Weird Things You Can Grow: These onions were made for walkin’

weird things

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Egyptian walking onions (also called tree onions) on June 28th. These plants came from Richters last year (as little plugs). Egyptian onions develop the oniony part (a bulb, smaller than a usual onion) at the tip of their stems. What?! I know. They’re just doing their own thing, the honey badger of the onion family. The weight of the bulb will bend the plant over, and the bulb will kind of plant itself, leading to a new plant one onion-body-length away – which is why they’re called “walking” onions. (More like somersaulting onions, in my opinion, but then not everyone is as good at plant-naming as I am.)

Pretty much the whole plant is edible. Also, pretty much the whole plant can make a new plant if you put it in the ground (by which I mean, you can plant the bulb, you can separate a clump to make two clumps; you can plant the root-part with some stalk and it will grow back). That’s my kind of perennial!

Since my patch is still getting established, I haven’t tried eating them yet, but I think I’ll separate these out a bit and plant some of the bulbs to try to get some more. And soon I will try eating some. For you, dear readers, and for science.

More info:
Mother Earth News – Egyptian Walking Onions

Catching up with the self-aggrandizing 42 Days Tomato, June 29th

Previously: Planting Tomatoes: May Long Weekend, 2015
in which
I am introduced to the self-aggrandizing 42 Days Tomato, and decide to evaluate its seemingly impossible claims

It’s been 42 days. In fact, I marked today in my calendar; that’s how excited I was about Day 42. However, it has been clear pretty much all along that nothing exciting was going to happen on Day 42, because the 42 Days tomatoes are growing at basically exactly the same speed as all the other tomatoes.

Continue reading

Sometimes, when a lady flower, a boy flower, and a bee love each other very much…

backyardI recently finished reading Backyard Giants: The Passionate, Heartbreaking, and Glorious Quest to Grow the Biggest Pumpkin Ever, by Susan Warren [seemingly out of print; amazon kindle | library]. It was a co-worker’s recommendation which I thoroughly enjoyed. In spite of being a gardening book, the real appeal of it I think are the people it describes, who are quirky, obsessive and interesting – of course, since I literally can’t imagine any other kind of person committing so much time, energy and money to the quest to grow 1500 lb pumpkins. These people could be engaged in any offbeat activity and it would probably be just as compelling.

One thing I learned from the book, which I have never been totally clear on, is how fruits in the squash family (pumpkins, cucumbers, squash, zucchini) get fertilized. Plants have male and female flowers, and it you’re paying attention to your plants you’ll probably notice the difference.

IMG_1205You can really tell how people came up with the male and female designation for flowers. Ahem. So the male flowers grow on thin, spindly stalks that look like normal leaf stems only slightly slimmer. They have a protuberance (perfect application for that word) in the centre of the flower where the pollen is. Continue reading