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Walk Like an Onion


One of the disappointments of my gardening has been that I’ve never been able to grow decent sized onions. Normally I don’t compare my veggies to those in a supermarket, but when you start with an onion set (small onion bulbs less than 1″ in diameter) the size of a dime and it’s only the size of a ping-pong ball by harvest it’s a bit disappointing. In fact I’m not bothering to grow standard onions this year.

I had good luck with leeks last year, which is a reasonable substitute for onions under some circumstances, but you can’t use the tops for much (though they’re great for flavoring chicken or vegetable stock) and they aren’t ready until late summer/fall after being planted in March.

Egyptian Walking Onion

Egyptian Walking Onion

However, a couple of years ago I bought a couple of Egyptian Walking Onions at Catskill Native Nursery late in the season and stuck them in my garden. Most members of the onion family will send up flower stalks (scapes) in the spring out of the center of their leaves.

Onion Scape

Onion Scape

In the case of “walking onions” instead of a flower at the end of the scape there are new baby onions. Eventually, the scape gets too heavy and falls to the ground, where the baby onions root into the soil and grow new plants. So over time, the onions “walk” around your garden.

Walking Onion Bulblets

Walking Onion Bulblets

The EWOs did OK last year and I was able to use them sort of like scallions, so I picked up a bunch more last fall and now it appears EWOs really hit their prime in their second year. Like most members of the onion family they are perennials and in addition to forming new onions on the scape, EWOs can create new onions by splitting into 2 or more new onions. The clump below is a second year clump which had four onions. The one I picked (see above) weighed over 13 oz by itself. I used the bottom exactly like a normal onion and the tops like scallions. Some of the tops are so-thick walled and pungent it’s better to sautee them as with the bottoms.

Egyptian Walking Onion Clump

Egyptian Walking Onion Clump

Give Egyptian Walking Onions a try. I think you’ll like them.

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