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Potagere

March 16, 2009
7:19 PM

Post #6276310

Although I enjoyed reading the article, I must add that it was less informative than "inspirational".

I plant "beaucoup" onions every year, both from sets and from seeds (seedlings, not covered in your article, are another excellent choice in America, but here we only get seedlings for leeks).

Contrary to what you write, most European writers (and even my old 2 vol. Rodale's "Organic Gardening" Guide) say to use the smallest sets and discard the big ones, setting no limit on "smallest").

In my experience, the Japanese bunching varieties cannot be beat for true "scallions" and, unless you live near where Asian market gardeners sell seedlings, you have to plant them as seeds. Wintersowing works great with these!! (Something else you do not mention.)

Just to be clear : I am American; my early experiences & my father's garden were in WA State; my Rodale books are his; and I have gardened from WA State to Thailand to Tajikistan to Switzerland & France, so my experience is not restricted to one micro-climate. On the other hand, there are some things (like radishes) that even Beijing schoolchildren can grow and I cannot, so . . .

If there are true perennial options, it would be most useful if you specified the varieties/cultivars. We did rely on Egyptian "multiplier" onions to provide early Spring scallions in the garden when I was a kid; but no one would pretend that they are "true scallions" or even a reliable replacement.

I think we need more . . .

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

March 17, 2009
3:29 PM

Post #6280288

Bonjour, Potagere,
I appreciate you adding your information for the readers here, as it sounds like you grow many more onions in a year than I have lifetime to date.
To summarize: (hope I have this right)
Experienced grower says:
=Smallest sets are the best.
="Japanese bunching" varieties are the best for scallions., and possibly available as transplants, recommended you seek Asian market growers.
=Wintersowing works well for seeds of Japanese bunching onions.


I won't bore you with justifying my statement; your experience is the final test (just checked and found that one of my books agrees with you about small sets, while two disgaree) or the focus of my article (I wrote to appeal to the casual , less-experienced gardener, which clearly you aren't)

Southern Exposure sells seed for "Evergreen Hardy", "White Spear" and "Deep Purple" and says they are perennial up to zone 4 or 5. I haven't grown them.
http://www.southernexposure.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=CTGY&Category_Code=BONION


Cornell University has an extensive listing of 'bunching' varieties with brief descriptions, and some descriptions say they over winter.
http://vegvariety.cce.cornell.edu/mainSearch/showAllSorted.php?ID=36&sortBy=overallrating&order=DESC&sub1=74&refineSearch=Refine Search
("Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners")

My assumption writing the article was that onion plants are not that widely sold here either (which was why I didn't discuss that option) ; I tried to check that out today.
Garden Harvest Supply sells a variety ( a dozen) of onion plants here
http://www.gardenharvestsupply.com/category/buy-onion-garden-plants?gclid=CNqJqsCaqpkCFQFvGgod6A11qQ
for about $7 plus shipping for 50 to 60 plants, but none that I recognize as recommended for scallions. Of course you can pull them early and may be happy with the results. (Gurney had only two onion plants to choose from, neither a scallion type and both for twice the price of GardenHarvestSupply.) So, yes you can mail order onion plants and use them for scallions.

I'm not surprised to hear that wintersowing works well. Of the seeds I have planted indoors this spring, my Tokyo Long White are a smashing success. Just not fast enough to have included a picture in the article.

Oops, it looks like I did try to justify myself up there. I hope you can forgive my weakness. Thanks for the challenge. I hope this added information is useful to other readers, maybe even you regarding the perennial types at Southern Seed.
Sally

P. S. I can't grow radishes either. What's up with them?



This message was edited Mar 17, 2009 12:29 PM
Potagere

March 18, 2009
4:39 PM

Post #6285281

Excellent, Sally!

Even for the casual gardener (maybe even especially for them), the naming of names is, I think, a good idea, because if you don't know much about onions, you might buy sets of Walla Walla Sweets and plant them for scalions!

I remember that my father always got onion plants somewhere, but they were not real scallions, either! We can often get them at the various markets around here about this time of year.

The Tokyo Long Whites are just wonderful!!! You can WS them for an early start, and then actually throw a short row into odd places in the garden throughout the season and get scallions all year. Slow growing, in my experience, but really just about the perfect scallion!

The link to SESE is great! Unfortunately, they won't ship to me in France, but I can have a look around to see if I can find the ones they name somewhere else. Maybe Evergreen Seeds will have them, and they ship here (excellent seed source, by the way).

I think only children can grow radishes. Just like they are the only ones who can open child-proof bottles! I'm thinking of starting a thread entitled "Vegetables (and Flowers) Anyone Can Grow --- Except Me!
gunnersmom
East Palestine, OH

April 6, 2009
6:17 PM

Post #6373004

Ruh RO. I just took receipt of 120 Walla Walla Sweets. You had to purchase two from Garden Harvest. I don't have enough room for 120 onions, so I decided to plant them all and have some scallions! Am I in trouble?

