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When can I harvest the tops of the topset onions I have planted? They are looking reddish and bending over the stalks. How do I store them and/or plant them once I have harvested them? Can I also eat the bulb that is under the soil?

Thanks! Jill.
 

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you will have a hard time finding extensive info online. there is just not much that pops up on a search. it is also my hope that folks who give advise could take the time to think about all of the possible questions we rookies have. there are so many questions with these plants.

my questions were...

will they survive year to year if i do nothing? from the same bulb? will it divide?

can i plant the topsets mid-season for the hope of another crop of topset bulbs? if i do and they don't mature, will they return from the same bulb the next spring just as if i had planted them in the fall?

when i harvest topsets, is it ok that they have long sprouts growing from them? will they still cure for a planting in the fall...or for sharing to others? should i be harvesting topsets before they sprout?

i harvested some bulbs after i harvested the topsets and the bulbs were ok to eat.
 

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Jillis said:
When can I harvest the tops of the topset onions I have planted? They are looking reddish and bending over the stalks. How do I store them and/or plant them once I have harvested them? Can I also eat the bulb that is under the soil?

Thanks! Jill.
You can remove the topsets now. Divide them into individual bulblets and let them dry in an airy shaded area. After they've had a week or so of rest, plant some back for fall scallions. Save the rest for planting in September for spring onions.

The bulbs under mature plants are usually too tough for eating. They are no different than a regular onion which has gone to seed. Cut the old stem off an inch or so above the bulb and it will come back right away as multiple plants.

Martin
 

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in all seriousness martin, you should put up a web page on walking onions...perhaps onions in general. there honestly wasn't much info when i searched the web. i know you answered my topset questions, i just always seem to have lots of questions, lol. i thought maybe others could benefit from my "denseness".
 

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MELOC said:
will they survive year to year if i do nothing? from the same bulb? will it divide?
Yes, they will survive but become more and more crowded until they are as thick as grass and nothing but a lot of single leaf. Bulbs will keep dividing but not enough nutrients to support them.

can i plant the topsets mid-season for the hope of another crop of topset bulbs? if i do and they don't mature, will they return from the same bulb the next spring just as if i had planted them in the fall?
There's usually not enough time to get two crops of topsets in a single season. Anything planted now will only produce scallions and green onions by fall. For certain, they will produce topsets next spring.

when i harvest topsets, is it ok that they have long sprouts growing from them? will they still cure for a planting in the fall...or for sharing to others? should i be harvesting topsets before they sprout?
Leave the tops on those and they will probably remain green for several months. Then they may be planted as if they were plants which simply don't have roots. They usually quickly become a large plant.

i harvested some bulbs after i harvested the topsets and the bulbs were ok to eat.
Some of the mature plants of Heritage Sweets may produce a "nest" of 5 or 6 bulbs similar to normal shallot growth. Catawissas and Egyptians usually divide just once or twice and those that split off the main bulb are tender and are used for green cooking onions.

Martin
 

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thanks again martin...you da man!

and thanks for the garlic and info as well. i harvested mine this week and was very pleased. your variety grew to be the largest of them all. i only sampled one type and am not sure of which it was for certain as my diagram of those beds was errant. i think i sampled the schumacher...and it was mild and sweet roasted and served with potatoes. i now have a walking onion and garlic bug, lol. i will increase the size of the beds of all varieties of both. i even plan to get an italian heirloom garlic brought to this country several generations ago as i have inlaws in ohio that have been growing it for generations.

thanks again.
 

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What a timely thread! I am trying Egyptian Walking Onions this year and frankly haven't a clue what to do with them. There isn't much info on them online at all, and gardening books usually don't mention them.

Paquebot said:
Leave the tops on those and they will probably remain green for several months. Then they may be planted as if they were plants which simply don't have roots. They usually quickly become a large plant.
I think ALL my topsets have little green sprouts coming out of them and have had since they emerged from their protective little capsule thing.

Can I plant these bulbils (with the green sprouts) in the fall? Will they go dormant and be okay until spring?

Or should I plant them now and let them make scallions and then... what? Leave them so the tops die down and they make tops next spring?

And, here is a really dumb question...
How do you use walking onions? What I mean is, when do you use the bulb, and how do you store them? Do you use the bulbils too or just save them for planting next year's crop?
 

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turtlehead said:
I think ALL my topsets have little green sprouts coming out of them and have had since they emerged from their protective little capsule thing.
That's normal for the Catawissa and Egyptians. The topsets are therefore ready to begin growing as soon as they touch the ground.

Can I plant these bulbils (with the green sprouts) in the fall? Will they go dormant and be okay until spring?
If removed and separated, they will sit there and do nothing until planted. With hundreds of Catawissas left over from last summer, they were left in a box in the garden shed. A year later, almost all still have nice lively green shoots on them. Also, they can dry down to virtually no sign of life and pop right back as soon as they find water. (Does not apply to Heritage Sweet secondary topsets which quickly dry out and die.)

Or should I plant them now and let them make scallions and then... what? Leave them so the tops die down and they make tops next spring?
Whatever you plant now would produce scallions yet this summer and fall or spring onions next spring. (Spring onions being those green onions which have about an inch bulb and chopped up for cooking.)

And, here is a really dumb question...
How do you use walking onions? What I mean is, when do you use the bulb, and how do you store them? Do you use the bulbils too or just save them for planting next year's crop?
Walking onions can be used for eating and cooking just like any other onion except for slicing. Remember that onions were originally grown for their ability to prevent scurvy. Size didn't matter. Walking onions will produce scallions, green onions, small bulbs, and the topsets were the original pickled onions. Egyptians and Catawissas may produce topsets as large or larger than some shallots, better than an inch across and worth the time to peel them. Some of Heritage Sweets are perfect size for cocktail onions.

Finally, remember that regular onions as we know them, grown from seed, have barely been around about 100 years. Prior to that, all garden onions were multipliers.

Martin
 

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Martin, you are such a wealth of information. This is so helpful to me! I wasn't sure how to go about perpetuating my crop, and was afraid I'd kill them. It's very interesting reading the history, too.

If I understand you correctly, I can EITHER use the bulb in the spring while it's small, OR I can let it mature and produce bulbils, but not both. Is that correct?
 

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turtlehead said:
If I understand you correctly, I can EITHER use the bulb in the spring while it's small, OR I can let it mature and produce bulbils, but not both. Is that correct?
That is correct. Topsets planted this summer will be big enough to eat as raw scallions in the fall. When they resume growth in the spring, the bulb size will increase and larger leaves will form. That is then used as a spring onion. Simply plant more than you need to assure having plenty of topsets.

Note: Spring onions that you buy are seldom walking onions anymore. Now they are more often the second thinning of a large bulbing type.

Martin
 

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Discussion Starter #13
That's ok---I learn more this way, too!

Thanks again, Martin!

I love the topsets, they look like something that is colonizing the earth from a distant planet.

I love all onions and garlic as well!

Blessings, Jill!
 
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