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Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

Posted by wertach 7b SC (My Page) on
Mon, Aug 13, 12 at 12:01

I have grown them on and off over the years. IMHO They take up a lot of time and space for what you get in return.

I'm thinking of not replanting them this fall. Can anyone talk me out of it? LOL


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

Would not try. Strictly a novelty for me. However they are perennials and in a dedicated bed. I will clean them out and reset every couple of years.Not much time is devoted to them and they will grow unattended like a weed for years.


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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

Of course it's your call, but how much space and time can they really take up? ;-)

They've been part novelty for me too, and food has been a side benefit. If I didn't eat them I'd probably still keep a few around.

I'm actually looking in the opposite direction, at maximizing production, especially of topsets. They store for months and aren't too much work to peel if you blanch them first. I had some this year that were over an inch across, and quite worth the peeling effort IMO.

I've had bumper crops of green onions from them when I've taken the time to harvest in the early spring. The ground bulbs are nice while they last too, but may be best for replanting.

Like farmerdill said, if you leave them alone they take care of themselves. But if you manage things right I think you can get a lot out of them. We shall see...


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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

Yep, it's "Strictly a novelty" for me too. I'm thinking about making a bed on the "back 40" for them and let them do what they want to do, weeds and all. Maybe go by and check them every once in a while and get what ever they have to offer.

Jim, I have put a lot of time in, trying to keep the weeds out. I have a bad problem with pig weed and Bermuda grass. I try to keep the weeds down in my main garden so that they don't spread as much. It's not really a space problem since I have 10 acres. I have one acre dedicated to the main garden. I rotate it with cover crops and move 1/3rd acre at a time.

I'm thinking I should transplant about OCT. in zone 7b SC? Correct me if I'm wrong, please!


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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

Oh you do weeding? Seriously though, if you don't mind the weeds neither will the walking onions; they just won't get as big.

I'm a bit of a pigweed fan myself. It's a great accumulator crop, pulling minerals from deep in the soil. Also cucumber beetles love it and leave other plants alone. When it gets tall I chop it down and use the tops for mulch. Hoeing and mulching in the spring when the seed starts to germinate should really cut down its impact. From May to September, any patch of bare soil will start sprouting pigweed around here!

Bermuda grass OTOH I can do without!

Yeah, October is fine for transplanting the onions. Really anytime between now and early spring. If you wait til then you can transplant and harvest green onions at the same time.


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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

Thanks Jim


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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

I grow heritage sweet white which supposedly was from an old homestead in Florida and I would not be without this strain. It is much milder than typical egyptions I have grown in the past and makes great scallions from fall through spring. The tops mostly die back during the heat of summer and then I use the underground bulbs for cooking. Again these are not as strong as typical types and are very good chopped and cooked with something like summer squash where you dont need a huge amount. They have great flavor though they are only around 1 - 2 inches across. Though I have never done this these underground bulbs would be exceptional pickled as they are just the right size. This strain also multiplies quicker than any other I have seen. I do not use the topsets but they of course could be used. Any underground bulbs left in the ground during the summer will send up loads of scallions in late summer or fall.


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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

  • Posted by jolj 7b/8a-S.C.,USA (My Page) on
    Sun, Sep 9, 12 at 10:35

I have grown nesting/top set onions for 3 years & garlic for one year. I did try red sets from Walmart 4 years ago, not good return.
Farmerdill & gemini jim, you do not weed??
I use the larger top sets for pickling, the wife use the green tops in salad. We eat the larger bulbs.
I am going to try 3 or 4 kinds of large onions this year, but I will keep the nesting/ top set.
I do a grass clipping mulch to keep the weeds down on my perennial beds & dig the Bahia grass out when I add compost.
Seems to work well, if I was not a organic gardener I would round up the whole 2 acres & be done with the perennial grasses.


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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

No I pretty much leave them to their own devices.I clean them out and reset every year or so. It is a perennial bed, not bother too much with grass, but Carolina Moonvine does move in periodically. I don't like the taste very much, much prefer the flavor of wild onions and I have a field of those, if I have a need for strong green onions.


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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

I mulch with straw and grass clippings and weed when I have a chance. I know the more care they get the more productive they will be, but it's nice to know they are still hanging in there even if I don't get to them.


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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

  • Posted by scot z5 (My Page) on
    Mon, Sep 17, 12 at 19:47

my 2 cents, which probably aint worth 2 cents. i have them out in my wildflower field that i planted for my bees. i dont use the greens much, but do pull some bulbs and scallions, and my favorite is the topsets before they mature. no peeling, not very strong, i go out each fall and gather up all of the "heads" before i mow the field so i can throw em around (the mowere does a number on em) i have also planted very dense clumps of them where they are not very happy and they make a pretty interesting display. ive wedged them into fairly heavy shade in a rockpile, they thrive and look even goofier than when happy


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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

Topset onions are my absolute favorite. If I had to grow only one type, this would be it. There is no other onion that I can get fresh onions from all year around, no work, no expense.

I use some of the large topsets as pearl for pickling and boiling, and leave the others to dry. I then scatter the dryed tops in a seperate bed and have fresh young onions for months.

I am thining out the bed this Fall by using some of the ground bulbs that have split like scallions. Again, have been eating these for over a month and they just keep on splitting and growing...an endless supply for all my cooking.

I don't have to worry about storage, they just stay in the ground till I need them. I just couldn't imagine getting rid of them...go figure.

I have red that are strong tasting and a mild white that I use the most....
Love, love, my egytian onions!ha

I have mine in my Herb garden(which I have divided into about 50 seperate sections) in about a 2 ft by 4 ft contained area. No weeds allowed. I have the red in a seperate section....never even considered using them for decoration!

