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Perennial Potato and Egyptian Walking Onions

March 28th, 2010

Over the past couple years I’ve been reading about permaculture and have been looking for ways to incorporate more of these techniques into my gardening. One of the things that many permaculture advocates suggest is using as many perennial vegetables as possible to limit the need to disturb the soil by working it too much. Adding more perennial fruits and vegetables would also help with the gardening work load! Since I love trying to things, especially in the garden I decided I’d try my hand at growing perennial onions and Egyptian Walking onions. I searched on-line and found them at Southern Exposure.

According to Southern Exposure:
Heirloom potato onions enjoyed widespread popularity before the turn of the century. Nearly every gardener grew potato onions and they were available in yellow, white, and reddish-brown varieties, the yellow being most common. Potato onions are still a local favorite in some areas of Virginia. Each bulb cluster of potato onions may contain many bulbs, averaging 2 to 2-1/2″ in diameter. When a small bulb (3/4″) is planted, it will usually produce one or two larger bulbs. When a large bulb (3 to 4″) is planted, it will produce approximately 10 to 12 bulbs per cluster. These bulbs of various sizes may be used for eating, storing, or replanting. By replanting a mixture of sizes you will have plenty of sets for next year’s crop and plenty of onions for eating during the year. Potato onions can increase 3- to 8- fold by weight each year depending on growing conditions. Potato onions store better than most seed onions, and individual bulbs can be grown in flower pots to produce a steady supply of green onions during the winter.

The potato onions looked like shallots and the Egyptian onions were tiny little bulbs, not quite what I was expecting.

Egyptian Onions are described by Southern Exposure this way:
The onion to plant if you always want onions. Egyptian Walking Onions grow perennially in a bed. Hardy bulbs set bulblets on stalks. Air bound bulblets will sprout new smaller stalks, which fall over and replant themselves, hence the name “Walking”. Bulbs can be harvested over Fall and Winter. Green Onions can be harvested selectively as they grow. Plant them where you intend to have them for a long time, as they are quite hardy.

I planted both of these last fall and I was pretty excited when I saw the potato onions and the walking onions coming up this spring. I’m interested to see how they do here in the gardens and what the flavor is like. Not having to plant as many onions each year will be nice if these work out. I’ll be sure you keep you posted.

Do you have any perennial vegetables or fruits in the garden?

29 Comments to “Perennial Potato and Egyptian Walking Onions”
  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mark mile, Susy Morris. Susy Morris said: Perennial Potato and Egyptian Walking #Onions http://goo.gl/fb/JUHK #newplants #plantinformation #perennialonions [...]

    Reply to Tweets that mention Perennial Potato and Egyptian Walking Onions | Chiot’s Run — Topsy.com's comment

  2. Diane@Peaceful Acres on March 28, 2010 at 7:56 am

    The Egyptian Walking Onions are a gift that keeps on giving!!! We like them coated with EVOO, Salt & Cayenne then thrown on the grill for a couple minutes….oh so sweet!!!

    Enjoy!
    .-= Diane@Peaceful Acres´s last blog ..A Sacred Decision =-.

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  3. Dave on March 28, 2010 at 8:06 am

    They sound interesting but I’ve never tried either type. As for perennial vegetables we just planted some asparagus and for fruit we have strawberries!
    .-= Dave´s last blog ..Fickle Spring =-.

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  4. Beegirl on March 28, 2010 at 8:52 am

    I was going to ask you if you had any onion recommendations. I haven’t had much luck with them here.. except maybe some white Lisbens.. I am going to have to look into the Egyptions… : )
    .-= Beegirl´s last blog ..It’s never just "junk"… =-.

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  5. kristin @ going country on March 28, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Asparagus, chives, tarragon, and chervil. But I’ll be very interested to see how your onions do, because I would LOVE to have perennial onions.
    .-= kristin @ going country´s last blog ..Two =-.

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  6. Ecologystudent on March 28, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Those are very interesting, I think I’ll have to start some next year.

