Thursday, October 08, 2009

Garden Journal 10/8/09: Growing Short Day Onion Varieties in Spring and Free Green Onions in Fall

Fresh Scallions in October? No Problem—and No Effort!

Realization of the Day:
This is perfect green onion growing weather!

I've mentioned before how I love it when my inefficiency in the garden ends up rewarding me with food—and it's happened again. Back in early March, I planted seven of the nine varieties of onion plants that I ordered from Dixondale Farms. You'll find my previous post about these onion plants here, in which I admitted that up until this year, I had no idea that the size of an onion bulb is dependent upon daylength and temperature, not the size or age of the plants.

Because southern Missouri is on the edge of Dixondale's 'which varieties are right for you' map, I went ahead and ordered all three types of onions that they offer—Long Day, Intermediate Day, and Short Day—just to see how they fared, and also because there were no open-pollinated varieties of Intermediate Day onions (which are perfect for Missouri) available and I didn't want to grow just hybrids (which are usually not allowed in my garden!).

I ordered three kinds of Short Day onions: 1015 Texas Super Sweet, White Bermuda, and Southern Belle Red. According to Dixondale's map, Missouri isn't technically in the Short Day growing area, but here's what their description says:

Short Day onions start the bulbing process when the day length reaches 10-12 hours. Since they are planted in the south during the winter or early spring months, they take approximately 110 days to mature. When planted in northern states in late spring, they mature in just 75 days, but produce smaller bulbs. The earlier you plant them, the larger they get.

My 1015Y Texas Super Sweets did well (I'll share photos and write more about them in a future post), and while the White Bermudas didn't get very big, the reason I tried them is because not only is this an heirloom variety that's been grown by Dixondale since 1898, but the description says it's 'great for green onions as it produces a nice, white, large scallion in just 30 days.'

Unfortunately the Southern Belle Reds (another open-pollinated variety) didn't make it into the ground until several weeks (maybe even more than a month—I apparently forgot to take notes) after the original planting (and the Candys never did get planted). They formed tiny bulbs which were soon obliterated by weeds and forgotten until the other day when I realized they were sprouting.

I now have a beautiful little patch of fresh green onions to enjoy as the rest of the garden winds down (the purple basil you can see in the photo above is still flourishing three and a half months after the first harvest). Thanks again to the dozens of you who responded to my request last year for your favorite ways to enjoy green onions.

I was telling a gardening friend the other day about my volunteer green onions, and he said that if you leave a mature onion bulb in the ground, it will eventually form a brand new onion. This makes sense and doesn't. I'm guessing the original onion (from which these fall green onions are sprouting) rots and then regrows a whole new bulb? I may just have to leave some of these Southern Belle Reds in the ground and find out.

This was my first year growing onions from purchased plants, and I'm very happy with the results—especially considering I grew my biggest onions ever despite our wacky, inhospitable-to-growing-onions (and leeks—but that's a whole other blog post) spring weather. A friend who lives nearby said she usually harvests big, beautiful onions and had a pitiful crop this year, so I'm hoping for even bigger bounty in 2010.

How did your onions do this year? Any favorite varieties, growing tips, amusing stories, or recipes to share?

Previous onion posts:
6/2/09: Harvesting Spring Onions Grown from Purchased Plants
6/7/08: What To Do with 125 Green Onions (Scallions)
6/7/08: Wanted: Your Recipes and Favorite Ways to Use Green Onions
6/12/05: Growing Onions In The Garden
It's Time to Plant Onions!
Operation Onion Complete!
Companion Planting Beets & Lettuce with Onions

More ways to enjoy scallions and spring onions:
Sour Cream & Onion Dip
Savory Cheese & Scallion Scones
Fiesta Cottage Cheese Veggie Dip
Mexican Jumping Bean Slaw
Summer in a Bowl
Colors of Summer Salad
Healthy Swiss Chard Tuna Salad with Kalamata Olives
Swiss Chard Cabbage Salad with Garbanzo Beans and Cottage Cheese
Sprinkled on top of Hot Swiss Chard Artichoke Dip
Three Onion & Three Cheese Pizza

© Copyright 2009, the rainy day foodie farm blog where the hillsides have started changing to yellows, reds, and browns, but the garden is coming up green.


