Our 2023 EFN seed catalogue is now online! 100+ new varieties. Over 40 different growers and foragers from across the country. A million thanks to all who make this possible, especially our amazing seed-house crew!
Walking Onions are deserving of at least a little patch in any garden. Given our focus on perennial edibles, it's about time they made it into our catalogue, because these are essentially perennial green onions that are really tough to kill. Resilient, prolific, and hardy to zone 3, they even compete with weeds very well. We've seen them thrive in drought conditions and in subpar soil. Nothing phases them.
Also known as Egyptian walking onions, tree onions, or topsetting onions, this species is the result of a long-ago hybridization between a shallot (Allium cepa) and a perennial Welsh onion (Allium fistulosum). According to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, they originated somewhere on the Indian subcontinent and found their way to Europe (possibly by traveling Romani people, as postulated by John Swenson, a well-known Allium collector from Illinois).
The bulb itself is usually pretty small, and typically not eaten. What growers want is the perpetual green growth of the scallions. We like tossing them into scrambled eggs, dumplings, and (of course) scallion pancakes. They provide relatively early spring growth too.
Walking onion plants rarely if ever produce true seed. Instead, they develop "topsets" that typically comprise five or more bulblets of various sizes, in a crown at the end of a stem. Sometimes these topsets are more like bulbils, which are even tinier little bulblets, and sometimes they develop their own stalks which can even have more bulblets. Eventually, the increasingly heavy stalks flop over, the bulblets hit the ground, and very soon start to take root. That's how they "walk" around your garden.
Bulb size varies from the size of a quarter, or maybe a little bigger, down to the size of a pea. But don't worry: the small ones will catch up with the big ones soon enough. All of them, regardless of size, should put down roots and start growing well if placed bottom-side down in loose soil or pressed down into firmer soil.
These walking onions were grown by new EFN collaborators Randy Barnhardt and his son Abraham at their 3.5 acre vegetable production farm in Pocahontas, Iowa.
GROWING TIPS: Bulbs should planted with 2-3 inch spacing. Smaller bulbs can be planted closer together and larger ones given more space, but they don't mind being crowded together either. Bulbs can be planted anytime before winter really sets in. They can be grown year-round in warmer areas.
In places with winter we recommend early-mid fall planting, but we plan to offer these all winter too. They can hang out in the fridge for months, but to be safe you might just want to start growing them in potting soil indoors and plan on transplanting them outdoors in the spring.