Saturday, April 25, 2015

Egyptian "Walking" Onion Harvest

I just had to have some onion for today’s salad, so I dug the first of this spring’s perennial Egyptian ‘Walking’ ones. Stems averaged about ⅜ of an inch in diameter, and they were just a little tough, so they had to be cut into quite small pieces to avoid adding an unpleasant texture to the salad; but they tasted delicious!

Egyptian onions have extensive, succulent root systems. Even these early ones required a good bit of tugging on a digging fork with tines pressed at least 8” into the soil to pull them out.  Shown here are the roots from just one stem; the root mass for these six closely spaced stems was a tangled ball about 10 inches in diameter. For the person patient enough to wash them carefully and snip them into tiny bits, or better, to puree them in a blender, the roots can add a wonderful spicy flavor to an otherwise bland salad dressing.

So, you ask, how can I grow these earliest of delectables?  See for a summary. I honestly don’t recall where I got my original start of these perennial onions, but if you’re reading this, you can do a quick online search for information.

Plant the bulbils (top setting “seed” starts something like the “sets” you can buy everywhere this time of year) in the fall, and harvest just a few in the spring but let the remainder grow another year. By the following spring, you’ll have a nice onion patch like this:

Harvest what you wish, but leave some for the future. By mid-summer, your onion patch will have clusters of bulbils atop each plant:

By early autumn, these will have matured and may even send out shoots on which additional bulbils will form. At this time, the largest of the bulbils can be harvested for pickling, or for the luscious flavor they’ll add to soups or stews.

As winter approaches, the top stems will die and fall to the ground, allowing bulbil clusters to touch the soil up to a couple feet from their parent plant stems. There a new plant will be seen to have ‘walked’ to its new location. Are these bulbils hardy in northern climates, you ask?  The average February temperature  in my region was just over 9 degrees F, but here’s a bulbil cluster that lay on the ground all winter, now sending forth roots and shoots.
By next spring, a new bunch of tasty green onions will have grown at this spot!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


Far out west, that is, there’s a blog with an accompanying site worth a long look, wherever your garden aspirations may lie.  Los Angeles? If, like me, you live in Michigan, that’s like another planet, huh? But raising food plants from seed indoors and getting them ready to plant outdoors is pretty much the same around the world; indoor climates aren’t generally all that different from one place to another.

For an accurate, well presented, and beautifully illustrated series of articles on nurturing many types of food garden plants from beginning to end, start with the link: and click on garden-of-eatin’.  The ‘Garden Betty’ is Linda Ly. The remainder of Linda’s site and the accompanying blog are generally entertaining, but it’s the almost universally applicable garden how-to that I’ve found worthwhile.  I’ve looked hard for any serious bits of bad advice in Linda’s articles and have found nothing worth exercising my specialty (nitpicking) upon. I take a few extra steps in sanitizing my indoor plant-raising operation and have a few additional tips, some of which are or will be buried in the METHODS & MATERIALS section of this blog; but Linda’s quality photography and text give very workable alternatives for most food garden activities.

Another tip for the day: Michigan Master Gardener Volunteer Whitney Miller is developing an extensive annotated map of community gardens, both food and ornamental ones including school gardens, in Northwest Lower Michigan. See:  The site includes links to the local Master Gardener Association and many others related to the Master Gardener Volunteer program coordinated by the Michigan State University Extension. Numerous opportunities to volunteer and to learn are available throughout our area!
Onions from a local community garden destined for a food pantry serving families in need