A bed of Egyptian walking onions.
An unusual perennial onion, Allium x proliferum (formerly classified as Allium cepa var. viviparum, bulbiferum or proliferum) is a cross between Allium cepa, the cultivated onion, and Allium fistulosum, the Welsh onion. It gets its common name from the way it “walks” across the garden. Instead of flowers, this plant produces topsets, a cluster of bulbils, at the top of the stalk where the flowers and seeds would normally be. The stalks eventually flop over from the weight of the bulbils (if not harvested) and replant themselves, thus beginning their “walk” across the ground. It is thought to be originally native to India or Pakistan, then later introduced into Europe by the Romans.
The slightly enlarged stems.
Also sometimes also called tree onions or topset onions, this vigorous and trouble-free plant is hardy in zones 3-10. It is not susceptible to juglone, so can be grown near black walnut trees. Thrips can be a problem in hot, dry summers, but the damage is primarily cosmetic.
The plants die back to look scruffy over the winter, but very early in the spring new green shoots emerge from the brownish bases. Like other onions, the leaves are hollow. The red or purple bulbs are only slightly enlarged from the stem, and about an inch long. By late spring and into early summer heavy spikes are produced that grow up to 2 feet tall and on which the bulbils are borne. These bulbils start out tiny and green, but eventually grow larger with reddish to brown skins.
Egyptian walking onions in late winter (L), spring (C) and just before forming heavy bulbil-forming spikes (R).
Plant in full sun where you intend to have them for a long time (I’ve had the same plants, never dug, for well over 10 years). It can even be grown in a mixed border for an unusual effect!
Egyptian walking onions are easy to propagate. Just break off the bulbils and plant! Place them no more than an inch deep and 4-5 inches apart. They can be separated, but will grow as a clump very well. They don’t need to be replanted as the similar multiplier onions do. They also multiply from the base, so established clumps can be divided as well. This is best done in spring.
The bulbils form on the ends of the spikes (L) and begin to grow small plantlets (LC) which may form another spike with more bulbils (RC) or will root and form new plants if they fall on or are place in the ground (R).
A bed of Egyptian walking onions with bulbils.
There are many ways to use this plant. Dig the entire clump or just harvest individual leaves. The small, underdeveloped onions at the bottom of the mature plant are edible, but are very hot. Eat the tender young shoots and stems as green onions. The bulbils can be eaten, too, if not replanted (although I find peeling them rather tedious). They can also be stored for a few months. If you leave the plant it will produce topset bulbils the following year. If you want more onions, just plant a few new bulbils.
– Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin – Madison
- Egyptian Onion Care: Tips On Growing Walking Onions
- How to Grow Egyptian Onions
- Egyptian Onion Care
- Egyptian Walking Onions
- Onions for the Garden & Good Health
- Noon Edition
- SPECIALITY ONION SEED:
- ~ FIRSTLY, SALAD / BUNCHING / SPRING ONIONS ~
- ~ Garlic Chives ~
- Grow me now: Egyptian Walking Onions
Egyptian Onion Care: Tips On Growing Walking Onions
Unlike most onion varieties, Egyptian walking onions (Allium x proliferum) set bulbs at the top of the plant – each with numerous small onions that you can harvest for planting or eating. Egyptian walking onions taste much like shallots, although slightly more pungent.
When the bluish-green stalk gets top-heavy, the stalk fall over, creating new roots and a new plant where the bulbs touch the ground. One Egyptian walking onion plant can travel 24 inches (61 cm.) each year, resulting in up to six new plants. Egyptian walking onions are known by several names, including top-set onions and tree onions. Need more walking onion information? Read on to learn about this interesting, attractive plant.
How to Grow Egyptian Onions
Although it’s possible to plant Egyptian walking onions in spring, you won’t be able to harvest onions until the following year. The ideal planting time for growing walking onions is between summer and the first frost for a harvest the next growing season.
Set the onion bulbs in the soil about 2 inches (6-8 cm.) deep, with 6 to 10 inches (15-25 cm.) between each bulb if you like big, pungent onions. On the other hand, if you prefer a steady harvest of green, milder onions, or if you want to use the stalks like chives, plant the bulbs 2 to 3 inches (6-8 cm.) apart.