    I have the usual herbs (though it appears that our hard winter killed some of them); rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, chives, etc. I also have kale, which re-seeds it self quite well so I never have to plant any seeds. Rhubarb, of course, with the usual raspberries, strawberries, and a kiwi. Not so much on the actual vegetable end of things though.
    .-= Ecologystudent´s last blog ..Certainty is a wonderful thing =-.

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  7. stefaneener on March 28, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Those are interesting and I love the idea of bulbs just waiting for you, but I’d have to do some more research before deciding they were for me.
    We have the usual fruit trees and herbs, and perennial veggies like artichokes.
    .-= stefaneener´s last blog ..Early morning beauty =-.

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  8. kitsapFG on March 28, 2010 at 11:10 am

    I grow the multiplier onions each year but they are lifted and then replanted so they are not quite a true perennial – just self sufficient. I also grow asparagus, rhubarb, raspberries, strawberrries, cranberries, blackberries, and blueberries – which are all perennial plantings. Last year I added bush pie cherries to the mix as well – another perennial.

    Reply to kitsapFG's comment

  9. Michelle on March 28, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Thank you for sharing this…I want to try the Walking Onions. Sounds like my kind of planting…perennial!
    .-= Michelle´s last blog ..Ever heard of a Blogging Bee? =-.

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  10. Dan on March 28, 2010 at 11:22 am

    I have always wanted to try potato onions. I’ll look forward to your report on them. It seems I can never grow nice onions from sets or seeds, maybe these would be a good alternative.
    .-= Dan´s last blog ..Pea Planting =-.

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  11. Kara on March 28, 2010 at 11:37 am

    I’m growing multiplier onions for the first time this year. They won’t be mailed until late April, but I look forward to tasting them! “The proof is in the pudding” as they say. hehe
    .-= Kara´s last blog ..Old Victory Garden Film =-.

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  12. Christine on March 28, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    I love southern exposure! Great catalog and so many unique varieties.
    .-= Christine´s last blog ..Spending the day in Sanibel! =-.

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  13. Sarah on March 28, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    I inherited some walking onions which I had to leave behind as we moved in December. I love them. I used the onion bulblets that grow on top whole in stews and pickles and planted a few for spring green onions. They are a bit bigger than green onions but tasty. In the summer the onions grew in clumps with small bulb. They get hotter in flavour but are great in stirfries etc. I would grow them in addition to bulb onions. They are very cold hardy and never had any pest damage. Probably the only thing the grass hoppers didn’t eat!
    I am looking for some more. I may have to raid my old garden!

    Reply to Sarah's comment

  14. risa b on March 28, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Over the last two decades we have collected rhubarb, Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, elephant garlic, and Egyptian onions, and are delighted to adapt our recipes to perenniality! In the same way, we’re sold on having filberts, figs, blueberries, kiwis, hops, goumi, aronia, blackberries, apples, plums, pears, cherries, peaches, nectarines, quinces, and persimmons on the premises — most of these in the chicken run which stretches around the garden. The birds eat the insects that approach the trees and the garden, and also the fruit that we miss. The challenge now is to find room for annuals!

    A friend came over for some of our rhubarb and walking onions that hat exceeded their boundaries. It was nice to have the “weeds” to dispose of in this manner. I’m looking to add potato onions next.
    .-= risa b´s last blog ..A strange year =-.

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  15. Ashley on March 28, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    I inherited a gaggle of walking onions when I bought my house. The woman whom we bought it from said she started with 4 a couple years ago and when I dug them up so I could put them in beds there were 20 and they just keep growing like mad. I think you will have excellent luck with them. Enjoy!

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  16. miss m on March 28, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    I’m not familiar with Potato Onions but received and planted some Egyptian Onions last Fall. Was happy to see them coming up the other day. Other perennial alliums I’m adding to the space this year include Nodding Onions, Prairie Onions, Wild Leeks and Wild Garlic. I’m also adding some salsify and sunchokes as well as many perennial herbs. Am hoping to get a lot more berries in the garden this year too.

