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In Praise of Spring Onions: I likem heaps

One of my truly great recent recognitions was that I have become spring onion dependent.

Spring onions are markedly different from shallots (Allium cepa, aggregatum group) and the bulb onion (Allium cepa, cepa group). However, some varieties of bulb onion, such as early Lockyer White, South Australian White, Savages White and Gladalan White, are sold as spring onions if they are harvested when the bulb is immature and the leaves are intact.

This penchant in my cuisine began when I noted how dedicated the Catalans  were to the vegetable which  they call  Calçotada . In Barcelona they host annual festivals to celebrate the bulb.

So I started buying spring onions regularly and using them more  often.

I soon enough noted that with a Spring Onion there is no waste. It is so easy to use the lot: bulb + tops.  And there's no pealing like you need to  do with a standard onion. 

For  my dietary penchant , spring onions have a lower carbohydrate content than standard onions 

While I experimented initially with grilling them -- as the Catalans love to do --  I soon enough found that I could replace my daily use of standard onions with these beauties. But when you grill them you learn to respect a size that  has a thicker  gauge than the standard offerings on offer at the fruit and vegetable suppliers. 

So I started growing them. 

Spring Onions -- despite their name -- are easy to grow all year round. They require much less time in the soil than standard onions.  Some varieties clump so you will get at least three for one. If you can get your head past the notion that they are sentenced to being 'salad onions'  -- your garden can be very easily self sufficient in Allium before you can say  ' where's my garlic got to?'

Snipped above the rooty base bulb, you can immediately replant your onion base when you harvest the top above.

Talk about cut-and-come-again!

My quest now is to grow a range of varieties -- any variety -- I can find and delight in the taste and texture differences.

I treat them like a herb -- something that is always growing in the garden to  flavour up any dish. So before the cook up, I go out and harvest this and that...and my spring onions. They store so well in situin the soil so they are always just there, ready to pick.

I pull the bulb, trim the bottom -- plant the hairy root  back in the soil and head back to the kitchen with the rest of the stem.



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Comment by Dave Riley on September 5, 2012 at 8:10

Thats' the way to do it!

Comment by Scarlett on August 23, 2012 at 21:18

You know how in punnets there are always little clumps of millions in each cell? I plant the entire cell, and when they are a thin knitting needle thick (half a pencil maybe?). I pull the whole clump and then transplant them singly from there. It's much easier and results in lower losses  - they don't seem to mind at all.

I too am spring onion dependent - they are a must have as far as I'm concerned. I don't grill them much - except in summer on the BBQ, but no stir-fry is complete without them I reckon.

I tend to substitute leeks for onions in recipes where you sautee the onion as a base first.

Real onions are hard to grow properly and take an age :(

I've never had much luck with the replanting methods - it seems to me the resulting plants are never as good as those grown from seed.

I do have luck with spring onion seed - but it can't be broadcast in the garden - it will germinate, but rarely result in a plant. My best results come from mixing it (in quite high densities) with sand and sprinkling over the surface of a dedicated container, then transplanting once it gets to a thin knitting needle size.

I get germination if I mix with lettuce and carrot seed as well in this mix, but I find I have to rescue and transplant the spring onions when they are quite small if they are too close to the other plants - a fiddly business, but they are hardy. Always handle small seedlings by the cotyledons if you can (first leaves), or gently grasp by the very bottom of the stem - no crushing (try not to grab them at all - just handle the roots if you can).

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on August 21, 2012 at 20:59

I love 'em too! Tried growing from seed - not for me, too many didn't come up and Onions are s-l-o-w to sprout. I buy them in punnets grown by experts. I've tried teasing them out and re-planting in rows. It takes forever and the losses are high. So now I just take them from the punnet and plant the clumps in a prepared bin. I use them from about matchstick thickness in salads or added to pizza or omelet. Plain cooking! I just keep buying a punnet now and then, not at all sustainable but then neither is sprouting unless you grow your own seeds. When I have cut off the base, I've done it in situ not pulling the roots out. The result have been very mixed so attention to watering must be right or the babies don't survive.

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