Dateline: 20 August 2016 AD
|My first potato onion harvest.|
Back on April 23 of this year I wrote about potato onions (Rediscovering And Restoring The Multiplier Onion). Potato onions were something new to me and I was excited about the prospect of an onion that perpetuated itself, sort of like garlic does.
If I could grow onions every year without ever needing to buy sets or seed, that would be a great thing.
So I ordered a pound of potato onion sets from the Maine Potato Lady. And I spring-planted that pound in a garden bed. Here's what they looked like when they started growing...
Here's another view, as they got a little bigger...
It was a droughty year here, and I have a sandy-silty soil, and the bed was raised, and I never watered the potato onions, but they still grew surprisingly well.
It helped, I'm sure, that I did not space the bulbs too close when I planted them. And I kept the weeds out of the bed. And I maintained a shallow-cultivated "dust mulch."
Every bulb I planted (except one) grew into a cluster of onion bulbs. They aren't cloves, like you have in a garlic bulb. They are a bunch of individual bulbs that connect to a single root. It's remarkable.
Here's a picture of the bulbs as I harvested them...
As you can see from the picture at the top of this post, the bulbs range in size. None of them are really big. But some are a pretty good size. The one pound of seed bulbs I got from the Maine Potato Lady yielded 12 pounds of onions.
I was a little concerned that the potato onions might not taste like onions. But they do taste like onions. They are less sweet than the Copra onions I usually grow. But they have a true onion flavor. Marlene says they will work just fine for winter soups, which are a staple in our house.
I will choose out some of the larger, better-shaped potato onions for planting again in the spring. I'll still plant my favorite Copra onions but, based on this year's experience, these potato onions are something I expect to be growing for years to come.
I like to call these onions "peasant onions" because I can imagine that, back before there were mail-order seed companies and various hybrid onion varieties, these were the kind of onions that most rural people grew. They are a sustainable onion variety. You get yourself a pound or two of seed to start, and you can have onions for the rest of your life, without ever spending another cent.