For my current project, I'm trying to determine whether the age of the seedlings (from germination date) planted has any effect on growth vigor and final harvest size.
So, I began planting seeds last fall, and planted batches in October, November, December (2016), January, February, March (2017). Of course, the earliest started seedlings were the largest at the time of planting. However, the later planted ones have caught up quite a bit, such that the January-sown ones are very nearly the size of the October-sown ones, and the February-sown ones are not far behind those. The March-sown seedlings still have a ways to go however.
First pic is a bed of 180 Green Mountain Potato Onions grown from true seed.
Second pic is a bed of 150 with several varieties grown from true seed: Dutch Red Shallots, Pikant Shallots, SESE Landrace potato onions.
Also, as you have noted earlier, there are a number of plants that have divided already, which I did not think was supposed to happen with sowing true seed.
There are several doubles and triples, a couple quads, and even one showing five divisions!
I wonder if those will show any different growth next year after they are planted this fall.
See photos below.
Coral Mountain PO, Dakota Red PO, as well as Green Mountain PO.
The Dakota Reds are showing notably smaller than the Mountain types; but that's to be expected as the bulbs were smaller to begin with.
Both the Green Mountain and Coral Mountain cultivars are also forming topsets at this time, so I'm hoping for a crop of seeds this summer,
and hopefully the pollinators will help me out by cross-breeding cultivars and gifting me with some interesting genetically-diverse seeds.
They sure look more red than mine. I've isolated my reddish bulbs at my sisters hoping to see if i can start a red breeding line.
What are the SESE Landrace potato onions .........did you get them as seed??
Down here winter has just started so they are not doing much.
I've kept a few of the Australian bulbs indoors to keep them maturing/growing over winter so to induce them to flower in spring.....probably plant them out in a few weeks.
He purchased a bunch of regular potato onion bulbs from the SESE seed company a few years back, and grew them to produce topsets and true seed.
Last fall I purchased some of the seed from him, and grew out seedlings over the winter. Those were planted out in the beds this spring, along with the other cultivars I'm working with.
The SESE Landrace are vigorous, thick-stemmed, and growing well, with a variety of genetic (color) variation seen -- white, yellow, dark purple and light purple showing so far. With more genetic variability at this point than I'm seeing from the Green Mountain PO seeds.
As this is my first season growing these various multipliers, and seeing the genetic diversity available so far, I'm pretty excited about planting all the bulbs out this coming fall to see what results next spring.
You mentioned earlier that you've checked out Steve Edholm's Skill Cult website. You may have read there that Steve encountered mold problems (due to ambient humidity) in the process of drying/curing the Green Mountain PO he was growing. Where I'm located, we also tend to have increased levels of humidity during July/August, which is the drying/curing period for alliums around here. Like Kelly, I've built racks to facilitate air circulation to dry my garlic and onions. Have you developed any special techniques for reducing the chances of mold developing in your area?
yes i remember now Kelly mentioned Southern Exposure Seed in his journal ......they sound like a great strain.
I get a lot of moisture in the air during winter as i live near the coast. I've just had a new shed built and hope this will provide a dry/stable area to store the onions long term. I've also got about 12 plastic crates from the local recycle center for free and these stack on top of each other nicely to make a great drying rack. We call them bread crates over here as the shops get there loaves delivered in them.
Fingers crossed mine will flower about October.
Karl Trepka wrote:Hi Dean
YAY! another grower from oz. those bulbs look a good size .....did you get the seeds from Useful seeds?
These everlasting onions you mentioned are they purplish and pretty small......they may be i'itoi onion?....very rare here in oz......pics please
When you say "If you Autumn plant the bulbs, they will probably all go to seed, which is not ideal I found. "
What exactly do you mean by "not ideal"?
Are the resulting bulbs smaller than if they are spring-planted?
Also, since the seasons are reversed in the southern hemisphere, when you autumn plant you get flowering/seeds, but not if you plant in spring?
