Anybody growing aliums?

I hope to be planting my garlic and shallots soon. Tempted to try onions from seed again, which around here are sseded now, and need to be “pencil sized” before some day soon. I’ll have to look it up, but I’ve never been that successful.

Saveur Onion Guide

We planted garlic last weekend. Last year, we planted around Columbus Day and then the weather proceeded to turn very warm. The garlic started growing from the winter, and then it all died. So, our fingers are crossed for a more successful year.

What varieties are you growing? We planted Spanish Roja (a favorite from years past), Music, and Chesnok Red (which we’ve never tried before).

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I have been focusing on “Creole” varieties, since some previous shenanigans, documented here;

On Gardenweb/Houzz


So some of the garlic I am growing is from my own crop of tiny Aglio Rosso bulbs. I also bought AJO ROJO and ROSE DE LAUTREC from Filaree.

My shallots are French Red. I usually grow Dutch Yellow as well, but this year the place I order from (Peaceful Calley/Grow Organic) had a crop failure, so I’d have to use my own. I often get some sort of mold or mildew, so not sure I want to do that.

I will grow onions, garlic and shallots but it’s still much too early here (It’s 90 degrees out as I type this.) we usually plant around Christmas or after the first if the year if its cold enough.

Wow! “Only” 86 here, but nights are cooling off ( 50’s), and that means I’m going to be shifting to winter stuff very soon. I am in N. Cal.

Where are you?

Southern California

Of course! I lived for a while in Westwood, and my brother lives in Santa Monica.

And now, a barrage of questions!
Are you inland or coastal? I am sort of inland, and it’s really hot and dry from May through October. What are your "winter highs and lows?
When do you do potatoes? I usually try half (fingerlings) before the freeze nights, and hope they recover, but save some for a March planting, because they often don’t.

I just put in garlic bulbs this weekend. My first time doing this properly by putting them in mid-
fall rather than the spring, so I hope it pays off and I get real heads of garlic vs the baby cloves I’ve been getting. I have green onions that grow like weed around my yard from my mom’s plantings years ago. They’re going to freeze up as soon as the winter drops but they come back on their own in the spring. I love them though – taste great and it’s a never-ending supply.

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Sweet! Do you know the name of the green onions?

What soil prep is needed for growing aliums? My backyard gardening is fairly limited in size and sandy soil in NJ.

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Wow, that’s really neat that you were able to grow some of the Aglio Rosso bulbs from peeled cloves; I had no idea that would work!

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Alliums like a soil that’s very well drained, very rich and near neutral pH. How you plant and treat depends on what allium you’re growing; leeks need hilling or trenching, others need any mulch removed during bulb formation. Some are weeds, like Chinese/Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum). They spread like mad, from seed, if you don’t keep the flowers clipped. Better yet, harvest the tender stalks with unopened buds for stir fries, pasta dishes, etc. I always mix a little 10-10-10 into the soil before planting. In clay soils, this allows the Phosphorous to be available at root zones, vs. chemically tied up in the top layer of soil.

During the fast growth season, typically early spring, Alliums are heavy feeders. Supply a lot of Nitrogen in their fertilizer. The vast majority of Alliums grow best during cool weather. Many, if not most, have growth cycles keyed into day length, so planting times are critical. E.G.: Garlic gets planted during very short day length months and harvested during long days.

If you want to grow sweet bulb-type onions, be aware that they are more sensitive to too much water. More importantly, the more sulfur is present in the soil, the stronger the “bite” of the onion. The famous sweet onions, Walla Walla and Vidalia, come from regions with abnormally low sulfur in the soil. If you plant them in other areas, they’ll be stronger tasting.

The biggest obstacle, especially in the eastern USA, is the dreaded Onion Maggot. It comes from a nasty fly that lays its eggs on the leaves. The maggot bores into the leaf or neck of the plant and heads towards the bulb. Even garlic can be attacked. Ultimately, the bulbs rot, often right around harvest time. The best way to avoid the issue is to grow Alliums under Reemay or insect-proof netting, supported by hoops. Organic pesticides have shown to be a waste of time, for me. There are almost no regular pesticides that are available and effective. Some regions are blissfully free of this pest, which makes growing Alliums a lot easier!

