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Potato Onions from true seed - grow journal  RSS feed

 
Karl Trepka
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Hi

Off and on I have been growing potato onions for about 10 years and really love them. After my last batch was stolen (community garden) I decided to get back and start growing them again. When searching on the web I found Kelly Winterton https://sites.google.com/site/kellysgarden/potato-onions who grew his from true seed.

I finally tracked down some true seeds from www.usefulseeds.com and have grown them out this season.

Normally potato onions are grown like garlic/shallots by planting a bulb in this way they are clonal stock. With seeds the genetic dice is rolled.

The season has been very cold this spring/summer and I started later in the season that I should have but we have relatively mild winters so I risked planting late.

My details

Australia south east of Melbourne

Latitude about 38 degrees

Climate coastal/temperate/Mediterranean

Seeds f2 Green mountain genetics


so here are the pics

potato-onion-seedlings.jpg
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most are out by 21 Oct 2016
week-old-potato-onion-seedlings.jpg
[seedling progress after one week]
150 germinated of 200 potato onion seeds 26 Oct 2016
 
Karl Trepka
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forgot to mention seeds were soaked in 3% hydrogen peroxide for about 10 mins then soaked overnight in one cap hp in about 500ml of water.

more progress pics
 
Karl Trepka
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more progress pics
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16 Nov 2016
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16 Nov 2016 planting out
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about 150 seedlings all put to bed
 
Karl Trepka
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even more pics
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19 Dec about 1 month in the bed
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better shot 24 Dec
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11 Jan 2017
 
Karl Trepka
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yet more.......
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11 Jan 2017 one of the first to bulb and pink too
 
Blaze Gorski
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I think i'll try this with 'regular' onions...instead of buying bulbs next year...great photos, dates, and descriptions.

Thank you for sharing and motivating
 
Thekla McDaniels
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There is another option in addition to bulb onion sets and seed.

Dixondale Farms   http://www.dixondalefarms.com/category/onion_plants  ; in Texas sells little onion plants in bundles of ~75.  If you are buying 30 bundles, the price $83.00.  They have long day short day and intermediate day onions, sweet,hot, long keeper storage onions, as well as red and white varieties of ciopolini.

I just looked, and unfortunately they don't have shallots or potato onions, but they might be of interest just for all the onion growing knowledge they share on their website.  You can also sign up for their newsletter.
 
Trish Dallas
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Neat project – I look forward to seeing how it progresses! Here also is a compilation of interesting historical references put together by Steven Edholm of skillcult.com –

http://skillcult.com/blog/2012/03/14/402
 
Casie Becker
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I had planted onions with my saffron last year. This year when the saffron came up, two surprise onion plants did also. Somehow I missed them when I was harvesting, so I'm hoping to get onion flowers and then seed to try growing this fall.

 
Karl Trepka
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Hi Trish

Yes skillcult has some really good stuff here is is link to youtube on potato onions ALL THREE are worth a look 
 
 
Tracy Wandling
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I'm not familiar with potato onions. What sets them apart from regular onions?

I started my regular onions from seed last year, in soil blocks, with 4 seeds per block. That way it is faster to plant them out. If you're planting 150 onions/potato onions, and you plant 4 seeds per block (or plug) you'll only have to plant out 37 instead of 150. My onions grew just fine all bunched together. I planted 300 onions, but only had to plant out 75 transplants. Just give them a little more space between transplants. Worked great! I'll be doing the same this year. I did the same with green onions, but put 10 seeds per block. They grow in a nice handy bunch for taking to market.
 
Karl Trepka
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Hi

here are more pics of different Phenotypes ........most are still not colouring up however lots are dividing in two which i didn't expect in this first year from seed.

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pink/purple from previous pic dividing
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this type divided very early
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looks white?
 
Karl Trepka
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more pics
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white?
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white?
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may be brown
 
Karl Trepka
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more!
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this looks like it will be puple
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expect one of these will divide
 
Karl Trepka
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Hi Tracy

Potato Onion (Allium cepa aggregatum) ....good linK https://www.cultivariable.com/instructions/others/how-to-grow-potato-onion/.................also look above link vids "skillcult"

these are a perennial rather than a biannual with normal onions 1 seed = 1 bulb with potato onions 1 bulb = 2 to 16 bulbs

think of them like shallots or garlic.....they are a form of multiplier onion

onions are heavy feeders and my soil isn't very rich yet so i'm being careful about spacing .......usually for cropping about 8 inches apart is use for po's
 
Tracy Wandling
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Thanks, Karl. They sound interesting. I think I'll look for some seeds here in Canada.
 
