Tuesday, November 24, 2009

2009 Overview Alliums

This year I grew bunching onions, leeks, garlic, yellow storage onions, and red torpedo onions. I'm going to take them one at a time.

Nabechan bunching onions

I'll do the best first. The Nabechan bunching onions seemed to love this year. They were multiseeded early on 2/21 with about four seeds to a cell. They all came up on 2/25; were hardened off starting on 3/13; and planted on 3/25 and 3/28. So they had about a month of indoor growing, but only under the LED lights that were so dim. They were pretty small when they went out, but did well over the season. I picked them all summer long and they are still a few left out there. Right now they are about an inch wide at the base. The current harvest is at 2.4 lbs and with I think three or four huge ones left I have 12-16oz more. I loved the planting and will do it again. Multiplanting worked well for them if they were given space. Single plantings work better if I put them between the lettuce as I often do. Bunching onions for me don't get their own spot in the garden, they just get scattered around here and there. Some multiplants got too big as time went on. I dug them up and separated them before planting again (not easy late in the game as their roots tangle). They sulked for a couple of weeks then took off again.

Lincoln Leeks

The leeks were not happy this year. They were very stressed out. Seeded: 1/23. Germinated: 1/31-2/4. Transplanted: 3/27 six inches apart in a trench. I picked the first half in during the beginning of October and the second half is still in the ground. A 1'x3' section gave me only 1.1 lbs of leeks. This is a pretty crappy yield. Part of the problem is that a lot of the leeks had gone to seed. I had to throw a lot away. A leek's seed stalk is too though to eat. Though thinking back I should have saved them for stock since they would be good for that. They may have been planted too early. I was trying to get all the alliums out from under the lights that I needed for other things. Next year I need more lights so I won't have space issues. However the issue might have been weather related. A lot of plants got stressed from the weather.

Tropea Onion

The Tropea onions (red torpedo onions) were not much loved. They didn't grow well, but they at least didn't try to bloom on me. Seeded: 1/15. Germinated: 1/22-1/29. Transplanted: 3/25. I didn't like their taste that much. So they won't be grown again. If I want a red onion, I'll just grow a regular one. This one was too hot. They produced 2.1 lbs from about 3 sqft. I multiplanted some and they don't seem to like it much. Most of the good onions I got were from singly planted onions. These and the Copras were planted 4" apart if singly planted and 6" apart if multiplanted.

Copra Onion

Copra onions are yellow storage onions high in sulfur but still with a high sugar content. So they are tasty little things. Sadly little is what they were this year. I've been told that this was a very bad onion year. Also they tried to bloom so those won't keep well. I'll eat them up first. My harvest was 3.9 lbs from about 6 sqft. I will grow them again. I loved their taste. Next year I'll start them a bit later. And like Tropea I won't multiplant. They were all seeded and transplanted on the same schedule as Tropea.


Last year I planted the garlic six inches apart at the end of October: German Extra Hardy, Georgian Crystal, Bogatyr, and an Unknown from the grocery store. Only one showed its head before the ground froze - my unknown grocery store variety. I mulched with 3-4 inches of hay. Over the winter it matted down and some of the garlic had trouble coming up. When the others were up I dug down looking for them. They were all scrunched up under the mulch. This year I planted with a compost mulch which should be easier on them. All the garlic survived the winter except the unknown. Two of the eight cloves of that variety didn't make it. I harvested early on July 3rd because I was afraid of rot with all the rain.


  • German Extra Hardy 1.2 lbs total - 1.5 oz per head
  • Georgian Crystal 0.5 lbs total - 1 oz per head
  • Bogatyr 1.1 lbs total - 1 oz per head
  • Unknown 0.6 lbs total - 1 oz if you count the dead cloves, 1.5 oz if you don't.

This year I didn't plant the Georgian Crystal again. It didn't get any bigger and others preformed better. Bogatyr is on notice. If it doesn't shape up, it will be replaced. Its seed cloves were really small when they were shipped to me. This year they were bigger. I hope they get even bigger this year.

