grow, marvel, eat, laugh, persevere

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Overcrowding Onions

What the heck should I do about this?

These are my onions that I planted in the Kitchen Garden back on May 21. Poor things look like they can't breathe. I'm assuming that I didn't plant these right, or didn't thin them when I should have or something. This can't be what they are suppose to look like.
I have 2 bunches of these right next to each other. I thought I had read that you should harvest them when the stems turn brown but every day their overcrowding becomes more obvious. I'm not sure if I didn't plant them deep enough or even these are just growing above the soil out of desperation. I suppose there is a slim chance this is normal, but I doubt it.
My poor plants. I have noticed that veggies and fruit seem to be way more forgiving than the perennials I've planted.
If anybody knows what I should do to these onions, please let me know. If anybody knows that this is what they are suppose to look like, please let me know that too so that I can stop worrying about it and move on to worrying about other plants in dire straights, like the Coral Bells in bright sun.


  1. Are those still in the ground? If so, they are way too close. You should probably try to remove some of them and carefully hill some dirt around the remaining ones. With luck the bulbs will then grow larger. You can eat the ones you removed.

    My 10 year old daughter is in charge of our onions. She plants sets anywhere she can find room in the garden - they are everywhere! Her only rules are that she puts her hand down with her fingers spread out in between them when planting. This makes them about 4 to 5 inches apart. She is allowed to plant them that way in all directions and anywhere she finds room. That way they are plentiful and yet not overcrowded. Her other rule is just that she completely covers them with soil. Sometimes they pop up out of the ground a bit but we just hill dirt around them. Because she plants so many, she picks them all the time too. They are delicious at any size.

    Do you have enough planted that if you thin the ones pictured, you still have others to keep growing, or are those your only ones?

  2. marc - yes they are still in the ground! I'll try to carefully thin them - STAT!

    I only have one other planting of this stuff and it is identical to this one so I think I'll need to thin those too. I have enough space to move them but I get the feeling from your response that I may lose them all. I'll follow your daughter's method and hope for the best.

  3. I like Marc's daughter's method, I might try it.

    What I do is plant onion sets (tiny bulbs sold in the spring) close together early in the spring, usually in mid-March. I mean close as in touching. Then as they grow, I thin them out and eat the "green onions", leaving a few inches between them so what isn't pulled in the spring have room to grow and form nice bulbs.

  4. Those look like they could be Egyptian Walking Onions, also called Top-set. These don't form a bulb but will divide like that in the ground and form seed bulblets on the top of the stalks....these are then planted to grow more onions. A sort of perpetual green onion, if you will. If you Google Egyptian Walking Onion you should be able to see some photos and get more info. And not to worry, they are very hardy! Hope this helps.

  5. connie - thanks for stopping by! After reading your reply I went on a hunt for the label for these. Looks like they are Sweet Yellow Spanish. I also looked up walking onions and they look very interesting! I think I'll look for those.

  6. I have had these walking onions for over 40 years and they are fun to have, but I have never met anyone till now who knew what they were. They take care of themselves by replanting. Too, they are good to eat. If anyone would like a couple of sets to get started just email me at, and I will send to you, until my crop runs out.

    Bill in Michigan