Did you ever think that one stupid person would read this and respond to you?


Click the image for an enlarged view.

Potagere

April 6, 2009
6:55 PM

Post #6373204

You are surely in some sort of big trouble!
Planting Walla Walla Sweets as scallions!?!?
I'm sure that is a direct violation of some part of the Gardener's Oath!

I hope you planted at least some of them far enough apart that you will get some real WWs!! It would be a real shame to have so many seedlings and no full-size Sweets!
gunnersmom
East Palestine, OH

April 8, 2009
1:05 PM

Post #6381532

Oh, you misunderstand me. I fully intend to get plenty of the big ones. I haven't planted them yet, but I didn't want to waste one onion, so I decided to plant them all, then thin them out and use those thinnings as scallions.

Will that work, or is it against the onion laws? I"ve never grown an onion in my life.
Potagere

April 8, 2009
4:28 PM

Post #6382298

I'm not sure that's against the onion laws, but, at least in my experience, Walla Wallas don't do well if they are crowded; i.e. they never really get big. I'd say, take about 1.4 of the space you are planning to use, and plant the seedlings at standard distances; then go ahead and crowd and thin the rest of them. That way, if the crowding inhibits growth, you'll still get some big ones from the uncrowded bit; and, if it doesn't affect anything, you still get scallions and big onions. I know that "hedge fund managers" are the bad guys of the hour, but I still believe in hedging my bets!

Onions are one of the most enjoyable vegetables to grow, in my opinion, although there can be years when the crop doesn't yield anything BUT scallions or sallad onions. Just one of those things.
gunnersmom
East Palestine, OH

April 9, 2009
12:45 AM

Post #6384279

thanks, that's what I'll do, then. Happy gardening!

This message was edited Apr 8, 2009 7:46 PM
Potagere

April 9, 2009
1:26 PM

Post #6385993

We'll want to know how you fare at the end of the season!

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

April 9, 2009
5:53 PM

Post #6387317

I'm picturing a basketball score
Scallions 74, Walla Wallas 46
Potagere

April 9, 2009
6:26 PM

Post #6387475

That is not a bad score for your onions if your space is too small for 120 sets (! just ran some numbers and a space 4' X 4" would do 121 onions, so in a space of say 2' X 2", that would be NOA Playoff material!)

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

April 9, 2009
10:00 PM

Post #6388346

I might even be interested if i could watch team with names like that!!!!!
The Raging Scallions, The Fighting Walla Wallas
Of course, sadly, every team colors would be green and white.
Potagere

April 10, 2009
8:04 AM

Post #6390251

Aren't there purple scallions?

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

April 10, 2009
12:03 PM

Post #6390503

You got me--Did you drive your teachers crazy when you were a kid? -And I guess you can include red

" The Florence (Long) Red Tide washed over The Fightin' Fistulosums in yesterday's NOA regionals..."
Potagere

April 10, 2009
3:44 PM

Post #6391301

I thought they liked me!
And see, aren't we having some fun now?

Happy Easter!

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

April 10, 2009
5:48 PM

Post #6391824

And Happy Easter back at vous :-)

Thumbnail by sallyg
Click the image for an enlarged view.

Loon
AuGres, MI
(Zone 5b)

January 25, 2010
3:16 PM

Post #7494798

Thanks for the article and discussion. I have been embarrassed that I can't grow "garden onions". I have bought seeds and sets and nothing comes out right. Now I realize that I was buying the wrong thing. They're called "scallions" and I guess I need to find a source for seed for this instead.

I have some large galvanized tubs I would like to grow them in on my deck. I figured this way they won't get lost in weeds and grass and will be handy to harvest for cooking. I LOVE onions and use them daily in all kinds of dishes and salads. I am tired of having to buy them at the store. I want to grow my own. I've been waiting for instruction and discussion to learn how to do so.

Any futher tips would be appreciated.

I would especially like to know what type of soil I should buy to put in the containers.

Thanks.

This message was edited Jan 25, 2010 10:17 AM
Potagere

January 25, 2010
3:24 PM

Post #7494836

Hi Loon,

I think you can probably use almost any good quality soilless potting mix, which is what I've done to grow onions on the deck, except I usually get one of the mixes that drains quickly (the mixes fro geraniums are usually good for this) and then add some sharp sand and a heavy dose of perlite or vermiculite. I'll even confess that I have spread a mix just like this on small patches of my garden and had far better luck than I usually have with some onions. Hey, I even got some radishes this year by doing that!

And that reminds me! If gunnersmom is still picking up this thread, how did you do with the Walla Wallas?

