Harvest Monday, March 14, 2016 – Walking Onion

Walking Onion (Allium cepa var. proliferum) aka Egyptian Walking Onion, Tree Onion, Topsetting Onion, Winter Onion, Multiplier Onion …

My first experience growing Walking Onions was 2+ years ago when I received gifts of Walking Onions bulbils from Diary of a Tomato and Mary N.

I planted some of the bulbils in full sun and some in partial shade. All grew but the ones planted in full sun were much more robust (as seen in photos below).

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Walking Onions Bulbils

Walking Onion is a perennial onion that is easy to grow and is very hardy. It does not really walk. Got the name because the bulbils weigh down the flower stalk causing it to bend. Wherever the bulbils touch the ground. A  new clump will grow/walk a little distance from the mother plant.

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Walking Onions in Early Spring

Early April, I start harvesting the tender greens with the bulbs as needed and use as scallion or spring onions substitute.

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Tender Walking Onions Greens

At this stage the flavor is very mild.

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Walking Onions Scapes/Flower Stalks

By middle/end of May, the plants start to send out scapes (flower stalks). Can still be used as scallion (including the scapes) but the flavor is a bit stronger. Good for cooking.

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Bulbils forming on Walking Onions Flower Stalks

By early June, bulbils begin to form and the flower stalks become very stiff so as to be able to support the bulbils.

I have 2 different varieties of walking onion, one sends out straight scapes the other sends out curly scapes that is very dramatic in the garden. Both produce bulbils.

The bulbils on the straight scapes have pretty pink colors the bulbils on the curly scapes are not as colorful (note smaller bulbils growing from the first and much larger set of bulbils). Both add charm and beauty among my perennials.

I harvest the bulbils (around July) before the 2nd set of bulbils appears and use them like pearl onions. They are a bit of a pain to peel but soaking them in warm water for 10 – 30 minutes make the chore easier.

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Unpeeled & Peeled Walking Onions Bulbils. The 2 round disks in front are cross sections, unfortunately the rings are not visible.

Walking Onions bulbils store very well. The July, 2015 harvest was still nice and firm as shown in the above photo taken on March 1, 2016.

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New bulbs form beside the flower stalk and send out new tender greens for fall harvest.

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Photo taken early November

Look closely in the center of the photo and you can see clumping mature onion bulbs.

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The below ground walking onion bulbs.

I harvest the mature bulbs and use in recipes calling for onions or shallots, the flavor is a bit stronger than shallots.

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The above photos shows what the Walking Onions look like after the winter (left photo taken February 29, 2016). Tidied up the area a bit (right photo taken March 1, 2016). In a few weeks I will be harvesting and enjoying tender walking onion greens and bulbs.

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Copyright © by Norma Chang. All Rights Reserved. Do not use/repost any photos and/or articles without permission.

Do visit Dave at Our Happy Acres for more Harvest Mondays

About Norma Chang

I am the author/publisher of 2 user-friendly Chinese cookbooks: "My Students' Favorite Chinese Recipes (updated edition)" and "Wokking Your Way to Low Fat Cooking" A gardener who enjoys cooking and eating and loves to think outside the box A garden volunteer at Locust Grove Heritage Vegetable Garden Conduct hands-on cooking workshops for teenagers Conduct cultural programs for children and family Conduct healthy cooking classes for adults
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28 Responses to Harvest Monday, March 14, 2016 – Walking Onion

  1. Sounds like an odd name for an onion…walking onion but they look like they are growing arms and legs and could just walk off. I bet each of these onions have a really different flavor so it will be fun experimenting in the kitchen with your harvest. Take Care

  2. Thanks for all of the information about the Walking Onion, I’ve always wondering what they were, but hadn’t taken the time to investigate 🙂 Hope you have a great week, Norma!

  3. Angie@Angie's Recipes says:

    I am in awe of your gardening skill, Norma.

  4. Such an interesting plant. Thanks for sharing this great information Norma! I grew it some time ago, and I believe a neighbor gave me some bulbils. I think she called it an Egyptian Onion but it looks the same as yours.

  5. Michelle says:

    What a fun plant to grow, and versatile too.

  6. chnse says:

    Norma, thank you for the timeline of growing walking onion plant. I planted mine from bulbils last year, and I terribly want to have this perennial onion variety in our garden. I was anxious about it’s rate all autumn and winter…but, reading your very informative blog post today, I’m assured that all is well:) Now, I can’t wait for summer to see the little bulbs.. to taste and to propagate more:)

  7. ChgoJohn says:

    I’ve never heard of these, Norma. What an interesting plant! I wish I had more space in my garden. I’d love to have a section set aside to let them roam about. 🙂

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello John,
      They do not need a lot of garden space a corner is just fine. I will be more than happy to send you some bulbils if you are interested.

      • ChgoJohn says:

        That’s very kind of you, Norma. I do not plant anything in my soil. Although my current dog is very fastidious, his predecessors weren’t nearly so and , even though it’s been 8 years, I hesitate to use any of the soil for edible plants. That’s why I use only containers and the new raised bed for my veggies. My raised bed is full to the limit but I could always build another … 🙂

      • Norma Chang says:

        Hello John,
        Just drop me a note at a later date if and when you find some usable space.

  8. Eva Taylor says:

    This time of year, when the greens begin to poke their way to the surface is the time I find most hopeful. Seeing the first signs of growth makes me so happy. This week is promised to be dreary and rainy but at least it is beginning to warm up. Your walking onions look very cool, do you need to let these sit like you do garlic before you use them?

  9. Kristy says:

    Now I would definitely like to grow these! We use lots of scallions, onions and shallots and these seem easier to grow than regular onions (which we tried years ago without much luck). I like that they’re called walking onions too. Very whimsical!

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Kristy,
      Walking onions are super easy to grow and they are perennials, plant once and harvest year after year. Will send you bulbils when you are ready, just drop me a note.

  10. cheri says:

    Very informative post Norma, will have to plant these in my garden straight away, I always learn so much reading your posts. For some reason I do not always receive your email. Now I try to remember and check your blog.

    • Norma Chang says:

      Hello Cheri,
      Glad you found my post informative, looking forward to reading about your walking onions. Sorry to learn about the problem you are having receiving my e-mails, do sign up again and hopefully problem solved.

  11. Karen says:

    What an interesting post, Norma. I’d heard of walking onions but really didn’t know anything about them.

  12. Koooool, although I had no clue they were called Walking Onions, I always thought they were shallots, are they? I have never grown any kind of onion, might have a crack next year. As always, thanks for sharing, I learn so much when I visit.

  13. Pingback: Harvest Monday, May 2, 2016 – Widow Box Harvest + Walking Onion | Garden to Wok

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