As our fall planting season winds down, we end with the onion family. This week we will be planting scallions, chives, and two varieties of onions. Earlier in the fall we planted onions and leeks.
Of all these members of the onion family, chives are the smallest, and are grown as a perennial herb. Chives grow in a clump, like grass, and the green leaves are chopped and used as an herb in cooking. Chives grow best in full sun and thrive in our cooler weather. They will flower with attractive lavender flowers in the spring. These flowers are edible. Chives can struggle in the summer heat, but usually rebound with cooler weather.
Scallions are similar to green onions… (green onions are onions that are picked before they have matured). Scallions are also similar to shallots. Although shallots grow a bulb with cloves like garlic, scallions grow a bulb like an onion, just smaller. Scallions are grown for the long white shank. The green leaves can also be eaten and are milder and more tender than onion leaves. Scallions take a shorter time to grow than onions and are usually ready to harvest in 70-90 days.
Onions can be grown by planting seeds, transplants, or sets. Onion seeds should be planted in the fall. October is a good time to plant them, as they will sprout and grow slowly through the fall and winter. Plant the seeds in row about ½ inch deep. As the plants grow, thin them until they are four inches apart. You can eat the thinned onions as green onions, or plant them elsewhere as transplants.
If you miss the window to plant onion seeds in the fall, you can plant transplants early in the spring, and still get onions by late spring. Onions are ready to harvest when 3/4ths of the tops have fallen over. Gently lift the bulbs out of the ground. Cut the stalks an inch or so above the bulb and let dry in a shaded are before storage.