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SESE has large potato onions for sale

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SESE has large potato onions for sale

Post  ander217 on 8/26/2010, 8:54 am

A discussion between Middlemama and Megan on another thread had me checking out the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange site for potato onions, - southernexposure.com - I already have an order pending from them for a small bag of potato onion sets. (Potato onions and shallots are also called multiplier onions. Some people put Egyptian Walking onions in this class, also.)

When I checked the site I was happy to see that SESE is offering a 20-oz. bag of medium to large potato onion sets for $21.50 for fall planting. (The 8 oz. bag for $11.50 I have on order is for small to medium sets.)

It's difficult to find large potato onions for sale, and I've just placed my own order. If you want to get started producing your own potato onions this is a great way to save a year in building planting stock. It is expensive to get started, but once they are established you never have to buy onions again. These large yellow onions are great keepers.

A refresher for those of you who don't know about potato onions:
Each fall you plant small sets which will grow into large onions by next summer. You also plant some large onions which will divide over the winter into small sets, much as a garlic bulb divides. So each year you pull apart the divided onions and plant all of the small sets, then you plant enough large onions to make as many small sets as you need for the next year. You keep any extra large onions for eating. After a few years you have your stock built up enough so that even after you reserve your planting stock, you have enough large onions to last all winter.

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Re: SESE has large potato onions for sale

Post  boffer on 8/26/2010, 9:03 am

OK, you've sucked me in-I'm going to order some!

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Re: SESE has large potato onions for sale

Post  middlemamma on 8/26/2010, 3:34 pm

Hi Ander....

Your explanation on BOTH threads was superb and truly excellent for everyone on here but me I am sure. But I am confused.

If you want to PM you can...I am an idiot and need a little more TLC (explaining than the others).

I don't understand what a "potato onion" is.

I also don't understand "set". I thought I did...but now I don't again. From other threads I had thought I learned it was like a bare root plant with foliage and little undeveloped bulbs at the ends and you planted them, AFTER YOU SEPERATE THEM!!! (LOL) and they BECAME onions. 1 per each plant. But it seems what you are calling a set is similar to a clove of garlic?

So are you saying that if I order these that you are talking about I will get some big onions that will split like garlic and turn into the equivelent of a clove on a garlic and then I will save that for a whole year and plant that next year? And I will get the little "clove like on a garlic" thing and plant those and they will become a big onion?

So if thats is what I wanted to do...would I order one thing and get both in the package or do I have to order the big onions and the small ones as well.

Then that leads me to my next question...do all onions work like this? If I wanted walla walla onions, which this company doesnt carry and say next year I buy sets and DON'T screw them up like I did this year and I actually GET some onions...can I plant a whole walla walla onion and it will split like these potato onions you are talking about?

Then comes the storage questions...how do these things not rot before planting the next season when it is time?

Thanks for your patience and help Ander...I apologize for being so ignorant.


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You're not ignorant

Post  ander217 on 8/27/2010, 6:21 am

Oh, Middlemama, you're not ignorant, just unfamiliar with the details of potato onions. I'll try to answer your questions.

A potato onion is part of a group called multiplier onions. I don't think your Walla Wallas will do the same thing. I've seen regular onions split into two halves, but I've seen potato onions split into from four or five to as many as twelve sets, and they always split. It's not an unusual thing with them.

Onion sets are the small, dried round bulbs that one plants. Regular onion sets sometimes come in small mesh bags, or you can scoop as many as you want from 100-lb. bags in some stores. They usually come in red, white, or yellow and only occasionally have I found them with a variety name attached to them. Onion transplants or plants are the small plants with the leaves and roots growing. They usually come in bunches, and you usually buy them by variety - Walla Walla, Yellow Spanish, etc. I think transplants are grown from seed the first year while sets take two years to produce. You can usually find both in the stores in spring. Both will grow into large onions of the regular varieties. What I call onion bulbs are the finished onions that are ready to eat. I'm not sure if that is correct, but that's how I classify them in my head.

I've never seen potato onion sets available in stores. They are rare. You won't find them available as plants or transplants because they aren't raised from seed, they come up from sets or full-grown bulbs.

Yes, you are correct if you plant a single small set of a potato onion, it will grow into a large onion bulb that looks like any other yellow onion. If you plant a large potato onion bulb it will divide into many small bulbs, sort of like a clove of garlic. You dry those like any other onion, then put them in a warm dry place and they keep very well over the rest of the summer. In late October to mid-November depending on your location you pull those divided bulbs apart and plant the separate onion sets. You also plant some large onion bulbs which will divide over the winter into more small sets for planting stock for next year. Cover them with a little mulch over the winter, and they will start growing in early spring. So, you always plant all of your small sets, and as many large bulbs as you think you will need for next year's planting. Then you keep the rest of the large onion bulbs to eat. They keep well over the winter.

