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Alliums All Year

June 20th, 2012

Here at Chiot’s Run we LOVE onions and eat alliums of some form almost every day. There’s no way I would ever have enough room to grow a large enough patch of bulb onions that we could eat all year long. It would also be hard to be able to store the onions for as long as we would need to.

As a result I’ve been learning to grow and love other alliums like leeks, bunching onions, potato onions, scallions, shallots, potato onions, and perennial leeks. Most of these alternative alliums fill in the time between the last onion from the pantry and the first bulb onion harvest from the garden. I’m happy to report that since last spring we’ve been able to use our homegrown alliums almost exclusively.

This year I’m growing a few different types of long storing onions trying to find one that stores the longest.

Here are the types I’m growing:
‘Copra’ – Uniform, “rock-hard” storage onion with early maturity. These medium-sized, dark yellow-skinned storage onions have the preferred blocky round shape with thin necks that dry quickly. Firmness and skin are superior. Copra remains one of the best in our yearly storage trials, staying firm and flavorful after most other varieties have sprouted. Highest in sugar (13°-14°) of the storage onions. Adaptation: 38°-55° latitude. (source of seeds and plants: Johnny’s Seeds)

This variety was recommended by many of you and a few local friends. I started seeds in January and transplanted them to the garden in March. I also direct seeded them in the garden in March as well. One bunch of plants arrived in mid-April and they were planted shortly thereafter. The reason behind the three different growing methods is to see which ones size up the best and store the longest. There will definitely be another bog post or two about this.

‘Red Zeppelin’ – Medium to large, globe-shaped bulbs with deep red color. Red Zeppelin will store for six months or more under proper conditions. Adaptation: 38°-45° latitude. (source of seeds and plants: Johnny’s Seeds). I planted 3 bunches of these in mid-April the day they arrived and have high hopes for them because we love red onions and it can be difficult to find long storing varieties.

‘Stuttgarter’ – The old standby for yellow storage onions from sets. 2”- 3” diameter bulbs are flat bottomed and have a nice strong flavor. Excellent storage into June. For the best yields, plant as soon as the ground can be worked. (source: Maine Potato Lady) This variety of onion is raved about by Gertrud Franck in the book Companion Planting: Successful Gardening the Organic Way which I’m thoroughly enjoying right now.

‘Red Baron’ – A really nice red onion with flavor not too pungent. Great raw in salads and sandwiches. Though not as large or high-yielding as Stuttgarter, Red Baron is a nice addition to your onion bin. I’ve experienced good storage, easily into May. (source: Maine Potato Lady)

My hope is with all these different varieties our onion baskets in the pantry will still be providing bulb onions until the ‘Forum’ onions I talked about yesterday are ready to harvest. I most certainly will be happy if I can be eating caramelized onions and potatoes from the pantry next May!

What’s your favorite way to eat onions?

15 Comments to “Alliums All Year”
  1. daisy on June 20, 2012 at 8:33 am

    I put onions in almost every savory dish we eat. Carmelized are yummy, but I think I’m too impatient to get them just right. ;0)
    Your crops look absolutely stunning! I hope to try growing leeks again this fall, as they are a favorite.

    Reply to daisy's comment

  2. Peggy on June 20, 2012 at 9:34 am

    I love onions caramelized! OKay now to ask you some questions… how do you store your onions? We have limited storage… an unheated, non-insulated garage and the crawl space under the house with an access panel in the master bedroom walk-in closet. In passing I was talking to someone recently who mentioned using the crawl space. It gets cold but does not freeze (or else our pipes would burst!) Do you think it would work? Maybe cut a pallet in 1/2 and place under the opening, and use bushel/peck baskets? I would appreciate any ideas or suggestions you might be able to offer! I must admit you truly are a wealth of information and I have printed off so much to keep in my reference notebook. Thank you for taking the time to share with us! Have a great day!

    Reply to Peggy's comment

    • Susy on June 20, 2012 at 10:05 am

      I’ve heard of people creating root cellar spots in unheated garages and crawl spaces. If you choose to do one in the garage you can surround your vegetables with bales of straw. I have friends that store their potatoes all winter in their barns this way. I’d highly recommend reading Root Cellaring: Natural Cold Storage of Fruits & Vegetables – it should give you some great ideas on how to turn your crawl space into a root cellar.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Peggy on June 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm

        Thank you so very much! I am going to see if we can do an interlibrary loan for Root Cellaring….

        to Peggy's comment

      • KimH on June 21, 2012 at 6:06 am

        When my grandparents were alive, they lived in the sub-tropics (lots of heat & little cold), and they stored their field onions by hanging a large net flat across the ceiling of their garage and put the onions in that. It resembled some of the childrens toy nets you see. It would be full across the garage, and they’d take 5 or 6 at a time to the house.
        I’ve always heard onions need a lot of air circulation.

        to KimH's comment

  3. Misti on June 20, 2012 at 9:39 am

    I was very pleased with our onion harvest this year, our first time growing onions. We grew Texas 1015 Super Sweet and Yellow Granex. Loved them—we have 3.5 crates full of them!

