Around here, in Potter County, Pennsylvania, the name is “Winter Onion” due to its extreme winter hardiness. “Egyptian Walking onions”, “Walking Tree Onions”, or just plain “Walking Onions” are some of other names used to describe these very hardy perennial, multiplying, top setting onions. This variety grows to over three feet tall, and produces clusters of small bulblet on the end of its stalks in the second year of the plant’s growth. And, then something strange happens. In the summer, each plant twists and contort as they bend to set the bulblet clusters on the ground. What happens is the onion “steps” about three feet to propagate a cluster of new onions. Also, the parent bulb divides at the plant’s base to put down additional new roots.
Winter onions are fun to grow and have three edible parts. The top-sets and bottom bulbs are harvested in the summer. The flavor of these onions parts are very spicy and can be used in salads, gazpacho and soups. The bulblets can also delicious pickled. The leaves are edible as greens for salads or soups similar in taste to green scallions. And, because of the large diameter of the hollow green leaves, they can also be stuffed with rice, pork sausage and soft cheeses and baked for a truly unique dish.
We have some bulblets remaining from winter storage and they are starting to bud. As you might have noticed, spring is running late this year, and the soils will remain quite soft for another month or so. And as a result of all of this, we potted in trays to start seedling growth for transplanting in April when the gardens can be worked. It feels good to get our hands in the soil, even though it only potting soil.
We planted several winter onion bulb sets last fall for a summer harvest. We prefer to plant these hardy perennials in the fall.