SESE offers a small package of sets and small to medium bulbs for around $12. When I ordered those in the past, the sets grew into large bulbs but the smaller the size of bulb you plant, usually the fewer sets it divides into, so the small to medium bulbs sometimes only divided into three or four sets. This year they are offering a large package for $21.50 which contains medium to large bulbs. You won't get more onions, you'll just get larger bulbs which will divide into more sets after planting, so it puts you ahead in building your planting stock.

Potato onions are a yellow cooking onion. They are usually mild enough to eat raw, but my German grandfather liked his onions hot so my grandmother added lots of manure to the planting row which kicked up the heat in them. This was the only onion they grew, pulling young ones in spring as green onions, and letting the rest mature into large bulbs and divided sets.

I hope that answered your questions. If not, ask again.

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Yay, Boffer!

Post  ander217 on 8/27/2010, 6:22 am

@boffer wrote:OK, you've sucked me in-I'm going to order some!

cheers

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Re: SESE has large potato onions for sale

Post  chexmix on 8/27/2010, 8:48 am

You got me in on this to. My order is in. Humm, no wonder I need a larger SFG.

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Re: SESE has large potato onions for sale

Post  middlemamma on 8/27/2010, 11:44 am

Ok...I think I got it.
Man I need a bigger garden. :S
Thank you Ander for being so gracious to explain more.

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Re: SESE has large potato onions for sale

Post  Megan on 8/27/2010, 5:35 pm

@ander217 wrote: If you plant a large potato onion bulb it will divide into many small bulbs, sort of like a clove of garlic. You dry those like any other onion, then put them in a warm dry place and they keep very well over the rest of the summer.

How do you dry them?

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Re: SESE has large potato onions for sale

Post  middlemamma on 8/27/2010, 6:26 pm

Ok we are broker than a joke...but I just spent $18 on the small order. ANDER....be prepared to hold my hand through this! lol!

Don't go disappearing from the forum or anything.

Smile

flower

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Re: SESE has large potato onions for sale

Post  sceleste54 on 8/27/2010, 9:49 pm

I was right behind you in checkout middlemama !! I got some potato onions even tho it said they were not adapted to Florida. But hey, I'm in the panhandle so thats like lower Alabama.. right !!

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drying onions

Post  ander217 on 8/28/2010, 7:52 am

@Megan wrote: How do you dry them?

When I pull my onions in July some of them usually still have green in their tops. I spread them out somewhere out of the sun where air will circulate around them until they finish drying. My grandmother used to spread hers out on a tarp under a big shade tree and turn them every day or so, but when I tried that the squirrels got mine. I spread mine out in the garage, instead.

After they are dry I store them in mesh bags until I replant in November or use them for eating.

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adaptable

Post  ander217 on 8/28/2010, 8:18 am

@sceleste54 wrote:I was right behind you in checkout middlemama !! I got some potato onions even tho it said they were not adapted to Florida. But hey, I'm in the panhandle so thats like lower Alabama.. right !!

I can't say for sure, but I would think growing them in a SFG in your area would be better than row-style. If you're able to grow regular onions, you should be able to grow potato onions. I'd say be careful not to crowd them too much - five per square is good since they grow pretty big. Make sure they aren't shaded by other plants, and give them plenty of water.

Let us know how they do.

I'm so happy you all are trying these. It's obvious that they are not something most seed companies want to offer since if one is successful in growing them, one no longer needs to purchase onion sets or transplants. I searched for them for many years before I finally found them for sale at SESE. We need to keep them going for future generations.

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Re: SESE has large potato onions for sale

Post  Megan on 8/28/2010, 8:37 am

I'm in! Just ordered mine, along with some garlic. Very Happy

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Re: SESE has large potato onions for sale

Post  middlemamma on 8/30/2010, 3:07 pm

Ok Ander...I see you are in 6b and I am in 5b. Where would I find out when to plant my potato onions? That would probably be a different time than you will plant them right?

I think I am supposed to plant my garlic in October...should I just do the onions and garlic at the same time?


THANKS!!

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Planting times

Post  ander217 on 8/30/2010, 3:54 pm

SESE will send your onions at the proper planting time. They begin shipping to the north first in October, and gradually make it down to my region by early November so you should get yours just ahead of me.

You have a window of planting time anyway until your ground solidly freezes. You want to plant them late enough that they won't put up too much top growth which will freeze over the winter, but if you wait too late you can't get them into the hard ground.

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Re: SESE has large potato onions for sale

Post  middlemamma on 8/30/2010, 5:06 pm

Oh, ok. They sent me a email that says my stuff has been shipped..that must have been like a message the system sends out on auto pilot or something, the computer not realizing that I ordered onions.