    Reply to Misti's comment

  4. Annette @ CoMo Homestead on June 20, 2012 at 9:48 am

    I’m still figuring out how to grow onions. Last year I grew a long-day type that didn’t bulb well, so this year I’m trying short-day instead. But the area where the onions are growing has gotten overshadowed by the potatoes next to them which are ENORMOUS, so I will have to try again next year.

    Reply to Annette @ CoMo Homestead's comment

  5. Louise on June 20, 2012 at 9:57 am

    Can’t cook without Onions. Onions are in just about every dish I make, and have great medicinal benefits. Here is a link to a long storing red Onion. It is a short-day variety. Where I live, I plant them in the garden in Oct., where they overwinter just like Garlic. I have had real success with growing this variety.

    Reply to Louise's comment

  6. Janet Anderson on June 20, 2012 at 10:27 am

    I love you blog and read it as soon it comes up on my reader! :-) I am just building an urban garden in Winnipeg Manitoba which will be mixed flowers and edibles and hopefully relaxing and productive!

    Thank you for all the advice, shared mishaps and photos. You mention your pantry above and I ahve seen the photos of your canning section. Could you share photos of how you store your root veggies like the onions.

    I have what is called a 3/4 basement – it is unfinished and about 3/4 of size of the footprint of the house. It has crawl spaces in all directions (which I plan to have blown insulation put in) and is a stone foundation. Luckily I have a cold room – I am scared to investigate it as I fear it is home to many spiders! LoL If you have advice for setting up a pantry/cold room I would love to hear it. It is a very steep set of stairs going down (house built in 1913) so any shelving would have to go unassembled. I have a set of stainless shelves in my kitchen that I love…and would consider adding them downstairs too.

    Thanks for everything (including telling us about Ethel Gloves)

    Janet in Winnipeg

    Reply to Janet Anderson's comment

    • Susy on June 20, 2012 at 10:38 am

      I know what you mean about the cold room. We had a proper root cellar in the house I grew up in. It was located under the porch and had a gravel floor – we were terrified to go in it to get jars of food when we were kids.

      That’ll be your best spot for storing veg & canned goods. I store most of our pantry items in our unheated basement. It’s not the best location as it’s just slightly too warm (55 instead of 50) and doesn’t have quite enough humidity (veggies like the humidity for long storing). I do have pretty good luck storing onions/garlic down there. The potatoes stay in the garage until the very cold part of winter. They’re stored in terracotta pots with the saucers on top and surrounded with straw bales. This works nicely for them.

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • julie on June 20, 2012 at 10:42 am

        You should do a post on storage… :) I know there are many resources out there but I need to get good ideas for basement/rowhome/urban storage of my first crop of garlic !

        to julie's comment

  7. Maybelline on June 20, 2012 at 10:39 am

    I like mine with lettuce and tomato, Heinz 57 and French fried potatoes…

    Reply to Maybelline's comment

  8. Donna B. on June 20, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Loving these posts about onions! ♥
    I pretty much prepare onion daily as well… it goes so well with so many different types of cooking methods! I personally like mine in a stir-fry, cooked in either bacon fat or butter and tossed with rice and various other sundry from the gardens. Recently for dinner I made a mixed rice using beans saved from last year cooked into the rice, and then chopped up onion/kale/garlic chives/scapes/mustard greens/arugula/potato/bell pepper with a cooked egg on top. Mmmm. Hungry just thinking about it.
    I have yet to grow anything besides bunching types… but I’ve been tempted to try out sets to start – and the Egyptian Walking type!
    Based on what I’ve read from you, I’m going to try out that ‘Copra’ variety next year, definitely!

    Reply to Donna B.'s comment

  9. Rick on June 20, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    You will love Corpa onions. We have been growing them for our storage onions for 3 years now. They have a good flavor and they really do last a long time. Under ideal conditions they can last up to 10 months. We don’t have ideal conditions but our still stay fresh well into April. Then we slice what’s left up before they go bad and stick them in the freezer. We are still eating the crop we harvest last August!

    Reply to Rick's comment

  10. Mich on June 20, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    I use onions in almost every meal! I’ve just finished using up the last of my home grown shallots, luckily my autumn planted onions are just ready for pulling and using…yay. This year I am growing Stuttgarter, Red baron and Sturton. Shallots this year are Red Sun & Golden Gourmet.
    I will probably grow more autumn planted onions this year as am expanding one plots :)
    Home made onion rings are the bee’s knees.Yum.

    Reply to Mich's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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