I would like to introduce what I have been working on regarding green onions. I have to admit I have not taken the time to delve deep in the literature on green onions so I could be making a mistake. Regardless, I have enjoyed it so far.
I love to cut the bottoms of store bought green onions and stick them in the ground. That’s what happened with the bigger green onions in the picture. I like to shop at different stores, hoping to get a different variety each time. Planting grocery store onion stems helped keep in entertained in the garden when the cold kept most activities unavailable.
The tiny ones in the image are on from bought seed. I have attached an image of my seed packets.
Some of the confirmed varieties are:
Evergreen Long White
Tokyo Long White
I love to snack on them while working in the garden or taking as needed for a meal topping.
Not to cause confusion, but I have also attached an image of a store-bought leek that I stuck the discarded stem in the ground back in late December. It looks like a seed bulb or flower trying to form.
That’s great. I’ve done the same but with only a couple of store bought green onions. After learning that in bulbing onions most commercially grown varieties have cytoplasmic male sterility I worried that I was introducing this trait with the store bought green onions. When they flowered I looked carefully and luckily they were producing pollen so I left them to it.
I grow onions mostly for use as green onions rather than for harvesting and storing larger bulbs. I’ve planted a number of what’s described as bunching onions as well as lots of other kinds including potato onions and lots of store-bought onions. I started doing that long before I ever heard of CMS but have never really noticed a problem with it. If I remember right Joseph mentioned somewhere, sometime that CMS in alliums wasn’t durable, that it sort of went away on its own, but I don’t remember exactly why or how. In any event it hasn’t been an obvious problem for me.
I plant onion seeds in late summer, or sometimes more or less whenever they mature and seed themselves. Only issue with that is they usually have to be regularly watered until cooler weather arrives. I also plant store bought bulbs then too. I’m trying with some success to make a race of winter hardy, self-sustaining onions that can just be harvested fresh as green onions, almost any time of the year.
Several years ago, I found some onions growing in a creek bed and best I can determine they are Allium canadense. They are tiny little things but have the most delicious allium flavor I’ve ever tasted. They both bloom and mature seeds and make little bulbils and they are extremely winter hardy. They die down and go dormant in hot weather.
This winter I discovered what might be a hybrid in them as I have a few plants with bluish colored leaves. I only brought home a few of those I originally found so doubt, even if they did already have some genetic diversity that I had enough of them to obtain it in those few. So, fingers crossed that they mixed up with some f my other onions. If I could get that flavor into some larger sized bulbs that would be really nice.
That would be very cool if you were able to get a hybrid with the A canadense in your mix. Everyone I’ve known who’s tried them has a different opinion on the flavor, but I think it has a lot of potential for diverse genetics and flavors.
What do they say about the flavor? It’s always delicious to me but sometimes I can’t tell if it tastes like onion or garlic. Some of the internet search results call it garlic. Some show it with white flowers but mine has lavender flowers. When I first found it, I wasn’t sure it even was an allium, but I don’t know what else makes those little top sets and it smelled so good, (although not sure if onion or garlic), I had to taste it. No ill effects resulted so I ate some more. I love it.
I’ve heard it described as skunky, sulferous, insipid, and “off”. On the other hand, I’ve also heard it called garlicky, buttery, complex, and refined. My son came across some choking up a huge mountain meadow and called them the best thing he’d ever tasted, but he’d also been hiking mountain peaks all day, which I think affects your appetite and food perceptions.
Anyway, I’ve long thought that it would be nice to see if this one and a number of other wild onions could be incorporated into breeding grexes. Many of them have enhanced rot resistance or other useful traits, besides the flavor possibilities.
I was once a member of a gang of filthy savages that beat a poor rattlesnake to death with sticks, having lost nearly all of our food to a bear a couple days before, it was the best thing I ever ate.
When it comes to the flavor of these onions, garlic or whatever they are I’m in the complex, refined and utterly delicious camp. When I search them on the internet lots of photos come up, none of which look exactly like the ones I have. Maybe that explains the differences on how people perceive them. They don’t make a tremendous amount of seeds, but I have a nice little patch going so should have some to share later this year.
I have never seen an actual flower on any of the other wild onions in my area.
It’s funny that you mention a snake. I was pulling out black eyed Susan and other wildflowers out of an unruly bed this afternoon and stumbled on the mean looking dude in the attached picture. Unfortunately, I discovered he had legs after I put the shovel to him.
I expect I will end up with some extras to spare and I will. In the meantime, I found some pictures of them from when I first found them. Lucky they were at this stage at the time, or I would never have noticed them. They were growing in a dry sand bar in a creek called Bloody Run, so I guess they are Bloody Run onions. How they got there and survived there I have no clue because there are times when that sand bar is anything but dry. This was in 2017 and I’ve grown them from seed and bulbils since then.
My son found them in a mountain valley in early spring when the surrounding areas were covered in snow and the valley was full of running water, which intrigued me as well. We did a lot of study to zero in on what species we thought it was, but it wasn’t blooming and he didn’t think to bring me any
While I was also amused by the name Bloody Run onions, it’s not a very good marketing name, is it?
Anyways, I have decided to plant a bunch of tomatoes in this bed. I went ahead and pulled out the best 46 onions, cut off their tops and pruned their roots so they look like roots you see on grocery store onions. Then I transplanted those inside the pots seen below.
I saved 4 grocery store onions and put them on the ends. The rest are seeded by me. For the grocery store onions, if they manage to go to flower again, I will probably not save seeds from them. I will let them be the male pollen donator if they have functional male parts. Otherwise, since I am not saving seed from the onions on the ends, I don’t see how this would cause an issue for the entrance of male cms genes in this landrace.
Every green onion I have tried so far manages to be tough and easy to grow for me here in South MS. I wonder if this project is pointless since it’s so easy. I enjoying sharing what I am working on regardless. I hope someone gets something out of this.