Smile So basically when I get them...plant them. Thats easy enough...lol.

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Re: SESE has large potato onions for sale

Post  Megan on 8/30/2010, 5:47 pm

I've got a question.... if we plant now (now being summer/fall/early winter), how long, roughly, til we harvest them next year? Trying to plan square usage....

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Re: SESE has large potato onions for sale

Post  middlemamma on 8/30/2010, 6:34 pm

oh yeah...I was wondering that too and forgot to ask... is it the same like other onions, you harvest when the tops die?

Thanks Megan. Smile

LOL...Ander is gonna wish she never brought this up!

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Re: SESE has large potato onions for sale

Post  sceleste54 on 8/31/2010, 9:21 pm

So far I've not had tremendous luck with onions. Seems like every variety I try gives me "green onions" but no really full size bulbs. I will be happy if these just give me a steady supply of "green onions" even if they don't make large bulbs. If I can have a perennial green onion that I can harvest when needed I'll be a happy camper Smile

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Re: SESE has large potato onions for sale

Post  Megan on 8/31/2010, 9:24 pm

The onions I've harvested so far have been not a whole lot bigger than the sets I planted this spring. Go figure!

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Re: SESE has large potato onions for sale

Post  Old Hippie on 9/1/2010, 12:41 am

Wow! What a fantastic thread! Middlemamma, I am so glad you asked those questions. I had pretty much the exact same ones! Ander, you are so helpful. I have never heard of "potato onions" and I had to help my mother and my grandmother in their gardens. We always grew lots of onions which is one of the reasons it bugs me that I can't seem to grow any that are bigger than a golf ball.

So are potato onions the same as perennial onions? A friend gave me an onion plant she had in her garden and it comes up every year. I had never seen anything like it before either and I am looking forward to seeing what happens with it.

A lot of things you people get from your suppliers, I can't get here in Canada because of cross border shipping regulations. Sigh! Besides, if I use suppliers here, I get varieties that are more likely to survive in my growing zone. If you know of any other name I should ask for them by or of any Canadian suppliers, please let me know.

GK

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Re: SESE has large potato onions for sale

Post  Megan on 9/1/2010, 6:41 am

SASE also calls them hill onions, mother onions, pregnant onions. Or multiplier onions.

(And you are doing better than I am... I don't think any of mine have gotten to golf ball size! Smile )

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Re: SESE has large potato onions for sale

Post  middlemamma on 9/5/2010, 3:38 pm

Ander....another question.

I have a bed I am dedicating to onion and garlic this fall. I wanted to work something the onions and garlic would like into the soil before I put the grids back on. What I have on hand here is blood meal, bone meal, and earthworm castings. I also have access to a lot of coffee grounds. ANy suggestions?

Its a 4X4 bed and I am going to alternate suqares so it will be easier to differentiate between the 8 varieties of garlic I bought. So 8 squares of potato onions and 8 squares of garlic.

Thanks!

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Answers

Post  ander217 on 9/6/2010, 8:30 am

I was away over the weekend, so I'll try to catch up on the answers I can.

Old Hippie, potato onions are just one of several types of multiplier onions. Shallots and Egyptian Walking onions (also known as winter onions, tree onions, etc.) are also type of multiplier onions. Apparently anything that reproduces by dividing bulbs rather than making seed is a multiplier onion.

Sceleste, if all you are looking for is a perennial green onion, I would suggest growing Egyptian Walking onions. There is a thread on the forum about them if you use the search feature or you can google for them. SESE also sells them sometimes, but several of us on the forum grow them and can give you starts, too. They come up in early spring as green onions, and in mid-summer they send up stalks with a cluster of bulbils at the top. Those bulbils will each grow into another onion if separated and planted.

Megan, was it you who asked when potato onions are harvested? They are planted in fall, green up in spring, and then grow like any other onion. Around here the tops usually start dying in late June, and the old-timers say, "Never let a July rain touch your onions."

Middlemama, onions grow best with a ph of about 6.5, and the fertilizer ratio should be about 1-2-2. (Twice as much bonemeal as nitrogen.) Just be careful about the ph when using coffee grounds. Some say it makes the soil acidic, while others say it neutralizes really fast and isn't a problem. I've never used them and have no idea myself. We raised some of our best onions ever this year in six inches of composted rice hulls mixed with a little soil.

My grandma always told me that using manure on onions for nitrogen will make onions hot. Blood meal should be fine, I would think, but I've never tried it on onions, either.




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Re: SESE has large potato onions for sale

Post  sceleste54 on 9/6/2010, 9:29 am

Thanks ander ! I too got an email stating that my onions would be shipped sometime after mid Sept, could be as late as Oct so they can get the northern orders out early enough. I can't wait to see what grows.. Very Happy

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Re: SESE has large potato onions for sale

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