Like all their onion cousins, Egyptian walking onions don’t appreciate heavy, wet soil. However, they are easy to grow in full sun and average, well-drained soil with a pH between 6.2 and 6.8.
Egyptian Onion Care
Egyptian onions are perennial and they will eventually walk across your garden. However, they are easy to control and aren’t considered invasive. Leave a few plants in your garden every year if you want the plants to keep walking for decades to come, but pull any that walk where they aren’t welcome.
Egyptian onion care is uninvolved and basically just requires keeping the soil lightly moist, but never soggy or drenched.
Otherwise, thin the plant as needed and divide the mother plant whenever it becomes overgrown or less productive – usually every two or three years.
Onions that walk across your garden
One of the quirkiest vegetables that I grow in my garden is the Egyptian Walking Onion. It’s a perennial, which means that the plant grows back from its main bulb every year. They also produce clusters of tiny onion bulbs at the tops of their stems rather than at their base. That’s how the plant got its name — the weight makes the stem topple over and the tiny bulbs grow into new plants a couple feet away from the parent.
The stalks bend over from the weight of the top sets
Why grow Walking Onions?
There are dozens of different types of onions to choose from so why grow the Egyptian Walking Onion? First of all, they’re hardy and will emerge every year before many of your other edibles. It’s a moment of joy when you see their green spikes pushing up from the earth in February.
There are a few different types of Egyptian Walking Onion but the one I grow is called Allium cepa var. proliferum. You can eat all parts of it including the main bulb, the stems (when they’re new and tender), and the tiny onionettes in the top set. They’re also an interesting plant to look at and aren’t invasive at all with their walk-about nature.
The ‘onionettes’ beginning to plump up on the top set
Growing from the Top Sets
The adult plants are started off by planting the small mature onions from the top of the stems. These begin forming in spring and are ready for harvesting in late summer — here on the Isle of Man (zone 9) mine are ready to be picked and stored in August. You’ll know that they’re ready when the stems have browned and dried up and the tiny bulbs look like miniature onions.
If you keep them dry, cool, and out of direct sunlight, the onionettes can last into the new year. You can also plant some of them in the autumn to create new plants for next year.
The fully ripened top sets can be replanted or harvested for the kitchen
Planting them Outdoors
The little onion sets can be planted straight into the soil, providing it’s not too cold or wet. The best time to do this is in early autumn and you should cover them with about an inch of soil. You can break them up into individual onions or you can plant the entire top set as one in the ground.
The plants don’t seem to mind crowding each other but I tend to space mine a few inches apart. All alliums like rich soil that’s well drained so if you have space in a raised bed, plant them there. You’ll see see signs of life by early February.
The tiny onionettes will often grow green leaves while still attached to the mother plant
Growing in Modules
The other way to grow Egyptian Walking Onions is in modules. Fill them with compost and just press the little sets into the centre. They don’t need to be fully buried either since the chance of birds or the elements uprooting them is low. Water them well and set them either in your greenhouse or a sheltered area in the garden. You’ll have green shoots on them around the same time as outdoor planted sets.
You can start the plants off either outdoors in the garden or in modules
Planting in the Garden
When the soil has warmed up, and any lingering snow or frost has passed, you can plant the modules into the garden. If you think they could use a little more footing, you could plant them slightly deeper than they were originally growing. Otherwise, plant them to the level they grew at in the modules.
Aftercare is easy. A mulch high in nitrogen, such as homemade compost, will keep their green leaves growing strong. In April the greens will be about 18″ tall and you can pick some of them to use as giant chives or as spring onions — just don’t defoliate an entire plant.
They’ll begin forming what look like flower buds, some of them curly like a garlic scape, in May. They’re pretty to look at and actually look appetizing. I ate one whole as an experiment and it was sharp and oniony — I probably shouldn’t have done that right before a meeting!
Egyptian Walking Onions in April. The greens can be used like spring onions.
They’ll Colonise your Garden
Though the Egyptian Walking Onion is not invasive, it will happily drop it’s top set and grow on its own. Maybe this is where it got it’s nickname of ‘Egyptian’ from — they could probably walk all the way from Egypt to Europe given enough time.
If you’d like to keep just a few plants, harvest the base bulbs of some of your mature plants and then plant a top set in its place. The mature bulbs at the base of plants are a little like round shallots and can be used in the same way. If you leave them in the ground, they’ll continue to regrow for years to come.
The tiny plants growing from a top set found in January
Cooking with the Egyptian Walking Onion
The tiny onions are so small that you might wonder what could be made with them. First off, you need to imagine the flavour — it’s somewhere between onions and garlic so use them as such. Infuse the peeled onionettes in oil, saute them in butter, and use them to your hearts content in pasta and stir fries.
One tool that makes cooking with them a lot easier is a garlic press. With it you don’t even have to peel them — just pop a tiny onion inside, press hard, and the onion squeezes out through the mesh. It makes such short work of them that you won’t be bothered with their fiddly size.
Photo: Penny Woodward
Walking onions are also known as tree onions, growing well from the sub-tropics to cold temperate regions, and autumn and winter are the best time to plant them. They are now botanically classified as Allium x proliferum as they have been shown through genetic testing to be a cross between the common onion (Allium cepa) and the welsh onion (Allium fistulosum).
The easiest to grow of all onions, these onions are also known as Egyptian and top-setting onions. They grow in any soil with reasonable drainage, but if you want big fat bulbs then dig in compost and horse, cow or sheep manure a few weeks before planting. Grow from bulbs planted with just the top poking out of the soil, or from single bulbils planted just under the surface of the soil, in a position with full sun. Space plants about 40cm apart and they will grow to be about 60cm tall. Tubular, typically onion leaves grow from the bulb and over the next few weeks new bulbs start to form around the original, about 6 in total. Later, a strong central flower stem pushes up from the centre of the clump, with bulbils instead of flowers forming at the top. These bulbils then start to grow green leaves so that the whole plant looks like a small, weird, prehistoric tree. The name walking onion comes from the way the heavy tree tops fall over, so that the bulbils are resting on the ground. These will then grow new leaves, new tops and fall over again, thus slowly walking across the garden.
Bulbs can be dug up about 5 months after planting. Save some bulbs for replanting or just replant the bulbils and eat the bulbs. There seems to be some variation in flavour of the bulbs, some being more mild and sweet and others stronger. There are also types with more red than brown skins. Both bulbs and bulbils have similar onion flavours and make an excellent substitute for brown onions in any dish.
By: Penny Woodward
First published: May 2016
Egyptian Walking Onions
How to Grow Eqyptian Walking Onions
Walking onions are a hardy perennial. In my climate they can be planted or harvested any time of year except when the ground is frozen. If pulled, the roots and a small piece of bulb may be replanted. They’ll grow a new plant. They may be propagated by planting the bulbils that form on top of the flower stalk, or by digging and dividing the mother clump. There are a few weeks after the flower stalk forms in which the stem becomes hard and undesirable. New bulbs form beside the flower stalk producing tender bulbs later in the season.
I typically keep a perennial mother clump to generate bulbils that I harvest and store in a dry area. I then replant the bulbils every few weeks as an annual to grow successive crops of green onions for market and to feed my family.
Egyptian onions are an inter-species hybrid between bulbing onions and bunching onions. The plants produce a few flowers, but as far as my plant breeding network has been able to determine, they may be sterile and produce few if any viable seeds. Oh no! One of those sterile plants that I was badmouthing the last couple of blogs. I did that deliberately to demonstrate that I’m willing to grow some sterile plants if fertile substitutes can’t be found. I used to grow sterile potatoes, but successfully transitioned to only growing fecund potatoes that produce true pollinated seeds. I also grow garlic and seedless grapes which are both sterile. Eventually I’ll transition to only growing fertile garlic, but I can’t foresee totally giving up my seedless grapes.
I have a small patch of onions my garden which is planted to both bulbing onions and bunching onions. I allow them to flower together. I am hoping to eventually find some inter-species hybrids among the offspring. This will create more biodiversity among my tree onions and allow them to avoid the eventual fate of clones: a combination of pests, diseases, or weather that overcomes the plants defenses. My ancestor’s clone has been going strong for more than 70 years, but it could meet it’s demise any decade now.
