A previous article about potato onions provided detailed information on this unusual root crop, along with tips for growing them in the backyard garden. Today I wanted to share a few photos from this summer’s harvest of these unique onions.
Harvesting Potato Onions
The leaves died back weeks ago leaving the onions ready for harvest, but they were forgiving enough to wait until I got around to harvesting them. A few had sprouted and begun sending up new growth, but the majority sat patiently waiting to be dug up.
Harvesting was a breeze since these pungent bulbs don’t grow far beneath the soil’s surface. It’s still best to use a digging fork to carefully loosen the soil around the clusters of bulbs before lifting them from the garden.
Drying and Curing Potato Onions
After harvesting I spread the potato onions in a single layer on a tray to allow them to dry and cure before storing them. This treatment will help prevent mold and rotting after the bulbs are tucked away for future use in the kitchen.
The potato onions can be cured indoors in a spare room where they can be kept dry and maintained at your home’s normal room temperature.
If you’re a longtime gardener who has never seen a potato onion don’t be embarrassed, they’re really not common and I’ve never seen one fo sale at any grocer or farmer’s market. That’s a shame because they really are tasty and just as easy to cultivate as when caring for gourmet garlic.
Not Your Normal Everyday Onion Variety
The skins are copper colored and the potato onion bulbs resemble shallots, only much larger. Some of the potato onion bulbs will approach the size of regular onions, but if you compare the entire grouping, the potato onions are actually larger and may even produce better overall yields.
The similarity to shallot bulbs is due to the way that the potato onions grow into clusters of individual bulbs that are connected at their base where the root system is formed. Each cluster will consist or variously sized bulbs, all of which are suitable for eating or replanting in the garden.
Using Potato Onions for Seed or Feed
Unlike garlic seed stock, where you want to use the largest bulbs as your seed crop, I prefer to replant various sizes of potato onions for next year’s harvest. I plant my potato onions in the fall at the same time or a little earlier as my fall grown garlic. You can plant potato onions and pretty much forget about them until harvest time (or as in my case, well past harvest time).
I really enjoy the flavor of potato onions and cook them or include in recipes just as I would use regular yellow or red onion varieties. They are smaller and can be a little more tedious to peel and prepare for cooking. All in all, potato onions can do anything that the standard onion types can, and do it longer, as they hold up extremely well in storage.
So there you have it; easier growing, great tasting, and long storage capabilities; that’s why potato onions are the only type of onion that I regularly plant in my garden these days. If you haven’t tried them in your own garden, then what’s holding you back.
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