Tuesday, 2 June 2009

These are my walking onions. They were grown from full-sized bulbs, and are now waist-high, quite a bit bigger than last year, and dwarf the row of good-sized Purple Wight garlic next to them. I've found a US website (http://alanbishop.proboards.com/index.cgi?) which has someone who knows a bit about this stuff, so I'm hoping to find out what sort I have. Apparently there are several types.


  1. In my opinion it's a little incorrect to say there are several types of Egyptian Walking Onion. There may be a few small variations, like the red one that was discussed on the forum you linked to, but otherwise an Egyptian Walking Onion is an Egyptian Walking Onion.

    These onions belong to a family of alliums called topsetting onions, and within that family there are several different varieties of which the Egyptian Walking Onion is one. My Amish onion is another, and similar in many ways to the Egyptian onion.

    I don't know where 'tree onion' fits in here, if it's another name for topsetting onion or Egyptian Walking Onion.

    The Catawissa onion is yet another kind of topsetting onion I grew a few years ago, but didn't think it was interesting enough to keep in my garden.

    The Catawissa onion is a little unique in it's ability to form topsets on top of topsets, like Martin mentioned in the discussion.

    Your Egyptian Walking Onions look like mine, and I suspect they are pretty much the same.

    I think topsetting onions are a bit like Bush's war on terror, you are either with them or against them. Either you think they are the most boring plant in the world, or you have to collect them all!

    I hope to get a few more kinds this year, including one of Martin's. Hopefully I'll have enough to share in the future if you're interested. In the meantime, you could ask Martin if he has any that you could have, because I know he has several.

  2. Thanks. As you'll have gathered, I'm a bit vague on these. I like strangew plants, so I definitely, don't think they're boring!

  3. By the way, if you like garlic, I have a very nice collection of this too. Last year I had nearly 100 varieties. This year I got a few more as well as getting rid of a lot of the less interesting ones, and I'm down to 60 or so.

  4. Have you any really long-keeping varieties? I don't seem to be able to keep any of mine later than April, but some people claim to keep it longer.

  5. Yes, some of mine are pretty long lasting. It's not in very good shape, but I'm even still using some from last year's garden.

    When you grow it yourself, it always lasts longer than what you buy in the store. The main problem is the really long lasting ones, like the silverskin varieties, tend to have small bulbs and uninteresting flavors. Most commercial softneck varieties are silverskins.

    Instead of trying to grow long lasting garlic, I take left over cloves and plant them in a special place or since I rotate my garlic there's always some growing from the previous years spot, and I harvest this as spring garlic.

    Anytime starting March/April, just dig up the spring garlic, cut it up like a spring onion and use it as fresh garlic. When it starts getting bigger, and forming cloves, then you have fresh garlic. In this way you have nice and fresh garlic all year long.

  6. That would work, thanks. At the moment I'm growing Purple Wight, Albigensian Wight and Solent Wight, largely because they were available. What are the strongest-tasting varieties? We use masses of garlic.

  7. The 'Wight' garlics are brand names and not necessarily varieties. You have this too with for example Rose du Lautrec garlic:


    I was growing a few of the Wight garlics, but the plants I had were too full of viruses and I didn't think it was interesting enough to keep, especially because I didn't know what varieties I really had.

    The strongest tasting one I have ever grown was German Extra Hardy, but I don't have that any more. In other people's gardens it tasted okay, but for some reason in my garden it took on an off taste. It was also so powerful, it was difficult to find a nice way to cook with it. A little bit in a large pot of soup or lentils was okay, but otherwise it was just too strong. I'm sure some Germans have made some great sausages over the years with it however.

    Taste in general is a very difficult thing with garlics, as it can vary greatly from year to year and garden to garden. The same thing can be true with storage qualities. The best thing is to try at least 8-10 varieties in your own garden and pick a few favorites from them.

    Some garlics are good raw, and others cooked. Other garlics just have better or worse tastes.

  8. I thought they were brand names (it's obvious the guy has to have renamed them) but they're all I have. I'll try a few more and see how I get on with them.