So was it a good year for garlic? I haven't a clue. I got what I thought of as a good harvest. The supermarket variety was a softneck garlic. This year it turned into a hard necked garlic (it bloomed). It also didn't have its cloves in layers like the initial bulbs did. It had fewer but bigger bulbs. I'd say aliens came down and swapped them, but I have read that softnecks can turn into hardnecks when they are stressed. It could have been a bad year. They might hate the constant rain. Or they might be a southern variety that just doesn't do well here. Time will tell.


  1. Wow, Daphne - you had a pretty good harvest from the alliums. They may be small, but look picture-perfect.

  2. That box of garlic looks delicious!

  3. I wish my garlic looked half as good as yours! It was a disaster this year, totally infested with garlic rust. All the heads came out tiny. I'm cooking with it anyway, it tastes fine, just a pain to peel all those small cloves.

    Next year I want to try some cipollini onions. The small ones are lovely roasted or braised, like pearl onions but better.

  4. I think this year was my worst ever for onions. I don't know why, as growing conditions were typical. However, I was quite happy with my garlic.

  5. EG, They do look pretty. I wish they were a bit bigger and hadn't blossomed (at least the onions). They won't last the winter and won't store well. So far they seem fine though. Copra keeps so well.

    Fred, thanks.

    Michelle. I hate pealing small cloves. When I planted next years in October I only planted the big ones and ate the small ones. Luckily there weren't too many. I've heard of the cipollini onions but have never grown them (or tasted them). You will have to let us know how they fare.

    Granny, you had some really nice weather. I always wonder about that - when a crop does badly for now reason at all that you can fathom. It always frustrates me. I want to know why.

  6. What beautiful garlic and Copra onions. I hope I get as many alliums as you got at least!

    Thanks for the detailed report.

  7. Your garlic couldn't be more picture perfect! I just planted some albeit very late. Kind of interesting to know softneck can turn hard. I am going to hope for large onions again next year, maybe next year will be the year! I really love the look of the torpedo onions. I bet the strongness would be a good addition to canning and stewed foods.

  8. Daphne,
    Your garlic looks great. Your onions seemed to do ok if you ask me.

    We planted onion sets this year and got close to 10 lbs in a small patch, they were yellow onions and red onions both wonderful.
    My first time planting garlic about a month ago, most are nearly a foot tall right now. I got the garlic from the local farmers market and organic garlic (huge)from the food coop was planted last week.

  9. Stefaneener, I hope you do too. I just hope that you also get bigger ones.

    Dan, I'm always saying that too when something doesn't work quite right. Next year! The torpedo onions might well be good for things like stews. I was hoping for onions for things like salsa. They did make it into some of the pickles where they mellowed down a lot.

    Randy Emmitt, The onions look pretty but they are just tiny. I ought to have taken the photo with a quarter in it for perspective. Good luck on that garlic. I've found it a pretty easy crop to grow so far.

  10. My garlic crop was small this year for some reason (other than the elephant garlic that did beautifully. My onions were also on the small side - all of them - sweet and storage types. I was blaming myself for not fertilizing enough during their first several months of growth to encourage bigger top growth (which later translates into bigger bulb growth). However, now I am starting to wonder if it was just a bad year for the alliums and I should not over react to it.

    Like every one else - I think your box of garlic is superior looking. The copras look great too. About the same size my Copras ended up at as well.

  11. kitsapFG, I did side dress my onions this year, so I'm thinking just a bad year for us. The Copras are tasty even if small. I'm quickly running out though. My minestrone soup I made for Thanksgiving has two cups of diced onions in it which used a lot of those little things.

  12. Lincoln leeks are short-season leeks. They should have been harvestable in late summer-early fall. Maybe they didn't get enough nitrogen. Need a fairly rich soil.