  1. I planted about 5 pounds of assorted onion sets from the feed store. We had a wonderful harvest this year. Here are some of them.

    We got lots of nice big onions. We don't live too far south of you. We're in northern Arkansas.

  2. Great post! We do all long-day varieties here. This year Copra (yellow) and Red Zeppelin grew very well. For scallions we use "Evergreen Hardy White." You treat it like a perennial (divide in spring/summer) and it does fine all winter. I don't grow any sweet onions (don't like em), and focus on good keepers. I keep hardy leeks in the garden all winter too (well banked with mulch), as we like those best in soups and quiche.

    Next year I'll start all my onions from seed in January, and want to try more open-pollinated cultivars: Australian Brown, Yellow of Parma, Clear Dawn, Talon.

  3. I'm thinking of growing onions for the first time, and I'm sure I'll make a mess of it.

    Did you grow any noteworthy types when you were in NorCal?

    I need to figure out when to put them in, too.

    Clearly I've done a lot of research. All I know is that I Want Onions.

    So prepared.

  4. I planted Candy here in Oregon's Willamette Valley and had an amazing bumper crop of beautiful, softball-sized, sweet, but still oniony onions. So it still remains to be seen how they do in storage, but I'm definitely planting Candy again.

  5. Hi, Susan!
    I was wondering if you have ever preserved grape (actually Jellybean) tomatoes. I'm hoping to roast or dry them somehow, so I don't have to skin all those little buggars. I have hundreds!

    Any and all help greatly appreciated.

    BTW, I did plant some green onion seeds this year, but our summer was HORRIBLE. I noticed yesterday that I have maybe 15-20 tiny green onions still desperately clinging to life. We'll see what happens. Swiss chard is still going strong!

    Kimber in IN

  6. My green onions (the walking kind) are usually done in late June. Our strange weather confused them; I have small green onions growing now! Well, I did until the killer frost Friday night. Sniff.

  7. We get our onions and leeks from Dixondale farms too. We had a great crop once again this year, despite the finicky Iowa weather. Our leeks where what impressed us most! We ran out of room for them, so we planted the whole bunch in a very small 2x3 bed. We just kept putting dirt on to cover the white, and forgot about them. Now we are pleased to have more leeks then we know what to do with. Bigger and more flavorful than the leeks in the store. Working at trying different storage methods, as this is the first year leeks have been productive enough to over winter. Our onions from Dixondale are always winnners. We get keeping onions, and they will last through February if hung in mesh bags in the cool basement. Thanks for the great post!

  8. I have been contemplating those end of the season treasures. I liked this post about the green onions and will try to get some myself next year. We had a great onion season! We felt that starting them inside from seed and planting early, early, early was the secret solution.

  9. I did enjoy my visit and found some very helpful info. I wanted to share a hint with all how I buy green onions, cut off the root end a half inch up and plant them in my raised bed. In no time, I have green onion tops that I can harvest without pulling up the plant. I love my little garden. Have a nice day. Joy


March 2013 update: My apologies for the inconvenience - I know word verification is a pain - but I've had to turn it on to help stop the ridiculous number of anonymous spam comments I've been getting every day. Thanks for your understanding.

Welcome to! Thanks so much for taking the time to write. While I'm not always able to reply to every comment, I receive and enjoy reading them all.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated, and I especially love to hear about what's going on in your own garden. I know, too, that other readers also delight in reading about your garden successes, failures, helpful tips, and lessons learned. Feel free to leave comments on older posts!

I try my best to answer all questions, but sometimes it takes me a few days to get to them. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they fall through the cracks, and for that I sincerely apologize.

I look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy your visits to my kitchen garden!