    Reply to miss m's comment

  17. Sense of Home on March 28, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    I have chives, rhubarb, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. However, when I lived in the country we had what we called “winter onions”, I forgot all about those. Not sure they were the same as your potato or Egyptian Walking onions, but I appreciate the reminder as I will ask our local greenhouse about perennial onions.
    .-= Sense of Home´s last blog ..Book Review: "Canning & Preserving with Ashly English =-.

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  18. Pampered Mom on March 28, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    We used to have Egyptian Walking Onions at the house before this one. They came with the house and were rather overgrown as they had been neglected for several years. They were *very* hardy and our attempts at getting them out of a particular location were not always successful.

    Unfortunately we don’t have them now…and I’m finding that I didn’t really appreciate them as much as I should have when we did!
    .-= Pampered Mom´s last blog ..Folk Music Fridays – “Shenandoah” =-.

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  19. Sara on March 28, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    So, that’s what is supposed to happen with walking onions! I got some last spring that had already sprouted and while they are still alive and have re-sprouted, they didn’t really do much last year. I understand they should be fall-planted but as they were already sprouting last spring what could I do but plant them (they were a giveaway). I’m hoping they will have had their internal clocks “reset” by the winter and that I’ll get a harvest this year. Perhaps I also didn’t fertilize properly–any suggestions in that regard?

    Reply to Sara's comment

    • Susy on March 28, 2010 at 7:37 pm

      I’d try giving them a shot of fertilizer and see what happens. Maybe they just need some time to get established.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  20. Momma Fargo on March 29, 2010 at 12:25 am

    I left an award for you on my blog. Congrats!
    .-= Momma Fargo´s last blog ..Darryl and My Other Brother Darryl =-.

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  21. Gretchen on March 29, 2010 at 1:00 am

    Those look fascinating! I grow society garlic, which is a perennial form of green garlic, and it’s very easy. It grows in bunches and can be divided periodically to spread it. It doesn’t form bulbs but the greens can be used like green garlic.

    Reply to Gretchen's comment

  22. Sylvie in Rappahannock on March 30, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    I was given a few Egyptian Walking Onions a few weeks ago. Really like the idea of perennial veggies. Besides the usual herbs, we grow sorrel, asparagus and sunchokes as perennial. Swiss chard (at least some cultivars) can also behave as short-lived perennial if you keep breaking tjhe flowering shoots and protect them in the winter. And mache behaves like a perennial since it’s always reseeding.
    .-= Sylvie in Rappahannock´s last blog ..The Taste Of Green =-.

    Reply to Sylvie in Rappahannock's comment

  23. Brittany Noel on March 30, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    My landlord has Egyptian onions planted throughout the bed in front of the house. I wondered if they were edible. How exciting! Did they taste good? I suppose it’s too late to eat them now, but we’ll definitely dig some up in the fall. I’m so glad you posted this!
    .-= Brittany Noel´s last blog ...so far. =-.

    Reply to Brittany Noel's comment

  24. [...] blogged earlier this spring about the potato onions I planted last fall. They’re kind of like shallots in that they multiply from a main bulb. I wasn’t sure how well [...]

    Reply to growing and harvesting potato onions | Chiot’s Run's comment

  25. Egyptian Walking Onions | Chiot's Run on April 4, 2011 at 4:46 am

    [...] but many people don’t realize you can buy perennial onions and leeks as well. I planted these Egyptian Walking Onions 2 years ago along with some perennial potato onions (which aren’t technically perennial because [...]

    Reply to Egyptian Walking Onions | Chiot’s Run's comment

  26. Lindsay Wilkinson on April 12, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Hi. I’m new to your blog & poking around. As of this spring we’ve incorporated egyptian walking onions into our garden. I’m curious your update on yours two years later!

    Reply to Lindsay Wilkinson's comment

    • Susy on April 12, 2012 at 11:14 pm

      They’re GREAT we love them. I’ll definitely have to write an update to encourage more people to grow them.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  27. Dave Durgan on September 2, 2013 at 12:49 pm

    I live in Nevada(Tahoe area) high desert and I have struggle growing many things Egyptian Walking Onions where given to me by a stranger. They just grow so easily it is amazing.

    Reply to Dave Durgan's comment

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