I am also using pollen from both parent species to pollinate the top setting onion flowers. Perhaps that will be the kick they need to set seed.
Egyptian walking onions are a wonderful plant in the home garden because they can provide great onion taste any time of year that the ground isn’t frozen. Even though they are grown as clones, I suspect that the creation of new clones may be within the skill set of the average landrace gardener. This is part of the reason why I believe that landrace gardening is a path towards food security through common sense and traditional methods.
Joseph Lofthouse grows vegetables in a cold mountain valley where he practices the art of landrace gardeningin order to feed his community more effectively.
Onions for the Garden & Good Health
By Jill Henderson
Of all the vegetables, herbs and spices that are used to season food and heal the body, the unassuming onion is rarely given its proper due. For a plant that serves so many needs and desires in our kitchens, gardens and herbal pantries, the savory spicy-sweet goodness of onions in all their forms should be elevated.
Onions and all of their onion-like relatives have long been classified as belonging to the Lilly (Lilliaceae) family, but in 2009 botanists began using a scientific system known as phylogenetics to reorganize many plant families based on genetic testing.
The entire Allium genus was reclassified as being a part of the Amaryllis (Amaryllidaceae) family of plants, which includes the lovely and highly regarded flowering perennials of the same name. Even so, botanists are still studying and debating the order of the genera Allium, which contains 15 subgenera and nearly 1,000 species!
The flowers of Egyptian Walking onions will soon be transformed into bulbs.
Obviously, the most well-known onion is the common bulb onion, known to us botanical nuts as Allium cepa. Botanically speaking, cepa onions are all the same. The only comparable differences are in their shapes, colors and sizes, the day-length needed to grow them and their flavor and storability. In general, cepa onions are most often categorized as “cooking,” “sweet” or “storage” types.
Yellow onions are generally referred to as cooking, storage, or winter onions because they hold up well during long periods of cooking and are excellent keepers. Next are the red salad onions, which are sweet and mild-flavored, making them the best choice when raw onions are desired. Lastly, there are the white onions, which tend to be a bit smaller than their red or yellow counterparts. White onions are sweet, very mild and do not store well. While they are really best for fresh eating, people who don’t particularly like onions tend to gravitate toward them for cooking, as well.
Egyptian walking onions make for fantastic scallions in late winter.
If you like onions but can’t grow them due to climate or soil conditions, or because you don’t have the space, you might want to consider one of A. cepa’s perennial cousins such as bunching onions or scallions (Allium fistulosum), potato or multiplier onions (Allium cepa aggregatum) and walking onions (Allium cepa proliferum). All of these onions are true perennials that come back year after year from a single planting to produce dense clumps of elongated fleshy stems and copious leaves and, in the case of walking and potato onions, small bulbs that readily divide.
Walk Those Onions
One of my personal favorites is the walking, or Egyptian walking onion. Some people also refer to them as tree- or top-setting onions. Walking onions reproduce vegetatively, either by the division of the underground bulb or through bulbils (also known as bulblets) that form atop the flowering stem. As the bulbils reach maturity, their size and weight pull the tall flowering stem to the ground where the bulbils then take root; slowly “walking” away, season by season, from the parent plant.
I love my Egyptian walking onions so much that I no longer grow bulb onions. Walking onions are extremely hardy, will grow in almost any soil, and are heat- and drought-tolerant and day-length neutral. In fact, when we got our starts we didn’t have time to dig, much less amend the soil, and the only place we had to put them was in red greasy clay. It’s been four years now and I sometimes think of digging them up and doing right by that patch of earth that stays wet all winter and becomes hard as a rock in the dog days of summer — but the walking onions have absolutely thrived there.
The only caveats to growing walking onions are that they have two dormant periods. The first is the deepest, coldest part of winter after a round of bone-chilling temps in the single digits. If you live in a place with long cold winters, expect walking onions to go dormant after a few hard freezes. The second dormancy comes in late summer, some months after the bulbils have completely matured. Yet, as soon as the first cool breeze suggests fall is on the way, an abundance of new leafy growth appears and we’re back to harvesting as much onion “chives” as we can handle and digging up small bulbs throughout the winter.
Egyptian walking onion bulbils.
