Growing and eating Onion as a Perennial Crop

In the supermarket we usually only see onions that have been grown as annuals from seed because you get the biggest bulbs this way. However, onions are like daffodils, they propagate both by seed and under the ground by forming new bulbs that are usually smaller. You can plant sprouting onions from the pantry and let them grow to get a seasonal variety of oniony delicacies you won’t find in the supermarket. Early in the spring, before the flowers arrive, the new shoots can be eaten like shallots. Then comes the onion flowers in spring/ early summer (delicious) and onion bulbettes like the ones below remain to grace your table from late summer right through to the following spring. You can always find fresh oniony goodness somewhere if you just keep some bulbs in the garden. If you were overly tempted and have used up all your little bulbs making a delicious Beef Burgundy, just plant some more bought onions and the cycle continues.

I found these today hiding under my living Ajuga mulch. They had already flowered and the tops have died off. I was actually pulling up the spent flower stalks and the little bulbs come up with them. You can see the new bulbettes growing on the base of the dead flowering stem in the picture top right. Once they were cleaned up with a wash and peel I had some lovely sweet little onions which tonight are presently roasting with the other veggies.

My opinion, Wow! These little onions melted in the mouth. They would be so nice added whole to stews.

Onions are very good for you, and it is for this reason our foremothers have used onions as a base for just about every savoury dish throughout the world; the Jews lamented that they had no onions in the desert. Onions are full of phytochemicals and no vitamin pill can compare with the real deal. Onions have been shown to be protective against a range of cancers, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal disorders to name a few. Of course, fresh, organically home grown will always top what you can buy. For more info on the healing power of onions

Onions are so simple to grow, and with the perennial foraging system that I advocate you can easily have your own onions in a variety of forms throughout the year. Whatever flowers you don’t manage to eat will form seeds and these will fall and grow new plants. In the picture below you can see in the bottom left some little onions growing up through the Ajuga with cut chives regrowing and calendula and potatoes.

Veggie gardens don’t have to look like a veggie garden. They can be full of colour, interesting forms and year round interest.


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