The usual spring-sown, summer-grown bulb onions and scallions only
work with abundant irrigation. But the water-short, water-wise
gardener can still supply the kitchen with onions or onion
substitutes year-round. Leeks take care of November through early
April. Overwintered bulb onions handle the rest of
Scallions may also be harvested during winter.
_Sowing date:_ Started too soon, overwintered or short-day bulbing
onions (and sweet scallions) will bolt and form seed instead of
bulbing. Started too late they'll be too small and possibly not
hardy enough to survive winter. About August 15 at Elkton I sow
thickly in a well-watered and very fertile nursery bed. If you have
more than one nursery row, separate them about by 12 inches. Those
who miss this window of opportunity can start transplants in early
October and cover with a cloche immediately after germination, to
accelerate seedling growth during fall and early winter.
Start scallions in a nursery just like overwintered onions, but
earlier so they're large enough for the table during winter, I sow
them about mid-July.
_Spacing:_ When seedlings are about pencil thick (December/January
for overwintering bulb onions), transplant them about 4 or 5 inches
apart in a single row with a couple of feet of elbow room on either
side. I've found I get the best growth and largest bulbs if they
follow potatoes. After the potatoes are dug in early October I
immediately fertilize the area heavily and till, preparing the onion
bed. Klamath Basin farmers usually grow a similar rotation: hay,
Transplant scallions in October with the fall rains, about 1 inch
apart in rows at least 2 feet apart.
_Irrigation:_ Not necessary. However, side-dressing the transplants
will result in much larger bulbs or scallions. Scallions will bolt
in April; the bulbers go tops-down and begin drying down as the soil
naturally dries out.
_Varieties:_ I prefer the sweet and tender Lisbon (TSC) for
scallions. For overwintered bulb onions, grow very mild but poorly
keeping Walla Walla Sweet (JSS), Buffalo (TSC), a better keeper, or
whatever Territorial is selling at present.
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