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Perennial Dividing Onion Diversification

A long term project to bring back the diversity in potato onions and other perennial dividing onions by growing out seed when it is available
Description

There's been a lamentable loss of potato onion varieties over the past century, such that old heirlooms are now incredibly hard to come by. This project hopes to help bring that diversity back.

Researcher background
I'm constantly experimenting with and trying to develop new varieties for my challenging climate. Shallots and potato onions are a favorite of my family, and I was lucky enough to have a mass flowering and great seed set in 2018. Now I need help growing out it out and evaluating the results.
Are you seeking volunteer growers or other types of volunteers?
Yes, seeking volunteer growers
How many volunteers do you need?
1000
What will you ask volunteers to do?
Grow out potato/dividing onion seeds for multiple years and store the onions over each winter. Seed is available for purchase from the Experimental Farm Network seed store (www.EFNSeeds.com). Or if you have your own, by all means join us and bring more diversity!
You are asked to:

Share information about the diversity and traits of your onions.

Select notable strains for keeping ability, productivity, size and/or color, and propagate these selections.

These onions do not flower and set seed regularly, if yours do, return a good portion of the seed to the project.
Is this a multi-year project?
Yes
Can volunteers expect to be able to keep some germplasm (seeds, bulbs, cuttings, spores, etc) at the close of the project?
Yes, of course
Researcher Location

80031
United States

Project Updates

From Virginia


project update by
adrian8231999
Thursday, April 29, 2021 - 03:01

Hi everyone! I joined this project and would love to assist with growing out and testing these onions, does anyone have any seeds or bulbs of these onions available?

2021 end of April Update


project update by
fts
Tuesday, April 27, 2021 - 02:08

5 of the 6 potato onions that I had started from seed have grown well and each is multilplying into 4 or more onions. Better news is that some of them are forming flower scapes. If they actually produce flowers and seed I might have some to share here. I will keep you all posted.

The seed I started with came from Kelly Winterton.

Hello


project update by
greencannons8
Tuesday, April 13, 2021 - 11:40

Hello all, new to the network 😊 Very exciting concept! Is this project still active? Would love to participate, I have grown potato onions successfully in the past and grow a number of different types of perennial onions. I'm in zone 4a, latitude 60 (Alaska), snow is starting to melt here so it would be great get my hands on some seeds quick, as we have a pretty short, sunny growing season here. Also, if there is any participant that would be open to sharing bulbs that they would like trialed up here let me know and I can cover shipping costs. Thanks!

Dylan's green mountan multiplier


project update by
dylanjakematheson
Sunday, March 14, 2021 - 09:06

I was sad to have only been able to get one packet of seeds from efn this spring. Germination of my Andy's green mountan multiplier was poor less than 50 percent compared to the onions in the next flat over under the same conditions, but I look forward to what they will do this summer.

Onions making their appearance, year 2


project update by
sagescrub
Sunday, February 7, 2021 - 06:46

Last summer my potato onions kept growing quite late into summer. Since I wasn't planning to eat any, I just let them keep going because they hadn't shown signs of dying back yet and a good number of them started splitting/dividing at their sections. After harvesting and curing them I divided those that had split into more than one section and ended up with more seed onions. I was surprised by how large many of the onions got in their first year from seed (baseball size). After curing, I planted them all out in November, mulched them with 6" of horse manure + wood shavings. Since then that mulch shrank by half and the onions are just now making their appearance through it. I'm in zone 7b ish. Looking forward to see how they do this season and crossing my fingers for some flowers.

Now to this Project but not to Potato Onions


project update by
fts
Sunday, January 10, 2021 - 09:01

Hello All
Not sure where I heard about potato onions, probably from Steven Edholm videos on SkillCult.
Found out about Kelly Winterton and in 2017 ordered two different strains of potato onion seed (SSE & GM) from him. Have had difficulty growing out this see, though germination was pretty good. Currently have in the ground 6 potato onions from 3 plants I planted last year from these seeds, will attach photo. I have definitely had problems with onions while in storage.

This year I soaked all my alliums in 10%bleach solution as recommended by Kelley Winterton, to combat fungal diseases. Details are near the bottom of his growing log, here is the link to it. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1QEJ7PBA1zyYPxDlfYtMnSPoZzQdyowK77cL…

I am growing in East Tennessee and deal with a lot of fungal diseases in alliums. Other alliums I grow are garlic, walking onions, perennial leeks(similar to Delft), Elephant Garlic and more.

I'm going to purchase some seeds from this project as I would like be working with more than 3 different sets of genetics on this.

Multiplier onions


project update by
lepac
Saturday, December 5, 2020 - 09:33

Mine have been in the ground for 2 growing seasons, no offsets yet. Still dealing w weed pressures but this year we got the permaculture beds dressed w manure and wood chips. Looking forward to seeing how the surviving plants do next year,

Dave's grow out report


project update by
dave
Tuesday, September 8, 2020 - 05:22

This is my interim grow-out report for 2020. I have not harvested all the bulbs yet so this is just about the seeds.

I planted the following 10/12/19:
63 ea EFN Potato Onions, (grown from seed in 2019)
36 ea Matador F1 shallots, (grown from seed in 2019)
21 ea Potato Onions, grown from bulbs for last several years

I harvested seed heads 8/24/20:
253 seed heads EFN Potato Onions
118 seed heads Matador Shallots
132 seed heads my Potato Onions

So far I have threshed and cleaned these seeds:
10.4 ozs EFN Potato Onion seeds
9.7 ozs Matador Shallot seeds
5.3 ozs my Potato Onion seeds

There is also a single seed head from the EFN crop that has several bulbils on one side of the seed head.

These Plants were all grown within about 20 ft of each other, so may all be cross-pollinated.

There are still lots of seeds which have not released from the seed capsules yet, and I'm bored with trying further to release them. Since I'm not really trying to be a plant breeder other than about ½ oz of each that I plan to keep, what do you want me to do with everything else?

aphan, if you'd like to respond off forum, my address is: [email protected]

Seedling onions dividing in first year


project update by
sagescrub
Thursday, August 13, 2020 - 09:07

Mid August my potato onions grown from seed are now actually dividing in their first year. I didn't expect that! Now I'll have more planting stock for this fall. Attaching a few photos.

*Edit: Apparently the website isn't taking my photos.

Greetings!


project update by
michael.amato
Monday, August 10, 2020 - 07:18

Hello everyone!!

I am new to EFN and incredibly excited to start contributing to this community! I’m hoping to experiment with growing potato onions in southern New England zone 6b, however I cannot acquire any seed from the site anymore due to it selling out , I recognize it is late in the season but I was hoping to acquire some seed and get it ready for sowing this coming spring. If anyone has any seeds left over (less than 10 even) please feel free to Email/reach out to me at [email protected]!!! I am so very excited to have the opportunity to contribute to this long term project. I will also be growing Egyptian walking tree onions!!

Next Steps on Potato Onions?


project update by
rhizocity
Saturday, August 1, 2020 - 09:20

Hello!

I wanted to provide a visual on where our onions are at currently in zone 5b, Lincoln, NE. These were started from the seed from this project and have been in the ground since ~Apr 1.

There is quite a bit of diversity in here with the sizes and the yellow and white - there is also at least 1 red so far!

Should I wait for them to dry down more before harvesting? If I just leave them in the ground and give a good mulch for the winter, how likely are they to survive and will they just continue to divide next spring?

Any suggestions are welcome! Thanks!

Next Steps on Potato Onions


project update by
rhizocity
Saturday, August 1, 2020 - 09:20

Hello!

I wanted to provide a visual on where our onions are at currently in zone 5b, Lincoln, NE. These were started from the seed from this project and have been in the ground since ~Apr 1.

There is quite a bit of diversity in here with the sizes and the yellow and white - there is also at least 1 red so far!

Should I wait for them to dry down more before harvesting? If I just leave them in the ground and give a good mulch for the winter, how likely are they to survive and will they just continue to divide next spring?

Any suggestions are welcome! Thanks!

Potato Onion Bulblets


project update by
CWPates
Thursday, July 23, 2020 - 04:29

Not sure how often potato onions put out bulblets when they flower? I'll probably plant these in a separate area, and see if I get more of the same.
Did the original project seed have a chance to cross with anything?

Resources and Guides for Growing Potato Onions


project update by
sagescrub
Tuesday, July 21, 2020 - 06:19

I am in my first season growing a trial of these potato onions from seed. So far they are holding up well in the heat (90-100F days) and some of the onions are getting quite nice size. At least one has pink skin. I am just waiting for them to start dropping over and dry to harvest for storage.

Having never grown potato onions before I did some research on how to best harvest and grow them perennially and found some amazing info. I am now way more excited about this perennial onion and looking forward to grow much more next year! I am sharing a few links below in case it helps out other folks here.

The Historic Potato Onion: A compilation of early references
https://turkeysong.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/402/

Resurrecting the Potato Onion
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1jnqst7-9YfWFovhqjARtcZZVJC0TPzKsow_…

Potato Onion Facts Booklet
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1tlnAG6epHBAd4SLOA4zlHa3EnA7r0OaZy6N…

Sold out on the EFN store


project update by
mail_1
Saturday, June 27, 2020 - 04:58

I was going to order these onions on the shop, but they're all sold out !

If anybody has seeds and is willing to mail them to Montreal in Canada, let me know.

Cross pollination


project update by
dave
Saturday, June 6, 2020 - 04:14

This may be a dumb question, but intended for the project organizer. Your onions are in their second year and are flowering, I also have adjacent to them another planting of Matador F-1 shallots and some other yellow potato onions I've been growing for a few years. They are all blooming and close enough for some cross pollination, if I don't remove some flowers. Do you want to allow these other Allium cepas to potentially cross with yours or not. I'm not a breeder so it makes no difference to me. If you like I can de-flower the others, but it will need to happen in the next few days. What would you like?
Dave

Egyptian Walking Onion


project update by
chonas009
Thursday, May 28, 2020 - 03:51

I have some of this planted in my garden, would this be of value for crossbreeding? I just joined today, so let me know how else I can be of service.

Already going into dormancy in July


project update by
Elderberry
Thursday, August 8, 2019 - 11:11

Most of my potato onions were already going into dormancy in July. A few are still a little bit green. I harvested most of them, and keep them dry. I hope they survive till spring.
I left a few in the garden, where they have overhead irrigation. I hope they do not rot.

Am I the only one where they finish growing so early? Or has it to do with the really hot weather this year?

Seed from Dave


project update by
jeff.rosen
Friday, June 28, 2019 - 12:13

Dave I would love to get some seed. I would be happy to pay.
Thanks
Jeff