Monday, April 16

She Who Procrastinates... Eats Onions in May?

Late last autumn, I was digging out a few of the 'Fuldaglut' and 'Voodoo' sedums from the Japanese rock garden to use as edging in another bed when I made a discovery: Three strays that had escaped the onion harvest. I wasn't too surprised by this find--after all, the red onion skins were about the same color as the sedum leaves, so the oversight was understandable. I made a mental note to come back and dig them before I went inside for the night.

Fast forward to... okay, well, this week. I am in the backyard taking the usual spring pictures: Groundbreaking buds of peony bushes, an amazing number of atriplex hortensis seedlings, etc. Out of the corner of my eye, I catch sight of several jaunty spears of green. Onion green, to be exact.

Being curious, I pulled a little of the dirt away from the bulb and poked it. It seems pretty firm. The greens are up about 6 inches already, and it didn't take long to find the greens from the other two stray onion bulbs as well.

I admit, I am a little bit out of my comfort zone on this one. I have always been good with the usual cycle: Plant onion sets in the spring. Harvest tasty onions throughout the late summer and fall whenever you need onions. Suffer through a NE Ohio winter with bland onions from the grocery store, and then begin the whole process again the following spring.

Anyone know what I can expect from these three intrepid red onions? Will they do something magical and give me seeds or baby onions to plant somehow? Will they flower and then turn to mush--or be tough and yucky like old grocery store onions if I try to eat them?

I'm always up for an experiment so I won't be digging them up... I'd just like to know what I might be in for on this one. And whether it's worth really whacking back that beautiful salvia that you see in the picture so the onions can get some more sun.

17 comments:

Patrick said...

You should try eating the greens. They probably won't be spectacular, but might be better than onions from the store now.

They will probably send up flower stalks in several weeks, may or may not produce seeds, but since it's probably a hybrid variety any seeds may not be very useful for replanting.

They may send up very nice flowers! Some people grow Allium plants just for the flowers.

meresy_g said...

I have no idea. But keep us posted as to what happens. I kind of think that they wouldn't be good for eating and might flower, maybe producing seeds for later use? Just a guess.

Kate said...

Having never grown onions, I am looking forward to seeing what happens. Maybe you'll did them up and have tons of little bulbs to plant next year.

I don't think it is worth whacking the Salvia though ... but then I love Salvia, so I'm biased!

lisa said...

Much as I love to procrastinate, I have no experience with this one! I grow alliums for their flowers, but would never try and eat the bulbs. But regular onions? I say if you have three, maybe dig one to try now, one in summer, and either let the third grow on, or pick it in fall...fun to see what you find, regardless!

Hayden said...

Here in zone 9 we're not given the choice to plant onions in the spring; they're put in each fall and if we don't get any in, we won't find them available anywhere in spring.

I've heard onions are really good partners for roses... and there are three small onions sprouting in my veggie basket right now, so I plan to plant them between the roses this weekend. Worst case, I think the flowers will look good with roses, best case, they'll help chase off some bugs.

I'll be interested to see what you do!

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Patrick, good point about the red onions being a hybrid. I confess that I didn't keep the package--but there usually is only one "red onion" option at the garden centers. I have drumstick alliums and chives in the garden already, but it will be interesting to see if these have pretty flowers.

meresy_g, now that I think about it I bet you're right that the bulbs won't taste good anymore... if for no other reason than that the greens are coming out, etc. I'll definitely post updates.

Kate, I love salvias too! These are one of 5 different types of culinary sage I grow, and I have 3 plants so I probably could sacrifice a branch or two... tough, though. :)

Lisa, hmm. I just got done commenting that I bet the onions won't taste good because they've thrown up greens... but maybe I'll feel a little more adventurous later in the week and try one anyway. *grin*

Hayden, thanks for visiting my blog! Sounds like your onion choices in zone 9 are like our garlic choices in zone 6. If you don't get garlic into the ground each fall here, you're pretty much out of luck.

I've heard the same about garlic/onion family plants in terms of helping roses. I usually put a little clump of chives somewhere nearby, but now I'm wishing I'd sited my drumstick alliums a little closer as well.

Ki said...

Hmmm, did you plant onions with salvia? Or did this onion decide it didn't like where it was and did a bit of moving on its own?

Blackswamp_Girl said...

ki, well... okay, so I admit that it was a little unconventional. But the salvia ('Newe Ya'ar' culinary sage) and the red-leaf sedums needed something, and I needed a spot for the onions that wasn't slated to be dug up during the summer.

The onion tops looked like a smattering of thick green spears (or some kind of succulent grass) bridging the gap between them. Visually, it looked pretty nice. :)

Crafty Gardener said...

What a lovely surprise to find your onions. I grow Egyptian walking onions just because I am fascinated with how the onion bulbs/sets develop. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Happy gardening.

John Curtin said...

Kim,
If they are in the way why not pick and eat them. I've had a few escapees as well. They'll probably taste a bit stronger and you could also finely chop the green stem - use them like a spring onion.
Amazing the way plants can be so resilient.

Sandy said...

I put some sprouted onions in my flower garden one year, and they were really pretty when they flowered.

Naturegirl said...

We are always learning from Mother Nature! You will learn about your onions this year it seems.
**I am flatterd that you L~O~V~E my *magical place* that I came upon!I will be going there again when I return and you will be there with me.hugs NG

Green thumb said...

Dear Kim,thanks for stopping by India Garden.
Loved your blog and now I know the reason for your nomination in "Garden Blogger You Would Most Like to Have as a Neighbor" category.Will sure vote for you.
And about the onions,I too think that they are likely to flower if left as such.Do keep us informed about the future course of events.

guild_rez said...

Kim,
thank you for your visits on my blogs.
Have a wonderful weekend,
finally it is spring in Toronto..
cheers Gisela
Earth Day April 22, 2007
Do your part, preserve your environment..

The County Clerk said...

so... what you people are saying (if I have this right) is:

Some of the stuff that grows in our gardens can be eaten? ???

WOW. PARADIGM SHIFT.

In that case, I have my eyes open for a "Blackened New York Strip" plant. Please advise.

(Just leave the onions and let 'em go. See what happens. They are obviously hardy cultivars. That's cool.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

When in doubt, wait and see! If it flowers, well that's nice too because the flowers are pretty! And whatever you do, don't whack that salvia back!

judie said...

I linked here from Nature Girl and I have to say it was mainly because your name intrigued me. Love it! Onions? Geesh, thank goodness for Publix, or we would starve in this house. I find it difficult to grow mold! And now I read in your comments about WALKING onions? Oh dear...I'll be back for more of these special stories! Nice to meet you! :)

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