Spring onions, winter onions? Yes, both of them twice, and so that it doesn’t get boring, there are also summer onions. You will learn more about all of these onions, and there are also completely different onions that are much more interesting than the usual spring, summer and winter onion. These onions are more durable than the commercial cultivars, are easier to grow and are so robust that maintenance is limited to watering. But first to the winter onions and the spring onions.

The winter onions 

Onions belong to the genus Leek, Allium, which currently consists of 920 species (World Checklist of Selected Plant Families). So a bit of choice and maybe the reason why there are two winter onions:

  1. Our common kitchen onion or table onion “Allium cepa” is called “winter onion” when it is sown in autumn. Cultivated over the winter, it ripens the next spring and is then harvested. A good idea in times of need, because the cultivation area can be used over the winter, but the onions are very soft and can hardly be stored. Since today it is more about the need for healthy vegetables than about hunger, resorting to the nearest supermarket is probably more recommendable than growing winter onions. You can do more exciting things with your acreage than hibernating onions, e.g. B. planting vegetables to be harvested in winter, there is a lot from Asian mustard to red-purple carrot to sugar loaf. The table onion is therefore only very rarely grown as a winter onion, Usually a kitchen onion is sown or planted in spring and can be harvested from August to October. This kitchen onion therefore needs a summer season to be ready for harvest and is therefore called summer onion.
  2. Botanically, the second winter onion is a different species from Allium cepa. Its name is Allium fistulosum, it is seldom grown in industrial plant production, but it is sometimes marketed from organic farming.

The spring onions

Because it was so beautiful, there are also two spring onions in the genus Allium:

  1. The winter onion “Allium fistulosum” is known in the German language not only as winter onion, but also as spring onion (and as perpetual onion, meat leek, spring onion, coarse chives, hollow onion, locusts leek, scallops, spring onions, spring onions, tubular onions, Schlotten onions, scalloped onions, Cut onions, white florentines, winter hedge onions and onion tubers).
  2. The trade has redefined the spring onion: It also names special varieties of the Allium cepa spring onion. Which have been bred so that they do not form onions, but rather long, soft, juicy stems that grow particularly quickly. They should also grow evenly, wear enormously and taste extremely mild, sounds like a good onion for families with small children, but is probably not for gourmets.

More interesting Zwiebelsorts

You can grow onions all year round in your garden with the familiar varieties of normal kitchen onions. In Germany, however, they are already being grown on around 9,000 hectares of arable land. In highly developed cultivars that grow quickly, evenly and in the desired size, but have become very susceptible and require a lot of care due to breeding that is one-sidedly geared to trade needs. These onions can get yellow streak disease, the onion fly, powdery mildew, and a few more diseases / pests; Since they are no longer strong enough to suppress competitive vegetation on their own, the fields have to be kept free of weeds at all times.

In order to keep diseases and weeds under control, acaricides and bactericides, herbicides and insecticides, molluscicides and repellants against game damage, rodenticides, viricides and growth regulators (artificial hormones) are used in onion fields in agriculture. 219 means outputs the search query “onion vegetables” in the directory of approved plant protection products of the Federal Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety; Anyone who finds out about the ingredients of these agents wonders how the terms “protection” and “security” got into the name of this office.

You can do without all of this in your own garden, the robust organic onion is already an attractive alternative to the weak Allium cepa varieties of the agricultural industry. But you can also grow completely different onions in the garden, not just species that are more interesting for gourmets. Here is a brief overview of which onion types are available for the home garden and which are worth growing:

  • Allium cepa var. Cepa is the kitchen onion, grown in very, very many varieties
  • It can be grown from seeds, young plants and onion sets, but God knows not the most exciting varieties for private gardens
  • From this Allium cepa there are also spring onion varieties for continuous onion leaf harvest
  • The commercial cultivars are mostly designed for annual cultivation
  • They can just about survive flowering in the second year, but usually no longer reach the actual lifespan of an Allium
  • If you want unproblematic, long-lasting bulbs in your garden, you should avoid these growing products
  • The second group of onions is called Allium cepa var. Aggregatum (Aggregatum-Group)
  • Synonym Allium cepa var. Ascalonicum, these bulbs are much more interesting
  • You can still reproduce with bulbs
  • And with shallot, potato onion and scotch, they also offer variations of the kitchen onion that are interesting in terms of taste
  • We also recommend Allium fistulosum, the spring onion, winter onion, many-name onion
  • It is called the eternal onion because it grows persistently, i.e. for several years and is capable of reproduction several times
  • In addition, it is absolutely frost hardy (from Siberia), undemanding and ready to harvest for a long time, what more could you want …
  • Perhaps more mass “around the bottom”, A. ascalonicum and fistulosum both only produce small, delicate “luxury” onions
  • This mass brings z. B. Allium cepa ‘Ailsa Craig’, a particularly large, tasty, healthy and seed-firm vegetable onion
  • It is an exquisite breed of the Kaiserstühler Garten Foundation, which endeavors to collect the seeds of old cultivated plants
  • You can get the seeds of this vegetable onion at www.samengarten.de, as well as other exciting onion seeds
  • Like, for example, the single onion Allium cepa x proliferum, which instead of flowers forms bulbs that sprout again on the plant
  • Also an idea: Field garlic, or field garlic, summer garlic, Allium ampeloprasum
  • There are several cultivars of it: pearl onions, giant garlic, Egyptian leek

For the sake of completeness: The cultivated leek (leek) is the fourth cultivar of the Allium ampeloprasum (leek group). The alliums give even more, wild garlic and garlic, chives and chives and garlic, the claims of “all these alliums” are basically the same:

Soil and location

Onions grow well in humus-rich, pH-neutral soil with a medium nutrient content. So simply a good garden soil that is neither over-acidic (pH value below 6), nor too calcareous (pH value above 7) and normally permeable or capable of storing water.

