These are the onions I grew this year.
I harvested them this weekend and they may be the single best argument for trying new things in the garden.I can’t give you poundage because I just pulled them and they are curing but I can assure you I’ve never grown more onions before. And here’s where it gets mind-blowing for me: I grew all those onions in less than half of an 8-by-4-foot bed.
In the past I’ve always grown onions from purchased plants and spaced them maybe 4 inches apart. (I’ve never tried growing from sets, which is probably the most common way to start onions.) This year I did nothing of the sort.
First off, I started them from seed, having been persuaded by a variety of sources, including Savvy Gardening, which made a compelling argument for having a much better selection of varieties when you grow from seed. Starting onions from seed is one hell of a commitment. I planted these inside on January 31.
I used Charles Dowding’s multisowing method to plant these and that took a bit of a leap of faith for me. Honestly I’d not heard of it before I saw Charles’s video on it and I’d become accustomed to planting onions with a healthy amount of space between each plant. And I may have made a big garden, but I’m all about maximizing the use of the space I have. When I planted these, I planted the seedlings in little clumps with up to seven seedlings in each. (Spoiler alert: Seven is too many.)
And that was it. The drip irrigation took it from there and other than the part where a rabbit decided to raise her family in the middle of my onions, all was well.
In fact all was more than well, because one of the great benefits of multisowing, is that you can pinch a few here and there to use as green onions. (Sidenote: Are green onions and scallions different names for the same thing? If they are different I can’t figure out what that difference might be.) And we pinched more than a few.
When you multisow you sacrifice size for quantity, which is a tradeoff I’m happy to make. I don’t need a two-pound onion because for an average meal we’d need a quarter of that at most. But I do need a lot of medium-sized onions. ‘Alisa Craig’ is known as a very large onion, so multisowing produced big, but not huge good-storing onions.
Four onions in a clump (after green onion eating) seemed to produce the right size of onions. And as you can see, we’ve got plenty to sustain us.
I’ll be sharing these, of course, even though I know we could eat them all. I get great satisfaction out of sharing my garden’s abundance. And some of the onions, such as ‘Gold Coin’ a cipollina variety, won’t store well, so we’ll eat those over the next month or two. ‘Red Long of Tropea’, which is sweet, not sharp, won’t store well either, so we’ll get to work on those really flavorful onions soon as well.
I also grew ‘Patterson’, which is a fairly non-descript yellow onion that stores very well.
I’ll admit that I was skeptical of every part of growing onions this year, from starting from seed to multisowing. Thank goodness I gave it shot.
Here’s to taking chances in the garden.