Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Top, Topset, Top Setting, Air, Tree or Egyptian Walking Onions

I'm having a bash at the All year Alliums Challenge 2016/17 on the Grow Your Own Grapevine forum, I have my three varieties of over winter onions in and I have recently received my everlasting onions and potato onions from Norfolkgray on the Grow Your Own Grapevine forum

I really fancy having a go at the Tree Onions Botanical Name: Allium cepa proliferum Common Names: Tree Onions, Top Onions, Topset Onions, Top Setting Onions, Walking Onions, Egyptian Walking Onions, Air Onions 

it is perennial and provides a crop for the kitchen all year round and is prolific in a unique way – it grows its new generation of baby onions at the top of its stalks, where the flowers ought to be. At the top of a 3ft hollow leaf stalk, the walking onion develops an apple-sized topset of papery bulbs, like tiny shallots. These mature and turn purplish-red during summer, shedding their paper covering and sending out small roots and shoots of their own, until the plant is carrying a lump of vegetable life high above the bed.

Then the stem dies and breaks, the lump comes crashing to earth and the bulbils break free and scatter. If they hit good soil, they root and start the process again. In a year or two, you’ll have Egyptian walking onions all over.

As the plants stumble onwards, you might, according to many gardeners, find yourself with an embarrassment of onions. There will be green onion shoots or scallions in late winter, picked as they punch their way up through the snow. There will be side bulbs developed a month or two later alongside the mother bulb, just like more familiar spring onions on the supermarket shelf. And there will be those aerial bulblets from the “flower head” in summer.

The top sets or bulbils are an ideal size for pickling or chopping into salads. The onion greens can be used just like spring onions The mature onions are tender and can be used raw or cooked like normal onions.

I have just ordered 30 Walking onions from treeonions.com who sell off their website or as I found them on ebay the cost per onion works out

10 bulbs £4.99 = 50p each
20 bulbs £7.99 = 40p each
30 bulbs £9.99 = 33p each

As a thank you for my blog about him, Ian has informed me that If you let Ian know that you found him via me Quote "Cadalot" and you order directly from his web site, he will send you 20% more onions than you ordered.

There is a great deal of information about Walking Onions, how to grow them and the history and photographs on Ian's website  treeonions.com, and it's well worth a look.

Update on the Onion Experiment from the last view from the greenhouse door

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