Karl Trepka
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Hi Tracy

we are very isolated here in OZ regarding plant varieties but you may have better luck getting hold of Kelly Wintertons Green mountain and coral Mountain bulbs they are much improved ..........his blog is worth a look https://sites.google.com/site/kellysgarden/potato-onions
 
Roger Taylor
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I've got around 20 in from last autumn, and it's interesting to see that the colours can already be picked out in the bulbs (as you pointed out with the red).  It's a pity Kelly had so little luck with storability of the reds.  Still worth a try though.
 
Karl Trepka
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Hi Roger

he did have luck with his pinkish coral mountain hopefully i will get something similar.

what variety are your potato onions.......what's the chance of a pic
 
Deb Rebel
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Karl, thank you so much for this post. Your source is Australia, of course, and I'm half a world away but. I shall follow up on other links give. Usefulseed.com has me in a drool, you are lucky to have them.
 
Karl Trepka
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Hi

Thankyou Deb for the support and wishes finding posts/forums on rare topics has helped me greatly over the years so it's good to pay it forward

Here is a partial harvest of the onions that have drooped/shriveled enough to harvest, these i'm calling early with some having no green tops left at all.

The others left in the bed still show signs of growth so will leave them in for now.

I seem to have more that have split/divided compared to Kelly Wintertons trials, not sure why.

Also my theory is the earlier the harvest the more likely they are daylength sensitive.

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First batch
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Second batch
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still growing- one has divided the other is a single - both huge!
 
Karl Trepka
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one more
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this is a big cluster
 
Trish Dallas
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#jealous #drool. I'm so impressed!  Well done- thank you for sharing this experiment.  I'm growing out a few Green Mountain, I'itoi, seed Blum, and Copper Shallots from Steven Edholm, and Red Dutch and some perennial leeks from Kelly Winterton this year.  Steven also sent me see OP potato onion seeds, and I planted a few this week, and will do the rest this Fall (Septemberish here).  The seed Blum, some are splitting up nicely, some not so much, and some forming just one big bulb.  It's fun to watch! 
 
Karl Trepka
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wow!

That is an impressive list. i'm experimenting with red shallots soon too.

I'm expecting you to post copious pictures of these precious little babies as they grow.

 
Trish Dallas
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I haven't tried posting photos here...  here goes.  Most of my small collection is still in pots, but I hope to plant them out in the next month. I'm disabled, and it takes me a while to do things.  The I'itoi are actually flowering, and 2 separate scapes from two separate plants have come up. They both come from plants that have divided nicely, so if they produce seed I'm hoping for good things. To be continued…
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I'itoi with scapes
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I'itoi
 
Trish Dallas
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More photos
IMG_20170327_1657383_rewind.jpg
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Red Dutch potato onions, younger than the rest
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Perennial leeks
 
Trish Dallas
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And still more-
IMG_20170327_1656271_rewind.jpg
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Copper Shallots
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Green Mountain
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Seed Blum, the ones with better splits
 
Karl Trepka
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looks great!....those I'itoi's look exciting ......if you get seeds that could be the start of something HUGE!

Keep me posted
 
Linda Secker
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Wow Karl  - the onions look great bigger than my normal ones grown from sets!! Totally gonna try this next time
 
Karl Trepka
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when i grow them out in the second year the big ones may divide into smaller clusters.......who knows i will trial as may in the second year as possible.
 
Karl Trepka
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Hi all

Time for an update on how things are progressing. I have now harvested 90% of the onions with only 20 refusing to die back. i will leave these for a later planting in a couple of months.

I'm trying not to make assumptions on how I think these breeders are going to behave in there second year and casting a broadest net possible.

As i planted late in the season and the days to maturity did vary I was a bit careful on selecting on yield alone as the very early individuals were usually smaller. my logic is with a full season this year that may improve.

some of the selections were made to keep the gene pool larger and on one single trait such as biggest yield over perfect shape.

One thing very hard to see in the pics is the trait of many bulbs dividing under the skin. i will cull for this more heavily next year.






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Typical rejects that didn't bulb up
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List of final "cream of the crop"
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Best numbers match with list see pen for scale
 
Trish Dallas
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Wow, Karl, those look great!  I'm interested in the genetic variability you mention- does that mean that you intend to continue growing out seeds as much as the onions are capable of it, and growing more bulbs from these new seeds as years go by?
 
