What made my onions so hot?

mla2ofusDecember 7, 2013

I grew yellow skinned onions and had really good luck with them. Nice large ones and they are storing well also but they are so hot that they can not be used uncooked in or on anything. Did I water to much, too little, or what?

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Skybird - z5, Denver, Colorado

I can't answer your question, Mla2oufus, but I kinda hope somebody can! A few years ago the same thing happened to my eggplants! I never figured out what "went wrong," but they were way too hot to eat--at least for somebody who doesn't like stuff HOT! It's never happened again--and I'll always wonder what happened!


    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 2:13PM
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gjcore(zone 5 Aurora Co)

Possibly they weren't watered steady enough. Onions have shallow roots so depending on soil conditions they need frequent watering.

    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 3:49PM
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I think Greg has it right. Water stress but I'm gonna suggest something else ~ right after we scramble in the eggplant . . . I think stress is a cause of bitterness in eggplants.

It used to be that I strongly suspected that purple eggplants were more likely than green or white eggplants to be bitter. Then, my entire eggplant team was attacked unmercifully and relentlessly by potato beetles. That garden was a narrow one right in the middle of a farm field. I couldn't do more than kill the beetles that were at hand and then find more on the plants within a day or 2. Not wanting to use a persistent bugkiller or spray every day - the beetles seriously damaged all the plants! All the fruit was bitter!

Now, those onions -- were they from sets, Mla2ofus? There are only a few varieties that are grown to produce sets. They must have excellent keeping qualities because the tiny things must be carried from one season to the next. Those qualities certainly don't belong to "sweet onions." Ebenezer and Stuttgarter are the ones I know about and, shoot, you can tell by the names . . . no, I don't suppose the names have anything to do with their "friendliness" . . .


    Bookmark   December 7, 2013 at 8:17PM
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Yes it was bulbs and I think your right, that is what caused the hotness. I don't mind the heat when I'm cooking them though it causes a few tears when I cut them. With my short summers that's the only way I'll get storage onions. Thanks for the information.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 9:16AM
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I am back to try to talk you into trying shallots, Mla2ofus.

The only thing a person could have against them is their fairly low productivity. That, and I guess, some US gardeners are too far south to grow them very successfully. They like long days . . . From sets, they will be out of the ground by August.

Their flavor . . . you'll laugh . . . you'll cry . . . it'll all be good . . .


    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 10:47AM
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david52 Zone 6

Uneven watering would be my guess. Once the onions get going, try mulching them heavily to help keep the moisture in the soil.

This past summer, in spite of the mulch, I still had to water mine every 3-4 days.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 12:53PM
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I will make sure to mulch them next year and see if that helps, Thanks david52 for the heads up about that.
Digit, I have never had a shallot to my knowledge. I looked them up and all I found was they were milder and much smaller. How do they compare to onions for flavor and do they keep well? How do you use them?

    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 5:57PM
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Mla2ofus, shallots are milder than some onions, not all. They are milder than garlic.

I use shallots with onions, sometimes. Garlic flavor will over-power them so those 2 won't be sharing a saute pan.

Shallots seem real special to me. They are "different" than onions. If you use them while still growing, the green shallot can replace green onions. Not having gained all their unique flavor, they will taste just about the same as a green onions. I finally realized that it wasn't so smart to eat them like that! Wait a few more weeks and harvest the bulbs - much more value to bulbs.

They keep better than any onion. I have them in my garage right now - it is freezing in there. I have had shallots in my garage every winter for the last 20 years. They are fine.

If you want to try them, I'll suggest starting with seeds since the sets can be so expensive. Save some bulbs and plant those the following year. Don't eat all of your shallots the 1st winter! Okay, you can, if'n you really like 'em. Growing from seed just means that you will have a little more trouble with weed competition and the harvest will not be like the 1st week of August for you. They will pretty much need the full growing season to make bulbs from seed.


    Bookmark   December 8, 2013 at 7:35PM
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Okay, you've convinced me. I know I'll have to go with seed as Idaho has a restriction on onion bulbs of any kind and they are really hard to find. I can only find them in one nursery, so I imagine shallots are the same.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2013 at 8:47AM
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david52 Zone 6

Has anyone determined what variety of shallots work best for us poor gardeners down at lower latitudes, not you spoiled people up in Washiington/Idaho/Montana?

    Bookmark   December 9, 2013 at 2:43PM
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David, I thought there might be an easy answer to that.

I found a National Gardening article that said the Atlas variety was a good choice in short-day areas. I can't find it available. The Bonilla ~ also suggested ~ is a "potato onion." Whatever they are?

Shallots & potato onions are sub-species of the regular ol' bulb onion so, they may have similar qualities. I think we need some shallot varieties from Thailand & SE Asia.

who used to wonder how walla walla would not be short-day onions since the parents are from corsica in the mediterranean. then, he checked the latitude of that island: 42o.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 9:09AM
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david52 Zone 6

Ok, looking around, there is a variety Allium cepa aggregatum aka "atlas Shallot" aka potato onion.

Which might be worth a try -

Here is a link that might be useful: next year maybe

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 4:18PM
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treebarb Z5 Denver

Skybird and I went on a shopping expedition to the Flower Bin in Longmont 2 weeks ago as their flower, onion and garlic bulbs were 50% off. I bought a small pack of Dutch Yellow Shallot bulbs from Irish Eyes and planted them November 29th. Should I have waited and planted them in spring? If so, I guess the damage is done. When do you plant yours, digit?

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 8:18AM
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Always in the spring, Barb.

But, that doesn't mean anything other than that I can do it. They are harvested and it never occurs to me to take them back to the garden before spring.

As best as I understand, gardeners in cold zones should wait for spring. Warmer winter areas -- treat shallots like garlic. I'm not sure that they are any less hardy than garlic, anyway.


    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 12:31PM
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