Did I mention they're my favorite onion.


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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

  • Posted by loomis Z6a Western MA (My Page) on
    Thu, Sep 27, 12 at 23:56

I use them mainly as green onions. They're about the first things to sprout in the spring and this is when they are at their best--sweet and hot. I just keep cutting them off at ground level and they keep sprouting back. When the tops form onions and drop to the ground in mid to late summer, I am again rewarded with even more green onions. When they begin to spread too much, the surplus ends up in my compost pile.


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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

they are a no brainer onion for me. i haven't figured out growing onions from seed consistently well yet. my catawissas
are my onion crop this year. multiple small bulbs grew from each top set planted. i am very happy with the harvest. i'll grow them every year.

keith


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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

I am very, very, very happy with my walking onions. Somebody mentioned them on a forum here, and I checked on Ebay. Spring is not the best time, but I bought a few rooted starts, and did they ever take off! Wow! One already has rooted a bulb head already, and I love the way they walk!

Except for one little thing... Some creature stepped on the one with the head, broke it half off on it's way to decimate a baby fig tree!! It snapped that fig off, and left the onion broken, so I just cut it off, buried the bulbs, and they are happy as little clams all growing.

The good news is, a fig tree is not easy to kill, and that little baby has bounced back bigger than it was. It's now protected with a chicken wire fence!

I harvest the onions and use them like green onions in salads and as garnish for Mexican or Chinese dishes. They are delish!!

Did I mention I hate rabbits?


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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

Because it's easy?


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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

yeah, because they are easy. And as noted there are different types with different eating qualities.
Did I mention how easy (and so how dependable) they are....


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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

They are awesome! No brainer. Stick them in. They grow. Cut, they just keep growing. xoxoxoxooooooooo


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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

Years back, we lived in the "Siberia of the South" in the Southern Appalachians.One winter morning the mercury was all the way down in the thermometer bulb, below the minus 32F degree line. The Egyptian onions all survived just fine.That's why I grew them.There are better tasting onions out there, but nothing hardier that I know of.


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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

I have to admit, if I lived in the milder climate of the original poster - where potato onions are a better choice - I probably wouldn't grow walking onions.

But in my neck of the woods, potato onions are not hardy enough to be reliable. Walking onions are. We had a bitterly cold Winter, and a very wet Spring. Over half of my Fall-planted garlic died... yet the walking onions are just as healthy as in normal years. They are insanely hard to kill, and thrive on neglect.

Personally, I love the walking onion scallions. They are the first fresh vegetable from the garden each year, often while we are still getting snow showers. After a period of dormancy, they sprout again in the Fall... at which time they are also the last fresh vegetable, long after the first frost.


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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

Potato onions both white and yellow do well in Zone 4. I got braids as long as your arm to prove it, too. The topsets augment them or is it vice versa, and I also grow garlic and yellow and red cooking and slicing onions. What I use at any one time depends on what is available and what I feel like at any given time.

For those who don't especially like the taste of what they have there are a number of different types just like there are for all the other alliums and the tastes between the different types of top sets vary, too.


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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

"Potato onions both white and yellow do well in Zone 4. I got braids as long as your arm to prove it, too."

OldDutch, I take it that you plant potato onions in the Spring? Planted in the Fall here (along with my garlic) the winter kill was severe - over 50%. I've tried Spring planting, and had better survival, but the bulbs were smaller.

Over the years, though, I've collected two hardier nesting onions that can be Fall planted - one of which began as a seedling of Catawissa walking onions. The bulbs are smaller than traditional potato onions, so I hope to breed them with other onions to increase their size.

We really should chat off line... it sounds like we both have a lot of alliums & could have a good trade. The walking onion sets (5 kinds) are almost mature, I've collected seed from two bunching onions, and the nesting onions are curing. I'd be very interesting in your white potato onions.


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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

The yellows that I got from Jungs last fall, I planted last fall. Every set came though the winter. Kelly's Green Mountain whites I planted in the spring, every one of those grew, too. This fall I will plant some of them in the fall, along with the yellows. Both types grew me some of the biggest potato onions for their type, I have ever grown. This type of onion keeps so well that if one misses the fall planting; early spring remains an option, but I really don't think it makes that much difference. Just plant em like garlic at the same time as garlic or not whatever is convenient for you. (I plant tulips then, too)

The white onions came from Kelly Winterton in Utah out of his breeding. He has more than just his Green Mountain whites, too. They are superb, very large, quite a bit bigger than my yellows, and still keep just fine.

Another possible source is Heirloom Onions. Interesting website, but what I might like has generally been sold out, and now I have filled in the gaps pretty much to my satisfaction anyway.

Potato onions used to be an heirloom on my father's mother's side. It is said that the original stock was brought over from Holland when they immigrated, but at some point the old timers forgot and that strain has been lost. IIRCThose were always planted in the spring. But Jung's and a whole lot of other suppliers sell their sets for fall planting, which worked just fine for me and last winter brought us a number of nights to -25F. Like I said above, I didn't lose a set.

Email if you wish.


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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

It's a good way to have green onions just about all year long if you plant the topsets scattered across the year. I will often dig up the whole mess, replanting just a handful of the bulbs, but a lot of the topsets broken apart. I plant them densely. A month or so later I plant some more of the topsets, and on it goes. After a year, in early summer, when the topsets are mature and they start to fall over, I'll dig up everything and start over again. I'll eat the bulbs, but they are relatively small and smoking hot. I eat these for the green onions.


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RE: Why do you grow walking (top setting) onions?

I'm in it for the greenies! They are huge, and so versatile! You can cut them in pieces, pile them on top of each other, and slice them thin into chives. Perfect on Potatoes!


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