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Heirloom Vegetables: Saving Onion Seed

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Forum: Heirloom VegetablesReplies: 12, Views: 125
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Jayryunen
Sapello, NM
(Zone 5b)

December 9, 2008
9:49 PM

Post #5875614

Has anyone here saved onion seed? I've got a couple of OP strains, and several from one in the garden now. It's mulched and covered, but this idea was sort of seat of the pants and now I'd like to know how to REALLY do it. LOL

The onions still had thick necks at the end of the season, so I'm not hopeful. Next year I'd like to do better.
Jay
cyndiehook
Central, ME
(Zone 5a)

December 30, 2008
10:57 PM

Post #5944955

Sorry you never got an answer, Jay. We all save lots of seeds, but I think that one is not so common.
Here's a website with basic instructions on saving vegetable seeds.

http://www.seedsave.org/issi/issi_904.html
Jayryunen
Sapello, NM
(Zone 5b)

December 30, 2008
11:12 PM

Post #5945002

Thanks. =0)

I haven't been able to find anything about when to start and set out the plants that one is intending to overwinter. That's what I'd really like to know.

Jay
cyndiehook
Central, ME
(Zone 5a)

December 30, 2008
11:31 PM

Post #5945074

Well, I am basically the same zone as you. Based upon that, I would guess that you may have to bring in the sets and then put them out? But, that being said, I have missed some onions in my garden and they did return in spring...

I have had some of the perennial onions, like Egyptians and I just leave them be.
They come up, bloom, and set.

I would think if you are planning to leave onions in, you would just plant them the same time as any other onion and never pull them at the end of the season. I would mulch them for protection.
If this is a rare heirloom, it may be what you will have to do to sustain your seed supply. If not, maybe it is simpler to just buy the seeds annually?
I don't know how many seeds you can retain from a seedhead, so maybe it is only a matter of overwintering a few plants.
Maybe someone with more onion experience will chime in here. ;)
Jayryunen
Sapello, NM
(Zone 5b)

December 30, 2008
11:37 PM

Post #5945094

Most onion sets, commercially available, are from hybrid onions. It's getting harder and harder to find OP onions.

That's my dilemma...
I'm trying Utah and another one (they're put away right now...).
=0)
Farmerdill
Augusta, GA
(Zone 8a)


December 30, 2008
11:37 PM

Post #5945096

If your winters are truly 5 b, I don't think you would want to overwinter. Years ago in zone 7. we would harvest onions in late summer, store them, and then reset some of them in the spring when they would promptly go to seed.

Actually a large percentage of sets ( the small dry bulbs) as opposed to plants are OP. If you can find the cultivar name, look it up in Plantfiles and you may be surprised that it is an OP. Virtually all plants, however are hybrids. Sets are notorius for bolting, so you can probably get plenty of seeds without any more effort than just just letting the seedheads go until they dry.

This message was edited Dec 30, 2008 6:44 PM
Jayryunen
Sapello, NM
(Zone 5b)

December 31, 2008
12:19 AM

Post #5945283

So you're suggesting I should root cellar them rather than bury them in straw?
I've wondered about that...
paracelsus
Elmira, NY
(Zone 6a)

December 31, 2008
12:35 AM

Post #5945340

Yes, you should choose the biggest, cut off the tops about a hand's width from the bulb, and store them 35-40F. Then replant in spring 12" apart and they should bolt like farmerdill says.
Jayryunen
Sapello, NM
(Zone 5b)

December 31, 2008
1:24 AM

Post #5945582

Do you knock your chosen onions down like you do the ones you're going to eat or just let them go til frost?
paracelsus
Elmira, NY
(Zone 6a)

December 31, 2008
12:20 PM

Post #5946837

I don't push them over; I let them fall over by themselves, because I've read it makes them store longer. When they come up easily, then pull them and let them rest on the ground, etc.
Jayryunen
Sapello, NM
(Zone 5b)

March 5, 2009
7:09 PM

Post #6225529

I've pulled the plastic and straw mulch off my bed today, and-- wonder of wonders--some of the onions have made it through! I've got about 7 that are putting up fresh shoots. I think I did everything wrong--didn't dry them off for two weeks, and scratched in compost just before mulching--and some still made it. =0) Of course, the others are gross, rotting, slimey disgusting things, but hey... It was a warm winter, so that was a help; we never got below 5* as far as I know. Next winter I am definitely going to build a mulch cage, and harden off a bit better.

So it looks like I just might be able to get some seed from these guys this year.
=0) Jay

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MichaelZ
Portland, OR
(Zone 8a)

March 5, 2009
10:17 PM

Post #6226303

Just as a note: Seed Savers Exchange has 5 varieties of OP onion seeds this year.

http://www.seedsavers.org/Items.aspx?hierId=36

That link is directly to the onions. I find their web site a little difficult to navigate and a tad slow, but they do great work, IMHO.
Jayryunen
Sapello, NM
(Zone 5b)

March 5, 2009
11:37 PM

Post #6226663

Tad slow doesn't even begin to cover it, especially on dial-up. After 5 min. I gave up. I'll have to check the site when I go to the library. =0)
Anyways, thanks for the link!

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