Karl Trepka
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Hi Trish,

Alright you twisted my arm and will tell you what else I've got planned. Just keep it hush hush so not to spoil the surprise for the others.

The short answer is yes i'm planning too let them flower and get some seed. The problem is space so need to be targeted with my aproach.

I like Joseph Lofthouse's idea of keeping a few rejects with some good traits to spice things up.

The other thing influencing me is that potato onions are very rare here in oz and expect them to be extint soon.

I had two plants that were brown but also had a slight purple blush (see pic below) these I have isolated at my sisters place to see if these produce purple/red onions in the next generation (seeds).

I have just purchased some Australian potato onion bulbs with the express purpose of getting them to flower and get some seeds. I think i have found the key in this article https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B_ByyUqq3HoCYzBmZjRlNDAtZjBlZi00NzFhLThiZDMtMDkwZDI2ZDI4ZWFk&hl=en_US and will post my methods and results soon.

mums the word


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Very early maturing with purple blush at sisters place
 
Trish Dallas
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Totally, love my mum, keeping her words secret indeed!    I'm quite grateful that the article you referenced had an abstract in English – otherwise I would have been in quite a pickle. That does sound very promising for shallots, and I really look forward to seeing how your application to potato onions works out. You may already have read these two sites, but just in case not...

Steven Edholm's records of his experiments – the notes at the end are particularly interesting:
http://skillcult.com/blog/2012/08/23/mr-wintertons-remarkable-potato-onion

Kelly Winterton's site, tons of information:
https://sites.google.com/site/kellysgarden/potato-onions

Do you know what the import is like for you? I'm thinking about how to get you a bulb or two and maybe some of the I'itoi seeds if they set this year-

Thanks, and looking forward to seeing the results of your experiments –
 
Karl Trepka
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Hi

Kelly and Skill cult's stuff is amazing and the reason i started looking for seeds.

Bulbs would be less likely to get to me maybe one or two however the odds of seeds getting through would be good, particularly at Christmas (card)

cheers
 
Karl Trepka
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Hi all

BIG NEWS!!! :O

I have made contact with a chap in oz growing Potato Onions from seed.....and he has sent me some of his seed to boot (still to arrive) Even more exciting he stated he has had pink ones with a spicy flavor so hopefully these genes are still in his seeds.

pics of his bulbs


Wait there's more! another contact, again is OZ has told me her P/O's flowered last year for the first time.

I have three sources i bought bulbs still in the post and should arrive soon.

Cheers
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Bulbs from OZ seed
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Bulbs Oz from Oz seed 2
 
Karl Trepka
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Hi all

Based on the shallot article on flowering here are my thoughts on getting potato onions to flower. link here https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_ByyUqq3HoCYzBmZjRlNDAtZjBlZi00NzFhLThiZDMtMDkwZDI2ZDI4ZWFk/view

Basically at 80-120 days old the plant is to be grown in a temperature range of 8-12 degrees Celsius for 30-60 days.

The bulbs can take 2 to 8 weeks to start shooting/growing.

The overlap in the chart is the ranges above IE uncertainty. Based on my climate mid Autumn would be the latest to plant. That said Terry stated he plants about 25 April (Australia) so that is close.....and they flowered!

Unfortunately shops don't sell them here until may-June so i'm behind the 8 ball as usual

The only thing a can influence is speeding up start of growth and maturity by warming them up at the start.

The two options are a cloche and seedlings heat mat (re-purposed water bed heater ).....fingers crossed
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planting calender
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Cloche to speed growth/ maturity
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Keeping at 20-25 c on heat mat
 
Karl Trepka
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here are the different bulbs I purchased recently in oz ......yes that is seed next to Terry's bulb!
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bulbs from oz different sources
 
Karl Trepka
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Hi

Bulbs on heat pad / cloche update.

Terry's bulbs were the first to shoot after only 3 days! The white ones (reputed to be quick) were nearly neck and neck. The others have now started at day 5 and expect the rest to be all up in the next day or so.

Keep in mind the quickest I've seen in garden beds is two weeks and the supplier of the ones that took 5 days said expect them to shoot in 6-8 weeks.

Temperature range is about 20-25 c ....68-77 f

The cloches were modified to get most area for the few sheets i had. Just screwed to garden bed timber.

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Terry's only after 3 days ( this bulb was from seed)
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White not far behind
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Other types start day 5
 
Karl Trepka
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more pics
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group shot day 5
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Cloche
 
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