Many people like to harvest the little bulbils for pickling or to give away to friends to start patches of their own. You can also use your bulbils to grow little storage onions. Gather the largest bulbils in late summer after they are mature and keep them in a cool dark place until early fall. Plant them several inches apart in a well-cultivated bed, mulch and forget about them until the next summer. When the plants send up flowering stalks, cut them off immediately. Allow the plants to go dormant naturally and harvest your well-cured storage onions.
My only advice for those seeking to grow walking onions, particularly Egyptian walking onions, is to try before you buy. Some cultivars are extremely strong in flavor.
Grow a Row
Common bulb onions are typically grown from either sets or plants. Sets are essentially baby onions that have been grown from seed and allowed to develop a small bulb. Once the bulb is big enough, the plant is pulled and the bulbs dried for replanting the following spring. Sets are probably the most popular methods of growing large storage onions. On the other hand, onion plants are grown from seed in late winter and allowed to grow only long enough to establish a good root system before they are dug up, bundled and sold fresh in the spring. If you decide to use onion plants, be sure they’re very fresh. Old, dried out and wilty onion plants don’t produce quality bulbs. Some gardeners find that sets and plants allow them to produce harvest-size onions more quickly than those started from seed at home.
Onion chives in bloom are not only beautiful, but also delicious.
Keep in mind, all varieties of common onions mature in relation to day length. Short-day onions need 10 hours of sunlight each day, while long-day types require up to 15 to trigger bulb formation. If the day length is not long enough for the variety, the bulbs will be small in size. In general, if you live in Zone 7 or below, you should grow only long-day varieties, while those gardening in Zone 8 and above will be best served by planting short-day varieties. Day-neutral onions can be grown in any zone and produce a nice-sized bulb. All onions are typically harvested in late summer after the tops begin to yellow and fall over.
Onions that do not produce large bulbs, such as bunching onions, chives and leeks are always started from seed. Be sure the seed you use is very fresh — those over a season old probably won’t germinate. If the ground is already frozen, start your seeds indoors on a windowsill roughly eight weeks prior to the last spring frost. Sow seed ½ inch deep and 2 inches apart, and allow 10 to 14 days for germination.
Keep the tops trimmed back to about 8 inches tall (this helps the plant put more energy into developing a good root system and keeps the planting manageable). Transplant your onion starts in the garden after danger of a hard freeze has passed and the soil is workable. If you’re worried about cold injury to your young plants, try covering the bed with a single layer of light poly-spun garden fabric.
Of course, you don’t have to start onions from seed indoors to get a good crop, especially if you live in a long-day onion zone. The best way to approach direct-sowing is to prepare a bed in late fall to early winter and direct-sow the seed. If you time it just right, your seeds will germinate, produce a small root and then go dormant with the coming of hard winter weather. In early spring, you can apply a cloak of poly-spun garden fabric to get your onions leafing out as soon as possible. Remove the fabric after danger of a hard freeze has passed. This method is known as “winter sowing,” and it works great on all cold weather spring crops.
To keep a perennial patch of non-bulbing onions going in your garden with very little work, simply allow a few plants of the same variety and species to mature and set seed. Keep in mind that onions that share the same species will cross-pollinate one another. So if you want to keep your onions true, be sure to allow only one variety of each species to set flowers and seed at a time, otherwise you might end up with an undesirable cross. Once the seed ripens you can either gather and scatter it by hand or allow the seeds to fall where they may. You’ll have some thinning to do come spring, but the bounty is virtually endless. Green onions, scallions and chives do especially well when treated this way.
An Ounce of Prevention
Simply eating onions on a regular basis can have a positive effect on your overall health, and because onions and garlic share many of the same chemical constituents, they are often used in similar ways.
Giant ornamental onions are grown primarily for their showy flowers.
One of the best-known uses of onion is in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. Used alone or with other herbs, onions can aid or ameliorate heart attacks, high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, blood clots, high cholesterol and angina through their ability to increase blood circulation and viscosity by reducing the amount of fat absorbed into the bloodstream.
Onions also reduce inflammation and fight many types of infections, including fungal infections such as athlete’s foot. Onions are often used to ease the symptoms of colds and flu such as fever, cough and bronchial congestion. They also have strong antibiotic and antimicrobial properties, which are used to inhibit or treat respiratory infections, staphylococcus, streptococcus, cholera, bacillus typhus and dysentery.
