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Alliums

 
pollinator
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There seem to be at least a hundred different alliums. I'd like to try some of the less common types. Some sound tasty and others even ornamental. I think most would be easy to grow. Which species should I try next? I have potatoe onions, garlic chives, and Egyptian onions. I've grown chives, but they aren't my favorite and keep dying out. I think I have a wild one that I've been mowing. It's smell is so mild that I haven't been brave enough to try it yet. I think it has slight onion smell. Next year I'm going to let one clump grow to see what the flowers look like. I'm looking for a couple more tasty, perennial species. Ornamental would be good too since I'm in town.

Does anyone have any recommendations? Sources for seeds?

Thanks!
 
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I love bunching onions! Make sure to get the species that actually bunches, not just the ones that people harvest early as tiny onions (I'll try to find the name of the species to look for).

EDIT: here it is "The true bunching onion is Allium fistulosum, a perennial that does not form a bulb." (http://www.gardenfundamentals.com/growing-bunching-onions/)

OR, just buy some bunching onions at the store and plant them! I find it easier than growing from seed, and so far all the organic bunching onions I've bought from the grocery store have been perennial.

Another fun perennial allium is elephant garlic. It's actually a leek, but tastes like a mild garlic. I grew up with that as our garlic, and I really like the flavor. The bulbs can get huge AND they make gorgeous, tall seed stalks.
 
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I have a plant that grows on the hill that I nearly tried a taste of for an onion. I looked it up first, though. Here’s a link. https://naturespoisons.com/2014/11/14/dont-eat-the-death-camas-or-death-anything/ Others who didn’t have a book of local plants didn’t fare as well as I did. They still pop up once in a while, but I pull them whenever I see them. They are apparently widespread.
 
pollinator
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How about Society Garlic? It's not aggressive, and the flowers are quite pretty. I add the flowers to a mixed salad to add pleasing color.
 
Nicole Alderman
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Cindy Skillman wrote:I have a plant that grows on the hill that I nearly tried a taste of for an onion. I looked it up first, though. Here’s a link. https://naturespoisons.com/2014/11/14/dont-eat-the-death-camas-or-death-anything/ Others who didn’t have a book of local plants didn’t fare as well as I did. They still pop up once in a while, but I pull them whenever I see them. They are apparently widespread.



The frustrating thing with that plant is there is Common/Blue Camas which IS edible and looks almost exactly identical, and was used as a food staple by people for hundreds+ years. But, I think the only time one can tell the difference is when the plants are flowering.  Very frustrating and scary!
 
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Nicole Alderman wrote:just buy some bunching onions at the store and plant them! I find it easier than growing from seed, and so far all the organic bunching onions I've bought from the grocery store have been perennial.



Whenever I'm introducing people to edible landscaping I always recommend they do this.  I recommend they use the greens, but keep the small white end to plant.  Sometimes in the winter I end up buying a few bunches (they're like 69 cents for a bundle of 6) and I pot up the white ends and get at least another cutting in the winter before planting them out in the spring.  I have clumps of these all over!

They take a bit of patience, but definitely try ramps (A. tricoccum) in the shade of deciduous trees where the soil is moist.  Delish!

People often recommend the ornamentals moly (A. moly), three cornered leek (A. triquetrum) and nodding onions (A. cernuum) all of which I want to trial, but all of which are still on my "to get to list".


Moly


Three cornered leek


Nodding onion

 
master pollinator
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A favorite allium is the native Canada Onion Allium canadense.  It is the best-tasting of the alliums I grow.  It goes dormant in the summer.  With some shade it is completely drought-tolerant.  Self-seeds abundantly.
 
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Oh, to get someone to come harvest all the Allium canadense in our yard and garden plot. I hurl it into the neighboring woods when i successfully pull it up, fearing any composting attempt is just going to spread the plant more. I've tried cooking with it, but it seems overpowering.
 
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I still grow thw canada onions you shared with me, tyler.  I like that just a little goes a long way in a dish.  The walking on onions are surviving, but still aren't big enough for me to want to harvest.  It's probably time to try moving those to a better spot in the yard.
 
Tyler Ludens
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My Walking Onions all died of neglect.  Fortunately, Canada Onions don't seem to do that.
 
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I definitely second the ramps but they spread everywhere so make sure you really want them.

I can also recommend:

Elephant  garlic - it’s really a type of leek but you can use it like garlic. It’s perennial and the bees love the flower.
Bunching onion - perennial. I grow ‘ishikura’.

I was also going to suggest tree onion but googling the Egyptian onion you mentioned I think it might be the same thing.
 
Ken W Wilson
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Thanks everybody!

I’ve been mowing these for years. Very mild scent. I think like onion but too faint for me to be sure. They are in very dense clumps now. I don’t think they’ve bloomed. Can anyone tell me anything from these pictures?

