

I found some good info from other gardeners and seed places.
http://chiotsrun.com/2010/07/07/harvesting-potato-onions/

http://forums.seedsavers.org/showthread.php?t=2470

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jnqst7-9YfWFovhqjARtcZZVJC0TPzKsow_5mdAwnyA/edit?hl=en_US&pli=1


I got them from Southern Exposure. Thanks for the links. I will check them out.
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Post  camprn on 9/13/2012, 6:42 am

After reading a a bit more about them, I would be inclined to plant in the very early spring vs. Autumnal planting. At least here in my northern clime. Very Happy I plant my garlic at the end of October, so I would wait for a few more weeks if I was in Zone 4. Is the rest of your garden done?

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Post  greatgranny on 9/13/2012, 12:03 pm

@camprn wrote:After reading a a bit more about them, I would be inclined to plant in the very early spring vs. Autumnal planting. At least here in my northern clime. Very Happy I plant my garlic at the end of October, so I would wait for a few more weeks if I was in Zone 4. Is the rest of your garden done?

No, I still have potatoes (almost ready), snow peas, tomatoes, parsnips, parsley, peppers, eggplant.

Right now I'm planning the spring gardens for the rotation thing and also the companion thing. I noticed that onions and garlic don't help some plants so I'm going on that assumption and avoiding the squares close to where the new plantings will be for spring.

I was thinking that I could plant within the next week and then when the cold weather comes I can mulch them and the strawberries for protection from the thawing/freezing issue.

I guess I have to try and hope for the best. I am going to save a few for an early spring planting just in case.

Thanks for the help.
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Post  greatgranny on 9/26/2012, 7:36 pm

Okay, planted the potato onions and garlic today. Wonder if I should soak the squares or should I just leave them. There was some moisture in the squares but the surface is not wet. What do you think?
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Post  camprn on 9/26/2012, 8:12 pm

@greatgranny wrote:Okay, planted the potato onions and garlic today. Wonder if I should soak the squares or should I just leave them. There was some moisture in the squares but the surface is not wet. What do you think?
Did they come with planting instructions? I would give them a wee drink.

Granny, where did you get your potato onions from?

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Post  CindiLou on 9/26/2012, 8:19 pm

Got half my onion/garlic bed ready..it was really dry..I had covered it with weed cloth so the cats wouldn't use it as a potty..didn't water for a couple of months..so I am dehydrating, then will add bunny poo.
I plan on planting in a couple of weeks. Last year was a funny year that lasted a long time. But not gonna trust the weather this year.
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