Perpetual onions

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Perpetual onions

Postby merlin » Mon Nov 05, 2012 6:31 pm

Does anybody know anything about perpetual onions. A very dear friend of mine will be bringing me some out in April and I really want to keep them going. I understand that one peels them off as required? Any information on that one would be gratefully received.
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Re: Perpetual onions

Postby Thomzo » Mon Nov 05, 2012 8:53 pm

Hi
I grew one for the first time this year. It produced 3 tiny onionlettes at the top. Sadly they didn't really get to develop before the slugs got the main plant. I've planted the little onions and they're growing at the moment so I'm hoping to get better results next year.

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Re: Perpetual onions

Postby oldjerry » Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:00 pm

I think that there are a couple of types of onion which I 'd have thought were 'perennial',but it's confusing as they seem to be called different things in different places. I've grown Welsh Onions,which are like a perennial spring onion and sort of bunch up like Chives,and Tree onions which are like a small bunch of upside down onions they have have their bulbs at the top of the stem.Both varieties will benefit from a little protection over winter.To be honest,they're fun,but ,to me at least,onions are a necessity,and using Jap overwintering varieties,and different maincrop onions,including a really good keeper,should mean they're available from your own efforts all year round.
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Re: Perpetual onions

Postby diggernotdreamer » Mon Nov 05, 2012 10:20 pm

Here is a picture of my Egyptian or tree onions. They are very interesting, they 'walk' by forming bulbils at the top, when the tops get heavy they fall over and the collections of little bulbs plant themselves and start the process again. I really like them, they are useful as a spring onion and you can use the main bulb in cooking as well. They were a nice addition to the salad bowl and I think they have a use in my garden especially if your scallions or spring onions aren't doing very well, you can also use the small bulbs as pickled onions. I take off the heads and split all the little bulbs up and plant them out, they did do much better in the tunnel than outside. I
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Re: Perpetual onions

Postby safronsue » Tue Nov 06, 2012 5:07 am

walking onions, love it.
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Re: Perpetual onions

Postby oldjerry » Tue Nov 06, 2012 6:39 am

DND's excellent picture (God, how I wish I could do that!) illustrates the prob with tree onions:the thicker the stem,the smaller the bulb ,and because they aren't 100% hardy here,they,as DND says,benefit from a bit of protection,and this will inevitably encourage stem growth............(apologies for being a boring onion nerd......especially at 6.30 am,but it does take your mind off Mitt Romney.)
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Re: Perpetual onions

Postby Odsox » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:21 am

As you're a self confessed onion nerd OJ, could you tell me how to treat onions to store ?
I can grow them OK and if I grow them outside they never stop growing in autumn (they stay green even if I loosen the root) but if I grow them in my tunnel they do actually die down at the proper time. However (I like that word !), however even if I lay them out on wire netting frames in the greenhouse to ripen, they still all promptly rot within a month.
I gave up on them a few years ago and switched to shallots which did keep OK until this year, all of the ones I harvested have now all rotted.
Which points to climate, needing hotter summer weather I suppose, but I just wondered if there is a "trick" to it ?
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Re: Perpetual onions

Postby grahamhobbs » Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:41 pm

Odsox, I plant my onions at the beginning of March and lift them in August. This year it was the wettest and most dismal for many a long year, but my onions were fine and I expect them to keep until February or so. My shallots were however rubbish, with the majority rotten. So my experience seems to be the opposite of yours. I'm not convinced it is the weather, it might be but if you can ripen tomatoes, surely it is good enough for onions.
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Re: Perpetual onions

Postby oldjerry » Tue Nov 06, 2012 2:18 pm

Well, I'm not sure that is a weather prob per se.I've found that they keep best when lifted in ABSOLUTELY dry soil(that would tie in with them keeping when lifted from the tunnel) It allows them to dry better somehow.They simply WONT keep if the stems are in any way 'healthy' not described well,but checkout the above photo. Without doubt they want steady growth,not fits and starts brought on by weird summer weather like the last couple of years.You can water in the dry spells,but keeping them dry in the wet spells......?Planted from sets(I do both) you are giving yourself a better chance.
Most of all variety is numero uno: Love the taste of Bedfordshire Champion,but Sturon are by far the best keepers.
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Re: Perpetual onions

Postby GeorgeSalt » Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:08 pm

Odsox - I would not leave them to dry in a shed, greenhouse or polytunnel as they need a lot of air to dry. Airflow is far more important than temperature for drying onions (or anything). I suspect your onions are not really drying in the greenhouse.
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Re: Perpetual onions

Postby Odsox » Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:32 pm

Thanks everyone, so it may be that I'm blaming my climate unnecessarily, interesting. I suppose I started blaming the weather (instead of my growing technique) when I grew them outdoors and they just didn't stop growing, still green healthy tops in December even though I had "loosened" the roots which promptly regrew.
At least in the tunnel they DO show signs of stopping growth and I can then stop watering to assist them. But even these ones when also spread out on mesh in the greenhouse for a couple of weeks, I still can't seem to keep them longer than a couple of months ... certainly rotten well before the new year.
I'm now wondering if it's a cultural problem, and maybe I'm producing onions that are too soft due to some deficiency.
I'll certainly try again next year and pay more attention to pH and regular watering and see how I get on.
I didn't have any problem storing onions when I grew them in Kent, they would keep until they sprouted in the spring, so if it's not the climate then maybe it's the soil.
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