Raw or lightly cooked leaves and bulbs should be consumed whenever possible to promote overall health. A flavorful and healing infusion of onion is easily prepared using vegetable, fish or poultry broth. Use as much onion as is palatable.
As a precaution, those persons taking blood-thinning medications or preparing for surgery should talk to their practitioners before using medicinal quantities of onion for circulatory disorders. Other than that, go ahead and indulge, literally, to your heart’s content.
Grow a Little for the Garden
Alliums are not only good for you, but they’re good for your garden, too. When planted in and among vegetables and flowers, Alliums can repel insect and animal pests while attracting beneficials like predatory insects, pollinating bees and beautiful butterflies. The same phytochemicals that make Alliums healthy and flavorful are also fierce fungicidal agents that can be used against powdery mildew and other leaf diseases. A simple tea made with the leaves can be sprayed on many garden plants, including peas and roses, with no worries of harming them, and it might even help repel bad bugs and a curious deer or two. Besides all of the other beneficial characteristics of Alliums, the abundance of bright white, pink and purple flowers does absolute wonders for the gardener’s soul.
I think we can all agree that onions are pretty amazing. With so many incredible, edible onions to choose from, there’s absolutely no excuse not to have at least two or three growing in your garden year-round. Get to know your onions, your health and your garden — your family will thank you for it.
Jill Henderson is an artist, author and organic gardener. She is editor of Show Me Oz, a weekly blog featuring articles on gardening, seed saving, nature ecology, wild edible and medicinal plants and culinary herbs. She has written three books: The Healing Power of Kitchen Herbs, A Journey of Seasons: A Year in the Ozarks High Country and The Garden Seed Saving Guide. This article appeared in the February 2016 issue of Acres U.S.A. magazine.
Time to pickle some spicy little balls of flavor!
The Egyptian walking onions are going nuts on the farm. With the wet weather, they have nearly doubled in size, and creating dozens of little onion tops.
For many of us, the walking onions are nothing more than a novelty plant. They are even called invasive. Truth is, the Egyptian walking onion is simply a busy little plant, that loves to stretch out as far as the gardener will allow. By using them, you naturally control that spreading habit.
We keep them in check on our place, by using the green parts from early spring until early summer. They are more pungent than chives, hotter than regular onions, yet tender and delicious when cooked.
Pickled Onions That Bite You Back
My favorite way to use this peculiar onion plant, is to break off the bulblets from the tops of the stalk and pickle them. If you love pickled garlic, you will simply love pickled onions. Be aware, these are not your wishy washy cocktail onion. Pickled Egyptian walking onions bite you back.
To pickle them, break off all the tops you have, once they get their purplish covering. Traditionalists will say to use the bulbs under the ground, but I learned to use the tops and they are delish!
- Collect about 2 pounds of the Egyptian onion tops.
- In a stainless steel pot, combine equal parts white vinegar and water (for 2 pounds of onions, you need about 5 cups total)
- Add 1/4 cup pickling salt and bring to a boil for 1 minute, or until salt dissolves. Reduce heat, cover and keep hot until ready to fill jars.
- In 4 pint jars, add 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper and 1 dried chili pepper to each jar, fill with peeled onions and pour hot mixture over all, until covered.
- Seal and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Let the onions cure about 2 weeks for best flavor.
More Pickling And Preserving Â (From Earth Eats)
- Pickled Peppers and Tomatillo Salsa
- Pickled Asparagus
- Pickled Ramps
- Make Your Own Garlic Salt
The Earth Eats Podcast this week is all about pickling, including more tips from Amy Jeanroy, subscribe in iTunes, or follow our updates on facebook or twitter to be sure not to miss it!
SPECIALITY ONION SEED:
~ FIRSTLY, SALAD / BUNCHING / SPRING ONIONS ~
Salad onions, also known as Spring, Green or Bunching onions, don’t make a bulb.
Instead, they quickly make a white stem with green leaves at the top,
and the whole plant is chopped up and used fresh in salads or cooking.