I brought some in. I think I’ll put some in a baggy to concentrate the scent.
57B7221E-1623-4E0C-AE0C-0EB76BA992B1.jpeg
[Thumbnail for 57B7221E-1623-4E0C-AE0C-0EB76BA992B1.jpeg]
 
Ken W Wilson
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Here’s another picture.
CAD7E783-17E5-49D2-B6D7-6CCC4E1F89AC.jpeg
[Thumbnail for CAD7E783-17E5-49D2-B6D7-6CCC4E1F89AC.jpeg]
 
Ken W Wilson
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I’m finding conflicting pictures of star of Bethlehem.  Are their leaves flat or round? Do they always have the white vein on the leaves?
 
Judielaine Bush
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Star of Bethlehem - poisonous - has the white vein.  My Star of Bethlehem in 7b mid latitude North Carolina doesn't start sprouting until after the new year. It wasn't nightmarish the first year, but now we have an area into which we let the cats go, and i do worry about the cats eating the noxious stuff. Also, i hadn't seen the meadow of it behind the last wave of autumn olive.


20180423 first blooms in east lawn
20180212 Continued eradication effort during lunch while watching Luigi roam. Still some  coming up under cutdown trees and in the moss garden.
20180211 Dug up sprouting Ornithogalum umbellatum from orchard-to-be area
20170414 Liliaceae: Ornithogalum umbellatum blooming
20170222 Lots of clumps behind the house, pushed through cardboard acting as weed barrier for walk. Several clumps in backyard. With this identification, will eradicate along the walk before mulching (instead of transplanting). Seems less nightmarish than the bittercress and chickweed.

No onion-like odor
leaves curl into tube, but not tubular like an onion. Pale line on the inside of the curve (plausibly the upper surface)


Leaves have a white stripe on upper surface & wither soon after flowering, per Wildflowers of Tennessee.
http://www.namethatplant.net/plantdetail.shtml?plant=990
https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=ORUM
http://cses.auburn.edu/turfgrass-management/weed-identification/star-of-bethlehem/ (image of bulb structures looks VERY like the ones i pulled up)
https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/all/ornithogalum-umbellatum-o-thrysoides/

A long green stripe on the underside of each petal helps to identify this plant as Star-of-Bethlehem, Ornithogalum umbellatum.

Narrow leaves, each having a white midrib, might get a foot long, but they softly arch over forming a mound. All leaves are basal, and leaf margins are entire or toothless.

Alabama: Class C noxious weed
Connecticut: Potentially invasive
TN, KY: listed as weed
Lesser Threat
 
Ken W Wilson
pollinator
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I think I’m smelling garlic now. I have a lot of sinus problems, so it might be obvious to someone else. I’m going to find a second option on smell.

They don’t seem to be Star of Bethlehem. They are round.  I think hollow, but so tiny I can’t tell for sure. They don’t have a crease or white vein.

The most interesting things about these plants are that they grow in the worst soil in my yard and they are green and healthy in mid December. The soil is mostly clay from when they backfilled around my basement. They are surrounded by Bermuda grass because that’s the only grass that will grow there. If they turn out to be tasty alliums, they’ll be very useful.
 
Ken W Wilson
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I got a second opinion on the smell. He agreed that they smell like garlic. I have them in pots and they are growing good. There are more in the yard.

I found a cluster of three or four that seem to be different on the other side of my yard. I messed up and under estimated the depth of the bulbs, about 5”. I have one good bulb and one that might be
OK in a pot inside. I think these smell like onions. My collection is growing. Well I guess they were already here, but I didn’t know it.

It will be interesting to see what the plants and blooms look like when mature and not mowed.




 
pollinator
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!DOH!.....

So we left some storage onions and garlic harvested this past fall in a room that is cool but never freezes......at least not usually.  Circumstances collided and they froze, but that room won't stay frozen.  Is the best solution at this point to bag them and transfer to the chest freezer?  Has anyone taken them and gone immediately from frozen chopped onion to dehydrator for preservation?  Pickling?  Other options?.....  Thanks!
 
Ken W Wilson
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Are they frozen solid? If they are only partially frozen they are probably ruined. It seems like if they’re completely frozen, and you keep them frozen, you could cook with them. Just guessing though.
 
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I find it curious that two people suggested elephant garlic and mentioned that it is actually a leek -- but no one recommended leek! Leek is one of my fave alliums, although I have not tried growing it.

The ramps, yes, by all means. They are one of those native North American plants that needs propagation rather than wildcrafting.
 
John Weiland
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Ken W Wilson wrote:Are they frozen solid? If they are only partially frozen they are probably ruined. It seems like if they’re completely frozen, and you keep them frozen, you could cook with them. Just guessing though.



It turns out that about 1/4 of them were frozen solid and those more bunched in the middle were actually fine.  So I just took the frozen ones and tossed them into a bag and put them into the chest freezer.  It works pretty well for soups and stews just to grate them from frozen using a serrated knife.....seems to work good enough.  Thanks!....
 
Greg Martin
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John Weiland wrote: It works pretty well for soups and stews just to grate them from frozen using a serrated knife.....seems to work good enough.  Thanks!....


John, I assume that means you can cut them without tears...true?
 
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