Onions & leeks

I had one go and one go only at growing conventional brown onions. While I think it was reasonably successful (so long ago, I don’t really remember), I gave up the idea because,  a) I don’t use a lot and  b) I don’t have the room, or at least I would rather use what room I have to grow more of what I use a lot and like.

I took to growing leeks instead. They take up less room (vertical growth, so can be grown closer together) and can be picked and used at any stage from spring onion size to baseball bat. They’re easy to grow from seed which germinates quickly and you don’t have to worry about day length varieties as you do with onions (and they don’t make you so tearful when you cut them). I usually plant seed in spring and transfer to small pots for growing on, before planting out when the cooler weather arrives. Here’s my current batch of leek seedlings waiting for planting time :

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Getting back back to onions, I found seed of this variety, Rossa Lunga di Firenze and thought I’d give them a go because they looked pretty :

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I sowed them in a large pot filled with chook poo compost, in late July and they took 20 days to germinate. I intended to thin them out, but as usual, didn’t get around to it, and now they look a bit of a mess :

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But they are starting to bulb out so I’m thinning by picking :

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They’re OK fried but I’m using them as a salad onion. The flavour is mild, but I’m not into strong onion flavour anyway. I’ll definitely be growing these again, with a little more care in thinning out next time, although come to think of it, since they don’t start forming bulbs till much later, it would be possible to grow them as I do leeks….. sow, then pot into small tubes and plant at the required spacing. No worries remembering to thin. Yup, that’s what I’ll try next time.

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11 Responses to “Onions & leeks”

  1. rabidlittlehippy Says:

    I too gave up on onions. I’m hopeless at groing them. But leeks, I can grow bonza leeks. 🙂 I agree with all the same reasons too.

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  2. notsomethingelse Says:

    You are so full of good ideas. And good ideas are best learned from experience.

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    • foodnstuff Says:

      That’s what worries me about people who haven’t even started on the road to self-sufficiency, in preparation for oil decline. Steep learning curve and precious little time to make mistakes and learn from them.

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  3. kmfinigan Says:

    I think the statement at the top of this blog post is an important one – only grow the things you eat! Personally, between brown onions, spring onions and garlic, I use something homegrown in every meal, and thats a wonderful thing. Ive had heaps of success with successively planting my spring onions, which means I can harvest them all year long – which I need to do! http://bit.ly/1EC6aHG

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  4. narf77 Says:

    Awesome share Bev. I haven’t tried either but as someone who buys 10kg of onions a go, we use a LOT of them so might be worth dedicating a plot to the allium family methinks. I WISH I could comment on Bek’s page. Her latest post about wicking beds is amazing 🙂

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  5. Dean Garraway Says:

    I grow potato onions. They are like a large french shallot. Easy to grow and multiply. Very hardy.

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    • foodnstuff Says:

      Hi Dean, I’ve tried potato onions too, but without much success. I think the problem was lack of nutrients. I’m going to keep trying.

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      • Dean Garraway Says:

        I suggest that you purchase some from usefulseeds.com. He is in central Vic and has the larger variety from the US in seed form. The bulbs are huge in their first year, then divide into smaller bulbs in the second year, but they are still much larger than our local ones.

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        • foodnstuff Says:

          Thanks Dean, I will try him. I bought my original bulbs from Yelwek Farm in Tassie. First year they multiplied but were very small and when I replanted them (last year) they were a disaster—grew backwards over winter and I gave up on them when spring came. They just didn’t want to grow or multiply. I probably wasn’t doing the right thing.

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        • foodnstuff Says:

          Just checked him out. I know him! It’s Templeton from the Ozgrow Garden Forum. Are you a member, too? Is that where you got my blog link from? Small world.

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          • Dean Garraway Says:

            He is also an active member of alanbishop.proboards.com
            where I found him after researching potato onions. I think your link was on one of the other Melbourne ladies blogs. Maybe Beksbackyard or suburbantomato. I like the loojk of the storage tomatoes on Ts website. He says they will hang until late winter

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