Growing Potato Onions

“I am looking for an onion to mature between my spring topsets(as scallions) and my fall leeks and am wondering about potato onions as the solution.  How big do the “cloves” of your potato onions get(the biggest ones)?  Do I plant the smaller ones in the fall and overwinter them in the ground(USDA zone 4) or plant them in the spring?  Do I have to order now for fall planting or do I plant in the spring?  I presume I same the bigger “cloves” for eating?  They mature in mid summer correct(+/_ July)?  Have a good day I look forward to your answers. ~Dave”

Hi Dave,

Thank you for the email regarding potato onions (Allium cepa var. aggregatum).  Potato onions are actually a type of onion that has more in common with a shallot than either a potato or an onion, so don’t ask me how it got its name.

In appearance and growth habits potato onions resemble shallots and other multiplier onions such as Egyptian Walking Onions. Their advantages and unique characteristics include the following:

–Potato Onions are easy to grow and are best when planted during the fall season. They will over winter right in the garden and send up early spring growth as soon as the weather begins to warm.

–These multipliers are very productive and also resistant to insect pests. Rather than produce a single onion, potato onions produce bulbs in clusters of three to five onions which are connected at their base just like shallots.

–Each cluster of onions will contain an assortment of sizes, all of which can be eaten or replanted into the garden.

–Potato Onions are versatile; you can harvest leaf growth in early spring to use as “spring greens.” While the mature bulbs keep extremely well and can be stored in the home through the winter months until they are needed for cooking.  They will mature at approximately the same time as shallots and garlic in your garden (usually mid-July for me in Central Wisconsin).

–The bulbs themselves are much larger than shallots and are easy to peel and prepare for kitchen use. Potato Onions have a mild, sweet taste that I prefer over regular onions, and will impart more of a distinctly gourmet flavor to your favorite recipes when used in place of onions.

–Once you plant Potato Onions in your garden you’ll have an everlasting and continuous supply. It couldn’t be any easier to save your own seed to use when replanting. All you do is set aside a mix of the best bulbs that you harvest to replant in the fall.

Grow, harvest, cure, and store your Potato Onions in the same manner and using the same techniques that you would follow when growing shallots. You’ll find that Potato Onions are just as easy to grow as shallots and garlic in the home garden.




© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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