They are quicker and milder than bulbing onions. We really like them chopped in soups, stews and omelettes, as well as in salads.
These versatile plants give you some nice greens from a small area, often available when there is not much else in the garden.
When to sow? Usually sow after midsummer, for cold-hardy onions, over wintering for use the following spring.
(They can also be sown in Spring – shown in pale green below – for very nice spring onions from the start of July on into August.)
Screen is too small to display the sowing calendar. Try turning your device sideways.
Kyoto Market GREEN LEAVES
We chose this well-known traditional variety from Japan because it has been particularly bred to make a lot of green leaves. Chop them all up and add to omlettes, soups, stew and salads.
It also splits into bunches as it grows and you can divide the clump to multiply your onion patch.
Green leaves, bunching type which divides as it grows.
300 seed £
‘Feast’ WHITE STEM
This is a very good, cold-hardy bunching onion, that makes quite large ‘spring onions’ quickly from either a spring or late summer sowing. What would be a ‘bulb’ in a normal onion here is drawn out very tall and thin, giving a plant that looks like a small onion-flavoured leek.
It is easily chopped and used instead of onions in any recipe. In Japan they repeatedly earth up to make them particularly long and white, but it grows very well even if you just leave it be.
Long white leek-shaped spring onion. Not a dividing-type; each seed gives one onion, just as normal.
200 seed £
Red Beard NEW!
A special bunching onion from China that has green leaves, a white shank, and a pretty red base to the stem.
It also splits into bunches as it grows and you can divide the clump to multiply your onion patch.
300 seed £
~ Garlic Chives ~
Chinese Chives (a.k.a. Garlic Chives)
Chinese chives are an easily grown herb, very useful in the kitchen. Their clumps of distinctive flat leaves have rounded tips and a mild garlic flavour, hence their other common name of Garlic Chives.
We particularly like them snipped into an omelette. They actually make an underground rhizome and come back year after year, so once you have a clump established you have them forever.
lots of seeds £
~ TOPSETTING, WALKING or TREE ONIONS grown from Sets ~
Mixed Top Setting Tree Onions
Here we have a botanical oddity for you which we have grown for years, but only recently have added to the catalogue. Topsetting onions are a class of bunching onions that are, well, a bit confused.
They grow normally, but when the time comes, instead of making a flower, they make a tiny bunch of bulbils on the end of the flowerstalk where the flower should be. Sometimes these then sprout while still attached, making a second set of bulbs at the top!
They are also known as ‘Tree Onions’ or ‘Walking Onions’ because the flowerstalk falls over, and the bulbils root where they touch the ground. The next year, these form onions in the new location, grow a stalk with bulbils on top – which then falls over . . . in this way they can walk a good foot every year and eventually migrate off your plot and into the wilds.
The onions are nice and hardy, and used as any bunching onion, while the bulbils can be used in pickles, or chopped up for cooking -but we think most people really want them for amusement as much as anything else.
Needless to say, you should never need to buy them again – just split up the bulbils and plant them out each year.
To be fair, clear and avoid any disappointment, the reproductive bulbils we send out are very small – about the size of a pea.You are requesting 1 topsetting onion – but to be sure of getting one to grow we send you four bulbils.
one topsetting onion (4 bulbils supplied in a packet to be sure of at least one success) £
If you don’t get one established onion plant, then of course we will refund or replace. (But most people report that all four bulbs take!)
Grow me now: Egyptian Walking Onions
image: Tony Alter (Flickr)
Generally they are grown in the ground but I’m giving them a go in a large container because that’s the only space I have right now.
Egyptian walking onions are a perennial onion variety that produce both regular bulbs that clump around the original bulb, as well as small aerial bulblets that develop on the top of the stem. These eventually cause the stem to bend to the ground allowing the bulblets to take root into the soil and grow into new plants. The bulblets start to sprout while they still attached to the main plant and literally step into a new position and this is where the name ‘walking onion’ comes from.
They grow around 60cm tall and the bulbs, top-sets and the leaves can all be eaten.
Genetic testing has shown tree onions to be a cross between the common onion (Allium cepa) and the welsh onion (Allium fistulosum). They are now botanically classified as Allium x proliferum.
If you’d like to join me in growing some, here are some tips: