Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Walk like an Egyptian (Onion)

Pyramids at Giza

I was reading an article by Mark Diacono about growing perennial veg.

Now this seems like a great idea - instead of spending ages raising all your veg from seed each year - only to have to do it all again next year... you could grow perennials. Plant once and reap the benefit for many years.

It has made me rethink what I should grow on my new allotment. One of the plants he recommended  was the Egyptian walking onion. They are also known as tree onions, top onion or air onions and in Japan they are called Kitsune Negi meaning foxy or mysterious onions.

Now these are strange characters.

Usually with onions you grow them by seed or sets. Sometimes they flower, but mostly they will multiply at the base by producing more bulbs. However, Egyptian walking onions produce bulbils where the flowers should be. When the bulbils get too heavy, the onion stalk keels over and the bulbils, now at ground level, start to take root.

Just for novelty value I had to get some and give them a try. They weren't that easy to find in the UK. But luckily ebay came up trumps.

I bought  ten plants for £10. This included: 

Moritz Egyptian Onion

Catawissa Onion

McCullar's White Topset Onion
I'm still digging and preparing the allotment for next year and want to keep them safe until things are ready. So, once they arrived I potted them up into individual coir pots and popped them in a corner of the garden until the beds are ready on the allotment.

Safe in their own coir pots

It isn't easy to find any in-depth info about these onions. So, it is going to be a bit of an experiment. However, Google books came up with some background info in an interesting book by Ernest Small. (see below)

Culinary herbs

 By Ernest Small, National Research Council Canada

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