I have so many country neighbors, growing onions, I don’t even try growing anything but Garlic Chives without net protection. Garlic Chives seem immune to the fly… for now.:confounded:


I asked because up until this year, it would have been irresponsible to cultivate when my wife and I had schedules that kept us away from home often. Retiring gives me the freedom to begin thinking about projects like gardening, cooking and the time to learn. Right now I’m cleaning the property in order to address new plans for it, at both exposures. I’m going to take a course in Jan hopefully figure out zone friendly ideas for both ornamental and edible gardening. Nothing would make me happier than to use my land properly.

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I’d be glad to help! Once you figure out where you want to grow stuff. You can mail me soil samples and I can check the pH for you, if you wish. I’ve got a couple lab-grade meters and do soil tests all the time. If interested or you have any specific questions, please use my regular email, which is “rob”, followed by the “at” symbol, then Congrats on retiring! I just did the same in January. The garden is now 140 feet on each side. Two fridges full of seed and stock tubers, roots, corms, etc.

The world of gardening is so vast, figure out what you like to see, smell or eat and head in that direction.

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Outstanding, Rob. Thank you. I would be grateful for assistance. Congrats to you as well.

Hey! I want to get in on that offer to help bogman! Not so much about soil testing, but maybe about growing allium in containers.

By the way, happened to snag some bianca di maggio ciploini seedlings yesterday, and I usually do okay with those ( as opposed to seeds and sets).

"August-October sowing is possible where winter is moderate. Approximate latitude range 35-55°. "

Unlike easier to find cipolinis they can be overwintered here, and set bulbs before it get’s too hot. it is listed as a long day, but maybe it’s intermediate .

Day-length stuff
Kitchen Gardener

An old thread about cipolinis on Gardenweb, before it became Houzz.

When do you sow Cipollini onion seed???

I posted my woes about seed starting on this thread;

Seed starting time!

I do - I have been growing garlic and chives since we bought our house two years ago, and I tried leeks for the first time this summer. I just got my garlic in the ground last weekend. Planting around Halloween seems common in my area (zone 7a Hudson Valley), although I tend to plant tulips and other bulbs a bit later.

I planted about 110 garlic cloves this fall, with 6"x6" spacing (more or less); 50 Music, 35 German Giant and 25 Russian Red. I have been planting these same varieties for the last two seasons and Music is by far my best performer; I plan to stop planting Russian Red altogether if it doesn’t shape up this year. I was gone most of last spring so I wasn’t able to fertilize or weed as much as I would have liked, and my harvest really suffered, so I would say those things are pretty important! I worked a good bit of manure into my beds this fall and I plan to fertilize regularly with urea next spring.

Chives seem to grow well in my herb bed with no help from me. Leeks are another story - mine haven’t been setting the world on fire, to say the least. I think they prefer sandier soil whereas mine is more loam/clay. I also planted them way too late, I think - I’ll try to get them in the ground much earlier next time.

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Thant was great; thanks! Our conditions may not have too much in common, but I can relate to the he pros and cons . I “break up” with them off and on.

Good info all! I’ve grown Music garlic and it’s a reliable producer of high quality bulbs. Duganski is also a favorite, beautiful striped wrappers, keeps like a dream and rich garlic flavor.

The link and any information on bulb-forming onions is important; day length consideration is critical to success. One can ask local Agricultural Extension agents for recommendations.

For those of you who haven’t discovered Seeds of Italy, I’ve ordered a lot of seeds from them, over the years. Great company, high quality seeds and the seed packets are almost always more generous than other companies. Their collection of vegetables reflects the Italians’ love of great food. Unfortunately, Italian vegetable breeders have not received the recognition they deserve. They were pioneers in developing sweet peppers and tomatoes, when the rest of the Europe and the US thought tomatoes were toxic. The Chicory, Radicchio, Endive varieties are staggering.

Leeks take forever to grow! Guess that explains their cost. You MUST start seeds, often under lights, late winter, so you’re putting out good-sized seedlings. Rich soil, regular “hilling” to extend, blanch stalks, lots of weeding, feeding and water all season long, for harvest in the fall-winter. You have to really want to grow them!

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I’ve grown Music too! I used to get Piatta di Bergamo, also an intermediate day cippolini, and I used to get my favorite bean seed from then, but then something happened and they stopped carrying it. Got some tomato seed in the past as well (I saw them dried on the vine in acooking show!), but without the favas, I started ordering elsewhere.

Beutiful catalogue!

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold