I love to grow alliums, be they garlic, shallots, chives, garlic chives, or onions in general. I plant 9 varieties of hardneck garlic in autumn. I plant yellow, red, and white onions from sets each spring to get an early start, but even earlier (February), I plant onions from seed in my basement. Growing onions and their cousins from seed is so easy. This year, I grew “Evergreen Bunching Onions,” “Red Basso Onions,” “Flat of Italy,” and my new favorite, “Italian Scallion.” These heirloom scallions are from Renee’s Garden Seeds. I planted half the packet and I swear every seed germinated and became a strong, healthy plant. Transplanted into 4 packs in March, they went into the garden in mid-April. I could have begun using them weeks ago, but we’re still trying to eat the remains of last year’s onion and shallot crops. They grew quickly, but Renee says they are delicious later on, as they become small onions as well as when they are young scallions. However, after last night’s dinner, I’m wishing I’d planted the entire packet and tucked the babies here and there throughout the potager.
I’d marinated some pork chops (using garlic scapes, but that’s another post!) and was trying to decide what low-calorie side dish to serve with it. (We’re tired of peas and had purple beans the night before.) I picked a big bowl of lettuce for salad (the adorable, crispy and delicious “Little Gem!”) and nearby was a planting of the Italian Scallions. Now, one of the things I love best about blogs and blog writers is their willingness to share. Deep in the recesses of this old brain was a remembrance of a post by Sarah The Gardener (gardeningkiwi.wordpress.com) describing a visit from her brother when they sat around the fire grilling scallions and how absolutely delicious they were. She served them with bread and beer, I think. I tried to search her blog under “grilled scallions” and simply “scallions” but couldn’t find anything. So, I decided to wing it. I picked a big handful of scallions, admiring their red hue and simply trimmed off the roots and cut off half the tops. Here’s what they looked like, ready for a drizzle of olive oil (place them in a shallow pan and roll them around in the oil a bit so they are lightly coated.) D put them on the top shelf of the grill (medium heat) for 2-3 minutes, and then turned them and let them grill for another 2-3 minutes. They softened and got some grill marks, and they were absolutely delicious, sweet and mild, and the perfect companion to grilled pork.
Renee describes them as “Salad Onions” so we’ll try them next in salads, but also in stir-fry. They are only 60-65 days from seed to harvest, so I think I’ll be planting the other half of that packet, and you can be certain that I will order them again next year! Renee suggests direct seeding them into the garden (full sun and decent soil) but then of course one must “thin” them, and I hate doing that. Seems like abortion, so I seed them 1/2″ deep in a flat of potting soil, and then transplant individuals into 4-packs (this is the 2″x2″ size compartment, 32 plants to a flat). When they are pencil-lead sized, I dig a trench the width and depth of the 4-pack cubes and place the cubes one after another (no space between) in the trench, just covering the cubes lightly with soil to help keep them moist. In no time, they are finger-sized and ready to grill. Give them a try!