Perennial Species Highlight: Scallions

What a terminological nightmare! For my purposes, scallions will refer to the young, mildly-flavored greens harvested off of a plant in the bunching variety of the onion family. Bunching simply refers to perennial onions. Normally onions are a full sun plant, but for the purpose of harvesting scallions, partial shade is acceptable.

Heres the catch: after much research, I will be planting “Egyptian Walking Onions” for scallion harvesting along with a variety of bunching onions. The former is quite fascinating as it literally walks, albeit on a slower time-frame than our frame of reference. In addition to small underground bulbs, they produce a top set of bulbs that cause the stalk to fall over. The topset bulbs then grow as new plants completing each “step” in the “walk”. While the entire plant is edible, the bulbs are pretty labor-intensive in kitchen preparation. However all of the green growth in the “walking” phase of its lifetime yields a large scallion harvest.

Bunching onions are similar as they grow a small bulb underground that matures into a “bunch” of bulbs. Dividing these clumped bulbs and replanting is how they are propagated perennially. It is a bit more labor intensive than walking onions, but I would like to see how my location in the Shenandoah Valley causes different flavor characteristics.

Since onions are a good companion plant for just about anything, I am going to plant them in the middle of the bed with rows of other plants on either side. Since radishes attract maggots away from onions, I will sacrifice a few seeds by mixing them into the onions and letting them mature. Everything works together in my garden (except the hops, but think of the beer!)!

Onions need a lot of water to sustain their growth and keep the soil tight around the bulbs but they will be damaged by too much. Weekly, deep watering and a lot of mulch is the starting point. The can be planted literally any time of the year and even though they may be dormant over winter, they are one of the first plants to emerge in the spring. They can even grow in a glass of water or a pot indoors for fresh scallions all winter long. Overcrowded annual onions planted in a full sun bed can be thinned by harvesting the crowded plants as scallions (hence the nightmarish terminology).

For my bunching variety, I am going to try and find either Stevenson or Franz varieties as they have positive taste reports and are winter hardy.

Below is the GIS breakdown of my perennial scallion locations:



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