Cheers
Loon
AuGres, MI
(Zone 5b)

January 25, 2010
4:02 PM

Post #7494996

Thanks Potagere. I'm wondering if the onions would do better in a shallow type container like an old plastic kid's swimming pool with holes drilled in it or the deeper olf galvanized tubs I have with holes drilled for drainage ???
We live by the lake so our soil tends to be sandy anyway. I may try a few in the ground just to see how they do. The problem there is keeping the invasive grass out of it. Weeding is a major pain.
Think they do better bare soil or mulched? If mulched what do you recommend?
Potagere

January 25, 2010
4:16 PM

Post #7495047

Loon, if you have the deeper tubs, I'd use those. While it's true they have shallow root systems, I've seen some photos somewhere that show how extensive the hair roots can be, so giving them something as close to growing in the ground as possible is probably a good idea. The deeper pots will probably hold moisture better, too, and onions may not like standing in water, but they aren't too keen on drying out a lot, either.

If you've got sandy loam, I don't see why you can't grow them in the ground. The thing is, they also need a lot of good organic sources of nutrients. They don't really require much, but they have a hard time getting what they need, so good, rich soil is a must.
I've mulched with wood bark and with cocoa hulls, and both worked fine. Leaves or clippings of that invasive grass (so long as you cut it before the seed heads appear) ought to work well, also. Onions tolerate more ecid soil than a lot of veggies, so pine needles should also be OK. I usually plant lettuces in between the rows of young onion sets or plants. They lettuces help shade the soil and the baby onions, so they help keep down the weeds and retain moisture; kind of a living mulch! Makes putting together a salad so much easier, too! Lettuce is greedy, though, so you need good rich soil to make this work.
Loon
AuGres, MI
(Zone 5b)

January 25, 2010
4:21 PM

Post #7495071

We have lots of compost. We raise chickens so have tons of leaves mixed with chicken manure that has composted all winter.

If you use rich soil do you still need to fertilize or do they do better without so much fertilizer?

Also, I could move my big tubs easily into the shade for afternoon or would they do better in full sun all day long?
Potagere

January 25, 2010
4:37 PM

Post #7495125

Lucky you! Chicken manure compost!
I always put a good dose of bonemeal (as a rich source of potash) as underbanding, about 2-3 inches below the level where I will set the sets, plants or seeds, and then sprinkle some bonemeal and bloodmeal on the soil and rake it in a couple of times during the season. Seems to work.

I got the idea for the underbanding at planting from Texas A&M, which also says to apply high-nitrogen fertilizer every 3 weeks, but NO fertilizer once the necks start to go soft.

I think full sun is probably best. As long as the tubs don't overheat and you don't get dried out soil, I don't see the value in moving them around a lot. Unless of course you need the exercise!

Jim
Loon
AuGres, MI
(Zone 5b)

January 25, 2010
5:08 PM

Post #7495221

LOL, well the tubs are on wheels so it's not much exercise to push them from the sunny part of the deck to the shady part in the afternoon.

For nitrogen fertilizer would you recommend something like fish emulsion? I also have some "Messenger" I could mix it with.
Potagere

January 25, 2010
5:46 PM

Post #7495389

Sorry, Loon, but I'm not familiar with most US brands of fertilizer.
Fish emulsion should work just fine. I can't get that here, so I use blood meal.
If you want to move tubs, you could dry moving some and not others and see how the plants react.

Should get a good crop this year!

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

January 26, 2010
2:36 PM

Post #7498311

I'm glad Potagere was standing by to answer the recent batch of questions!
All I can add is --Messenger is that 'harpin protein" treatment, as far as I know contains no fertilizer and I'm not sure if its officially OKed for food.
Potagere- I planted fall radishes and had some huge ones that got kind of hot by the time I found them--it seemed they took a long time to grow bulbs so I quit checking. I'm still stumped by radish growing.
Potagere

January 26, 2010
2:50 PM

Post #7498359

Well, Sally, I'm still pretty mystified as well.
I'm going to try something different this year: "Seed ribbons"!
I always thought they were kind of "dumb" and expensive. Well, they ARE expensive when compared to the cost of a packet of seed! But this last season, I accidentally bought a packet of seed ribbon for carrots. Had the best crop of carrots I think I've ever had! So this year I'm also going to try it for radishes. I figure, if I buy a cheap packet of seed and get nothing, and an expensive packet of seed ribbon and get a useful crop (we're STILL digging carrots and will have them well into Spring! First year I haven't bought any at the store), then the ribbon just got real cheap!
Good to hear from you. Hope you'll be able to keep on writing!
Jim

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

January 26, 2010
3:05 PM

Post #7498415

Howdy--
I saw more offerings in seed ribbons at Lowes the other day--convenience is a big seller, maybe in this case it's justified. Carrots are another problem for me! Also considering putting the seeds into 'ahem' bath tissue and making my own seed ribbons that way. I never thinned those radishes in fall, I don't like thinning,

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