Sweet Onion (Allium Cepa Var Proliferatum), Perennial Onion

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The onion or catawissa onion, very rustic (-17° C), is part of what is customary to name the perpetual or perennial vegetables since indeed, with its "incredible" side, it is makes it possible to produce edible aerial bulbs to pick but which eventually fall if you let them and germinate to offer a new plant! So here is a culture for lazy gardener!

The onion has deciduous, upright, tubular green leaves with hollow stems up to 70-80 cm at the end of which are formed bulblets that can be organized in 2 to 3 stages of 4 to 6 bulbils pointing to the outside like curious noses. The spring pink bloom is noticeable, it is discreet. In winter, the foliage and stems disappear to resurface in the spring.

Rocambola onion (Allium cepa var.proliferatum), Perennial Onion or Cattawissa Onion

The taste and use of the bulbils are identical to the common onions (Allium cepa), while the stems are closer to the shallot. However, the production of bulbils will probably not allow you to replace the use of classic onions but it is a pretty amazing crop to plant in the kitchen garden!

  • Family: Alliaceae
  • Type: Perennial vegetable
  • Origin: Mediterranean Basin
  • Color: pink flowers
  • Sowing: yes
  • Cutting: no
  • Planting: February-March or October-November
  • Harvest: summer
  • Height: up to 80 cm

Ideal soil and exposure for the onion

The onion is cultivated in full sun in a rich, fresh and well drained soil because it does not like excess water.

Date of sowing and planting of the onion

It is possible to make seedlings but the planting of bulbils every 20 to 25 cm is much simpler, making rows spaced 40 cm apart.

Perennial onions that are a few years old (4 to 5 years old) and tired can be divided by replanting the bulbs.

Board of maintenance and culture of the onion

In summer drought, it may be necessary to water punctually, but in general the onion is well tolerant of these climatic events. Regular hoeing breaks down the crust so water can seep in and weed.

Harvesting, conservation and use of the onion

Everything is eaten in the incredible onion! The stems without bulblets are cut from May to September as and when needed to be eaten raw, chopped on a salad, or just fried to raise dishes.

The aerial bulbils are harvested about 6 months after planting, when they are easily detached from the stem, in July and August and are eaten like traditional onions: you can dry them on shelves in the shade and warm in a ventilated place; later, they can be stored in a net in a cellar or a saddler or kept in white vinegar as gherkins.

Diseases, pests and parasites of the onion fungal

Excess moisture can promote the development of fungal diseases causing rotting of the neck or bulb.

Location and favorable association of the onion

Like all onions, this one does not appreciate to be next to legumes (peas, beans, beans...), it will prefer the neighborhood of carrots, strawberry, lettuce, cucumber, tomato for example.

A controversy of specialists exists concerning the onion and catawissa onion, respectively designated under the botanical names ofAllium cepa var. viviparum and D'Allium cepa var. proliferatumfor some, they must be distinguished, for others it is the same variety.

It should be noted, however, that there is some rocambole garlic (Allium sativum var. scorodoprasum) which develops on the same pattern, and the perpetual shallot (Allium fistulosum).

(photo by garden of the rocks - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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