Because that is pretty much the same thing here in the northern hemisphere. It seems like it should be the opposite.
The matter of Hemisphere and seasons can be a confusing one. When you use the word reverse this could be taken as the order in which the seasons occur.......this is not the case.
Our seasons work the same as yours Spring......Summer....Autumn.......Winter
Probably better to think of us as just out of sync.......the quick way i anchor myself are the solstices ..........approx Christmas is the longest day for us and our summer......thats about the shortest day for you and your winter..........for example we are coming up to our shortest day in about a week with winter pretty much here so know this is about summer up your way.
even simpler is our JUNE is your December ......i hope this helps
I got some seeds from Terry (see above) who is also from Melbourne and am treating them as Oz strain for now.
I'm pushing my garden space to the limit and planing to plant seeds Feb-March and try a autumn planting.
you said you had some die when you planted in Autumn.....what are you thoughts on this?
Hey Karl, I planted my Green Mountain seed about that time, and germination was great. Alliums that divide like garlic and the shallot family need the cold period to help the division, so if you are seed growing, it should be fine, but like you, some of my feb seed grown bulbs divided, when they normally would form one single bulb.None died however. I am into only my third season growing them, so no expert.
Interesting that you found an Aussie strain of seed? (not green mountain related) I know of a lady in Tassie that sells small bulbs, that would probably be cloned from the convict days.
Karl Trepka wrote:Hi David
Melbourne is about zone 6 .......what is your climate zone?
My location is zone 7. Northeastern USA.
The soil is very typical of those very near the Atlantic Ocean.
Basically, my property is on a gigantic glacial-deposited sand bar.
Pretty much beyond 6" to 8" of topsoil, its all sand down to the water table.
Excellent drainage to say the least.
However, the downside of any very well-drained soil is this:
When the rain comes, much of the nutrients in the soil get drained away.
So, all that mulch, manure, compost, amendments, that you added to your beds,
well, the rains just washes them downwards.
So, you must continuously and constantly be adding organic material to your beds.
However, alliums do thrive on well-drained soil, with lots of regular watering.
So, since this spring has been extremely wet (May had the most precipitation on record)
all of my alliums are just loving it and I'm on course for the biggest, heaviest crop ever.
But, I have to constantly be adding nutrient amendments to the beds to account for that.
At this point I'm growing 15 cultivars of perennial Alliums:
Multiplier Onions (6)
Perennial Leeks (2)
Perennial Bunching Onions (2)
and all look very healthy right now.
Cross my fingers, and here's hoping it all pans out.
That is a serious collection of onions!
I live near the coast too and the soil is smashed up seashells!..........PH 8.5! Luckily I have access to free horse poo and seaweed from the beach........The main garden at the parents is a bit better.
Dean....i grew my PO seeds in spring and had no problems with dividing in the first year ....average was about 5 bulbs per plant...so a "chill" is probably not needed.
If you aren't squeamish the best free fertilizer is urine!............if you follow the basic rules most veg love it!........here are the Golden rules ........
keep in sealed containers (nitrogen out gases and is lost) if storing
generally dilute 10 to 1........5 to 1 is fine for things like comfrey and kale
withhold say a month or two prior to picking
here are my kale and they have never complained
Karl Trepka wrote:Hi David
That is a serious collection of onions!
I live near the coast too and the soil is smashed up seashells!..........PH 8.5! Luckily I have access to free horse poo and seaweed from the beach.....
The sea horses must be big'uns round your way. I really don't fertilise, as most of what I grow is in a forest garden set up. Whenever I pull out Kykuyu grass coming through the neighbours fence, I make weed soup, and I use it on smaller stuff that is in pots waiting to go into the garden. I grow a kind of tree kale called "thousand headed". Its about 1.3 mtrs high and climbing.
Thousand head seems like an interesting kale .........the monster below is a cross between chou moellier and the curly kale. i plan to back cross too curly and see what i get as it is a bit tough.
is the thousand head a perennial?......Taste?.........pics would be nice maybe we should start a kale thread
My main focus is to get the newly purchased Australian bulbs to start growing as fast as possible so to be mature by the coldest months of July-August so the get the chill to flower.
Given the supplier of the Yelwek bulbs said 6-8 weeks to start shooting and the heat pad got them to shoot in 7 days i think it was worth the effort.
Although i have planted out most of the Australian bulbs I've held some back and kept them indoors to hedge my bets.
Out of the 150 odd plants very few were singles or doubles with most dividing into 5 to 12 bulbs i will show pics of these show ponies ....fingers crossed they will perform in there second year.
I'm the owner of Useful seeds. So pleased to see the Green Mountain Seed is working for you. Can't believe your luck getting reds and purples, I've had nothing like that. And the size you guys are growing - Awesome!
Really cheffed that I had a bit of hand in helping the project along.
Karl, I didn't have much luck with Yelwik stuff - looking at their website a year or so ago they seem to be a bit confused about allium variety names.
While I support your isolation and selection procedures, I'm using a slightly different approach. I just hang all my bulbs up in bird netting in the car port - if they survive, they are keepers, and get replanted. If they don't then they don't ge to have any offspring.
alliums can be somewhat plastic - it's possible to select within clones for desirable characteristics - don't ask me how it works, I have it from people who are way smarter and more experienced growers than me.
I'm also wondering where the red/purple might have come from. I got a single red plant from my seed from Kelly. You guys got the next generation of seed from my growouts of kelly's stuff, so if I only got one red, in what was the parent generation of your stuff, where's he red coming from?
I did grow out some Mill Creek Red Onion at one stage, but I don't think they were flowering in the same season as the GMs. Curious.
But that's got me thinking - why not intentionally interplant spud onions with red onions and let them flower together? Would take a couple of years of selection to narrow stuff sown, but could be interesting.
Too dark now for me to post pics of my growouts, but I'll try in the next couple of days.
Gregg Muller wrote:Can't believe your luck getting reds and purples, I've had nothing like that. And the size you guys are growing - Awesome!
Really cheffed that I had a bit of hand in helping the project along.
The reds/purples are growing out more frequently from seed other than Green Mountain. I got a bunch of the GM from you, but I also got seed from Kelly Winterton for several other cultivars, including Dakota Landrace, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange Landrace, and also Dutch Red Shallot. I also have grown out my own TPOS from another shallot called Pikant. These four throw out more reds than GMPO, however, that said, I still did get a pretty high proportion of reds from the GMPO seed I obtained from you.
Here is an example of my Pikant shallots -- the smaller ones are the normal size of that shallot, and the ones growing are from Pikant true seed:
David those pics are amazing you obviously love your PO and your genetics look fantastic.
Stay tuned spring has nearly arrived down hear in OZ
The phenotype I'm excited about is a topsetting bulbing onion that came out of the GMs. develops very large bulbs, but also topsets. I've got the bulbs in again, and some of the topset bulbils, so will be interesting to see how the seasonal and generation rhythms develop.
One of these large bulbs is sprouting, but not developing roots - there is a 1 cm 'core' of rootbase material extending from the bottom of the bulb - anyone seen anything like that?
until then here are the pinks at my sisters.
The Tropea onions are not seen in supermarkets, but can be found at some farmers markets. They are sweet and delicious, but have a short storage life, usually 2-3 months. So they are considered a summertime/early fall delicacy. Imagine my surprise yesterday to find these in the piles. Out of the 500+ bulbs fromn my TPOS harvest this year, only two of these plants, both doubles, have showed up. I'm really hoping these 4 bulbs can survive until next spring to be planted out.
The first photo is a stock image of a bunch of Tropea onions. The second photo is of my 4 bulbs.