Potato onions

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svalli
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Potato onions

#1

Post: # 52869Unread post svalli
Thu Aug 26, 2021 4:52 am

When I was kid my mother used to grow multiplying onions, which I now know where potato onions. Unfortunately she lost the variety, while I lived in US. When I moved back to Finland I started to search where I could buy some sets, but unfortunately, those are not commercially available. I got a contact to an elderly gentleman living in northern Finland, who sent me some of the smaller size onions in a bubble envelope. I have been growing the variety now for few years and have been able to increase the planted amount every year and also eat some of them.
Potato onion harvest.jpg
Potato onion harvest.jpg (195.87 KiB) Viewed 350 times

I have read that potato onions were commonly grown in Finland before the Dutch onion set started to appear in the stores every spring. Finnish Agrifood Research center did a DNA analysis in 2012 and found 22 different varieties, which were still grown in home gardens.

I have been looking for a second variety to grow and now I was able to get one to start growing and multiplying. It is a red/purple one from Kainuu, which is also in northern Finland. These tiny onions will be a kept as a treasure till next spring.
Red potato onions.jpg
Red potato onions.jpg (179.84 KiB) Viewed 350 times

I cannot wait for next spring, so I can plant these precious onions. :)


Sari
"I only want to live in peace, plant potatoes and dream."
- Moomin-troll by Tove Jansson

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Whwoz
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Re: Potato onions

#2

Post: # 52871Unread post Whwoz
Thu Aug 26, 2021 5:01 am

Some beautiful onions there Sari. Have you ever heard of anyone getting seed from them in Finland? Are you going to attempt to chase up any of the other 20 varities?
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svalli
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Re: Potato onions

#3

Post: # 52872Unread post svalli
Thu Aug 26, 2021 5:34 am

Whwoz wrote:
Thu Aug 26, 2021 5:01 am
Some beautiful onions there Sari. Have you ever heard of anyone getting seed from them in Finland? Are you going to attempt to chase up any of the other 20 varities?
I wish the research center would share some of the onions in their collection, but I do not know, if they are doing it. I think that I have to first get that red one growing, before trying to find new ones.

I usually store onions, which we eat, in the cool garage over the winter. One year I also kept the large potato onions there, but we did not eat all of them, so I planted also those ones. Many of the ones stored in the garage bolted and I was planning to collect seeds, but cold and wet autumn came too soon, and the seeds did not get ready even I left the flower stalks on the onions after harvesting. I am now planning to vernalize few onions and plant them in the greenhouse next spring. This should give them longer growing season and if they flower, the seeds would have time to mature. Our winters may be too cold for planting these at fall, but I may try also that and plant couple of the onions on my flower bed here in the city, where I can protect them better than out in the country.

Sari
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"I only want to live in peace, plant potatoes and dream."
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Re: Potato onions

#4

Post: # 52874Unread post Whwoz
Thu Aug 26, 2021 5:53 am

Sari, very interested to hear how your vernalising experiment goes. Might be worth a question to the research center in a year or two if you are comfortable growing the clones that you have. One thing having something rare in a collection somewhere unattainable to general is the best way to condemn it to extinction if they have a bad crop or loose interest, another to get that out into the hands of a number of growers who will cherish what they have.

Not sure if you are aware of Kellys Garden, the best info on them that I know of
http://sites.google.com/site/kellysgarden/potato-onions
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Bower
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Re: Potato onions

#5

Post: # 52881Unread post Bower
Thu Aug 26, 2021 7:06 am

Those are beautiful treasures, Sari! :)
A woman from Sweden told me about her potato onions, they also keep them to plant in spring. She was trying to get hers to flower but without success. But your observation about the larger ones bolting is also what I read in a scientific publication, and may be generally true of onion sets as well, that smaller ones are less likely to bolt. However in these non flowering varieties it becomes more challenging to get them to seed.
I look forward to hearing more about your experiments!

I would also love to know how you currently plant potato onions in the spring, what spacing, fertilizer etc. and how much they divide from one bulb.
We have attempted several kinds here that did very poorly planted in fall, but perhaps by learning the right methods we can do better.

The "Cuisse de Poulet" or Zebrune type which I grew from seed is reported to be hardy for fall planting in Nova Scotia, not much further south. But I am really doubtful about the chance of a shallow planted bulb here in our crazy winters. Garlic being planted quite deeply has a much better chance to survive. So spring planting is I believe the best bet. They say these are reliable seed producers too, so I will make an effort to vernalize some as well.
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svalli
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Re: Potato onions

#6

Post: # 52882Unread post svalli
Thu Aug 26, 2021 7:28 am

Whwoz wrote:
Thu Aug 26, 2021 5:53 am
Not sure if you are aware of Kellys Garden, the best info on them that I know of
http://sites.google.com/site/kellysgarden/potato-onions
Yes, I found that site when my potato onions bolted and I exchanged some emails with him. We would have traded seeds, if I had succeeded with the seed production.

Bower wrote:
Thu Aug 26, 2021 7:06 am
I would also love to know how you currently plant potato onions in the spring, what spacing, fertilizer etc. and how much they divide from one bulb.
We have attempted several kinds here that did very poorly planted in fall, but perhaps by learning the right methods we can do better.
I plant the potato onions like my other onions, in a bed covered with black plastic. The hole spacing which is about 15-20 cm and 5 in a row, is a bit too close for the potato onions, so I should make own plastic sheet for them. At planting time I fertilize with mineral fertilizer, which is made for vegetables, and couple of times during growing I give water soluble calcium nitrate. These potato onions divide average to 5 new bulbs. I have heard that there are varieties which multiply even more.
"I only want to live in peace, plant potatoes and dream."
- Moomin-troll by Tove Jansson

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Re: Potato onions

#7

Post: # 52891Unread post mama_lor
Thu Aug 26, 2021 9:40 am

So what's the difference between these and shallots? The whole allium family is quite confusing imo.
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Paquebot
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Re: Potato onions

#8

Post: # 52920Unread post Paquebot
Thu Aug 26, 2021 10:11 pm

In the allium family, shallots and potato onions are the same thing. A common example right now are golden shallots. One can call them shallots tis year and potato onions next year. I remember commercial onions in the 1940s which were not the same that we know now. Many were not round and some were doubles. They were potato onions. I have grown golden shallots for a number of years and some have been the same size that I know 70 years ago.

Martin

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svalli
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Re: Potato onions

#9

Post: # 52924Unread post svalli
Fri Aug 27, 2021 12:47 am

What I have read is that shallots are mild and do not store as well as the potato onions. Here in north people needed well storing onions, since those have to be kept until may or June, before planting and that is why sharp tasting potato onions are grown here.

If a recipe lists shallots that usually means a mild onion, so I would not use my potato onions in there, if I want to stay true to the recipe. I do not grow shallots and seldom buy any onions from a store, so many times I do not care what the recipe says and use whatever onion I have at hand.

Sari
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"I only want to live in peace, plant potatoes and dream."
- Moomin-troll by Tove Jansson

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Re: Potato onions

#10

Post: # 52948Unread post Paquebot
Fri Aug 27, 2021 9:38 am

Shallots will store a full year or more. I still had good shallots from last year when this year's were harvested. They are the same genetically as potato onions and thus share many of the same qualities including storage ability

Marin

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