The Alliums are invading!

The first of the alliums are in the Lady Cottage!

I’m growing more alliums than usual this year, but not quite as many shallots. It wasn’t my choice to grow fewer, but last year was so wet that many of the shallots began to rot before their tops even considered beginning to topple. And, many of them were triples in one skin, which don’t store well, so there weren’t as many to plant come fall. I experimented with dividing some of the triples to plant as separate starts, but the results of that weren’t good, so I won’t be doing that again. Nice, small solid, single bulbs are best, so that’s what I’ll be saving to plant again. I can tell that this year’s crop isn’t going to store exceptionally well either. The “wrapper” is very thin. The shallots were harvested about ten days ago, and allowed to cure on the drying rack in the Lady Cottage, where it’s dry and shaded. I should have been paying more attention, because in this extreme heat, the tops dried more quickly than usual, and they were almost too brittle to braid! It’s a good thing the garlic needed the rack, or I might have really missed that opportunity. But, there are now 7 braids hanging in the Cottage, with a few more small ones that will also be planted in fall, and a few that were obviously not going to keep that have already gone to the kitchen and will become shallot vinaigrette soon.

The alliums have taken over the Cottage!

Eight trays of garlic are on the rack, or propped on something that allows the air to circulate underneath. It also needs to cure out of the sunshine in a dry place for a couple of weeks, and then I’ll braid it as well. If you think it looks messy, you should have seen it when the flats covered the entire floor, before I got the trays of shallots outside to be braided.

Keen-eyed readers will see that it’s not all garlic. The white bulbs with the bright green tops on the floor are cipollini. They will only store for about 3 months, but they will be grilled long before that time period is over. The two flats of green leaves on the second (from top) shelf are “Candy” onions. The top flat on the right are white “Sterling” onions. Over the next week or so, all of these will be braided as well. Not nearly all the onions are ready. The “Red Torpedo” just went into the ground recently after some peas came out. They are not good storage onions, lasting only 2-3 months usually, but I love to cook with them, so they are grown last. Actually, some of the tops of the “Candy” and “Sterling” had not fallen over, but the necks were beginning to be soft, and I needed them to come out.

Making room for winter squash!

Succession planting is key to high productivity in the potager, and timing is important. It’s definitely time to plant the bush winter squash: Delicata, Honey Bear, Carnival. So, a few onions were pulled from strategic spots and seeds were planted. By the time the squashes need the room, the peas and remaining onions will be out, but planting the squash could be delayed no longer!

A tray of shallots too small to braid. Note the braid bottom left is all small singles that will be saved for planting in autumn. The braid above it is made of doubles and triples that will be eaten!

Meanwhile, the Lady Cottage has a decidedly allium “aroma” that unfortunately not even the bouquet of sweet peas can camouflage! The assorted braids will stay in the Cottage (which with its high ceiling and often open windows tends to be a bit cooler than the garage) until autumn, then they’ll be moved to the official allium rack to hang over winter, or until they are all used!

About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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11 Responses to The Alliums are invading!

  1. Wonderful pics – and your onion plaits look a lot more professional than mine! I’ve just planted my onion bed with squashes too 🎃 Happy gardening 🌿

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    • carolee says:

      I love the planning and transition in the garden. It’s the closest thing to gambling that I do! Trying to get the timing just right so a crop comes in before freeze, knowing it’s a risk but burying those seeds with great optimism!

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  2. Oh, my, you inspire me to diversify my plantings, Carolee. We generally stick to two onion varieties: Walla Walla and Patersons, storing 300 of them them in our barn in bushel baskets after they dry on the fence. So satisfying, isn’t it—having all these beauties snugged away for winter?

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    • carolee says:

      I normally grow Patterson as well, but I intended to seed them a bit later so they’d be harvested just before frost for storage. Duh! I forgot to seed them, and by the time I remembered there was no room left in the potager so I just didn’t. I’ll be sorry though, as the varieties I’m harvesting now are not great storage onions, so I’ll run out before I have green onions in the potager next spring.

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  3. The very wet climate here makes onions a problem – they tend to rot especially at the neck. I am trying to grow leeks instead but lost my seedlings this year to the long dry spell. Ah well, there’s always next year!

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  4. Peg says:

    Everything looks so good! I’m not growing onions this year, I’m running out of sun because so many trees around us are getting big!! It’s frustrating.

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  5. Ooh very jealous. I don’t have much luck in my wet climate. Have you tried fermented onions! They are my favourite thing – I put them on everything

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  6. We found wild larkspur on one of our orchid walks this spring. UK residents were allowed out of the house for exercise which led us to plenty of new walks around Canterbury. I’m glad you enjoyed the Easter garden story at Agnellus Mirror. Things are opening up but not yet St Mildred’s as the group’s other churches are easier to run as one-way systems.

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