Moisture accumulates in less permeable soils, onions cannot ripen properly, they do not taste good and they only have a short shelf life. In encrusted soils with a solid surface layer, which show cracks due to salt precipitation (overfertilization), onions cannot ripen because the nutrient supply is disturbed.

The soil for onions can be loosened by digging in the autumn before, in this case ripe compost should be worked under in nutrient-poor soils, onions do not want to be placed in fresh or freshly fertilized soil. In cases of doubt, permanent soil remediation is better and lasts longer, ensuring a higher humus content, strong roots and a stable crumb structure. You can do this by green manuring with grasses and cruciferous vegetables. Depending on the condition of the soil, these plants need a long vegetation period before they can develop strong roots. Suitable grasses are, for. B. fodder millet and Sudan grass, green rye, German ryegrass, annual ryegrass, Italian ryegrass, wheat, as cruciferous Chinese cabbage turnips, oil radish, summer rape, winter rape, summer rape, winter rape, white mustard,

Onions have few demands on the location, but it can and should be warm and sunny. If you have a harsh climate, you should give the onions a location with the most favorable microclimate possible (the onion-growing areas are in warm regions of Germany, old wild onions are found in vineyards).

Stick, sow, plant?

You can grow onions all year round in a variety of ways:

1. Sowing onions
The onion seeds are called “sowing onions” and are available in many varieties from biodynamic cultivation. Sowing is easy:

  • Sow when the soil is dry in spring
  • Depending on the region, this is the case between mid-March and early April
  • 1-2 cm deep, plant spacing 5 to 15 cm, the spacing determines the bulb size
  • For the largest possible onions, you have to separate the seedlings
  • And make sure that no competitive growth between the onions survives
  • But not an obligation for laid-back gardeners, if you let bulbs grow close together, they will eradicate the competition themselves
  • The onions will stay smaller, but you can harvest a lot of onion leek
  • If you want to grow winter onions or if you are primarily concerned with the bulb foliage, sow in late summer / autumn

2. Planting onions
You can also plant early young plants, which are increasingly being offered. Especially from old, exciting onion varieties, because the young plants can only be grown from the varieties that can still form brood onions. The young onion plants are sold from the three-leaf stage and can also be planted at a distance of about 30 x 30 cm.

3. Professional onion cultivation
In the trade, onions are “plugged”, onions are grown en masse from the trading locations and sold in spring. Some organically grown onion sets are already available today, the advantage of setting onions that are set in March / April is that they are ready for harvest as early as July and competitive growth in the bed can be controlled more easily.

The onions are put into small holes (wood) in the earth so that the tip can just be seen. Gardeners with hungry and determined birds can sink the tip into the ground, since birds do not dig, the onion sets can grow on in peace. Onion sets bring the greatest harvest, but the best shelf life should be well-ripened onions grown from seeds.

The onion in the herbaceous border

Onions belong to the leek genus, and the leek genus belongs to the amaryllis family, which not only sounds like ornamental value, but also many of ours with amaryllis, brunsvigie, guernsey lilies, autumn gold cups, ismene, klivie, daffodil, knight’s star, snowdrop and ornamental lily most beautiful flowering plants. There are also ornamental plants in the genus Allium: the star ball leek (Allium cristophii) has been known for a long time, but around 40 ornamental onion species and varieties have been bred and are enjoying increasing popularity.

You can try these, but you don’t have to if you want to pull onions anyway. You can also simply place your edible onions in the shrub bed, in nice little green tuffs, and next to them flowering shrubs with leaves that don’t look like onion at all and therefore won’t end up in the kitchen. In addition to Allium, the following flowering perennials should feel good:

  • Frauenmantel (Alchemilla mollis)
  • Funkien (Costa)
  • Peonies (Paeonia lactiflora)
  • Pracht-Storchschnabel (Germanium grande)
  • Steppe Sage (Salvia neorosa)

If you allow some of the bulbous plants to develop a flower, there is absolutely no need for them to hide next to their neighbors.

Caring for the onions

is quite simple: water regularly while growing and not soaking wet that permanently wet soil causes the roots to rot. Keep late stored onions very dry shortly before harvest, the drier harvested, the better storable.

Onions in good soil no longer need to be fertilized, in very poor soil they can withstand a little ripe compost over the course of the season. No fresh manure, with rapidly available nitrogen there is a risk that the onion will develop more leaves than onion and that it will not ripen well, and the manure also attracts onion flies.

Individually planted onions should be regularly cleared of competitive vegetation (or underplanted with ground cover such as oregano); Onions that are close together usually do this on their own. If you pile up the spring onions lightly, you can harvest larger onions later.

Choosing the onion is the real secret to successful onion growing. He gives onions that you can use to grow spring onions, summer onions and winter onions with the least amount of effort. Which come back the next year and the years after that, which reproduce by themselves, hardly need any care, can withstand any frost and, if desired, even develop impressive flowers.

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