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June: Onions, shallots and leeks

June 4, 2012

As previously reported, the mild winter and warm spring accelerated the garlic harvest by at least 3 weeks vs the last two seasons.

So what about the rest of the alliums?

Next in line will be the two sweet onion types as their tops have flopped are withering. A few days back I harvested several of the smaller ones that by all indication had stopped growing weeks back (it is OK they are still good).

Close to “harvest ready”, not huge bulbs but respectable:

The smaller sweet onions curing on Lizzie’s porch:

The two larger onions in the background are potato (multiplying) onions, not sweet onions. I think some of these will be ready to harvest off and on for a month or so. Funny these two were planted with the others last fall but didn’t divide at all; they just grew right into two of the fattest onions I’ve grown to date. What is supposed to happen is what you can see below; one small bulb sprouts a cluster of bulbs of all sizes:

This type of growth is also typical of shallots; this year’s generation #2 of french red shallots is coming along but is still a ways from harvest as the tops are still vigorous and green. This is good since the bulbs are just beginning to swell noticeably and means that the average size this year will likely be a lot better than last year’s. (This is what is supposed to happen in the 2nd and 3rd generation of alliums when seed stock is saved from the previous year’s harvest). I believe the shallots will be ready about the same time as last year in spite of the warmer winter.

The “regular” or “storage” onions still have quite a ways to go as well as heir tops are still green and strong and bulbing has barely begun. I planted 3 types of these (yellow, white and red) from sets and it appears that the white ones are going to be monstrous (by my modest garden’s standards anyway).

(White ones in the middle)

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the leeks are now in their final beds after their 2nd transplant since sprouting. They were sprouted in a tray of vermiculite then moved into a “window box” type pot on a tight (<1") grid. They grew in this configuration (outside) until tall enough to "dibble in" at least 4 or 5" their final beds.

They've been there for a couple of weeks now and are beginning to show noticeable growth, having gotten over the transplant shock that comes with being handled by ham-fisted gardener.

One of two beds, still covered with my anti-squirrel plastic mesh:

Squirrels don’t like to eat young leeks or anything like that; they just like to come dig in any freshly planted bed and the tiny leeks can’t take this abuse yet.

Closer shot:

Note that these leeks above are very deeply planted at least 4″ at this point; I will likely “hill up” around them a couple inches more towards the end of June in order to extend the white “blanched” part up the stalk bit. Transplanting them deeply a second time gives a nice amount of usable white root without all of the dirt/grit issues that come when plants are (traditionally) hilled deeply once the leaves are developed.

They should be ready for harvest this fall about the time I am planting 2013’s garlic, shallots and potato onions.

That’s the allium assessment as of June 3. Fascinating eh? 😉

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