onions and garlic, in frugal perpetuity
INVESTMENTS MAY DIMINISH OR EVEN DISAPPEAR, but the best edible alliums march bravely onward, proliferating as they go. I’m taking comfort in plants with that kind of potential for perpetuity right now, especially edible ones. So I was happy when my springtime order of multiplier onions arrived last week, and that I’d set aside the best of this year’s garlic harvest for replanting as my 2009 crop. If all else fails, I will at least be well-seasoned.
I’ve never grown multiplier onions before, an oldtime favorite I pre-ordered in March from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, which offers them for fall arrival. I haven’t found much consistent information about growing the so-called potato onions, particularly in the North, except for Southern Exposure’s fact sheet, which says to save half the bulbs for springtime planting in case the winter’s too hard for them. Sounds a little ominous, but here I go.
In my cold area, I’m meant to give them up to 5 inches of soil on top of their pointed ends (only 1 inch or 2 in warmer zones), then scrape some of it away come spring, as they prefer to be closer to the surface in the growing season. As with garlic, shallots and other alliums, the bulbs want fertile, well-drained soil and a sunny location to be happiest.
I’d welcome any insights or war stories if you’ve grown multiplier onions, which are also sold by Territorial Seed in Oregon.
I’m far more confident with garlic, particular basically foolproof varieties like ‘German Extra-Hardy,’ with its large cloves and super-tough disposition.
As I say in the current “Chores” column (updated monthly in the sidebar column of every blog page), replant your biggest cloves from heads of harvested garlic for best yield, or hurry and order a supply, to plant ideally about a month before frost is in the ground. Mine went in last week.
Prepare a sunny spot, and plant each clove 1-2 inches deep and 6 inches apart in the row, with about 12 inches between rows. Green growth will happen this fall, which is great; don’t panic. It’s a hardy thing. Now as for those potato onions, only time will tell.