2012 Seed Choices, Part 2

Part one is here

I realize that growing over 100 different varieties of annual garden plants is a bit... odd. Most (sane) people get by with one or two different varieties of each plant they grow, so why do I have so many?

Because you can take the woman out of the science lab, but you can't take the science lab out of the woman :)

In other words, I'm still trying to pick the varieties that do well here. This is the time to grow as many different things as I can, since I do not have to rely 100% on the garden to feed me. If I have a failure, as disappointing as it is (and yes, I am looking at you, squash crop that failed for the second year running!), it's not the end of the world. So I want to experiment now, in order to eventually narrow it down to the varieties that are suited to my garden and my tastes.

I also grow different varieties to fill different roles  - and onions are a great example of this.

I'm growing seven different types of onions this year, plus leeks and three varieties of garlic. Yeah, I know, most people only grow one or two, but...

I need (want!) storage onions (both red and yellow), onions for canning (both small ones for pickling and large ones for use in things like salsa) and onions for fresh eating. I've only grown large onions from sets before, and while they are a good choice, the varieties available are limited, and cost can start creeping up, especially if you are ordering them from a catalog and have to pay for shipping. 

So this year I decided to try seeds. I picked Ailsa Craig for a large, white fresh eating onion, Rossa di Milano for a red storage onion, Australian Brown for a yellow storage onion, and White Pickling for a pickling onion (obviously!). I'm also going to compare the other varieties against the White Pickling, to see if I can't simply use one of them, at a smaller size, for pickling. And you can't forget green onions scallions (most people call them green onions, but they're really scallions). I still have seed from two years ago, which quite possibly won't grow (onion seeds don't last long) so I bought more this year, forgetting that I had also bought some last year. Oh well! So, I have Hardy White Bunching (old seed), Evergreen Bunching and Southport White Globe for green onions scallions. 

And that's how you very quickly get to seven varieties for one crop ;)

The first year I grew garlic, I simply grabbed a head from the grocery store, pulled apart the cloves and planted them in early spring. And it worked okay. I got a few heads - not enough to last the entire winter, but not bad. Last year, I did the same thing, but planted them at the traditional time, in fall. And every last one of them rotted in the ground. Sigh. This year, I grabbed three different heirloom varieties from a local farm stand, and I'm waiting until spring to plant them. Of course, it would have been nice if I had labelled the *$&@% things, but as it stands, I know one of the varieties but can't remember what the other two are. Kids, don't be like me: write things down!

Leeks are a new crop for me this year, and so just I have one variety (Blue Solaise), for a quick look-see to assess how they grow, how they keep, and whether or not it's worth growing them at all. If I decide to continue growing them, next year I'll add more varieties to see which is the best for me. And that's the general plan for new crops: a small trial the first year, with a large planting with different varieties in the following years, eventually leading to picking one (or more) to grow from then on.

So that sums up this year's allium crops, all 11 varieties. Yikes!

Katy says to get the dratted seeds packs off of her cushion, so she can have a nap. Lazy dog!


  1. Hubby has started some seeds...the bok choi and the broccoli have lovely babies sprouting up from their little beds already. gotta love it! --11 varieties of allium--oh, MY! ;)

    1. I know! I really do try to limit myself... I just started seeds this week, and I can't wait until things actually start popping up - it means spring is coming :)

  2. It never occurred to me that I could plant garlic in the spring. I think I may have to, my veg beds have been sitting wet since autumn and I think all my garlic will have rotted.

    1. If you plant in spring, you get smaller heads (naturally), but it's better than rotten garlic. I have raised beds, but I think the winters here are still too mild and too wet for fall planting :(

  3. Also, the bedrock appears to be very close to the surface here so there isn't much drainage. I think I'll have to work towards a combination of field drains and raised beds.

  4. You're not the only one with eleven different alliums in their yard! Good for you I say.
    I have similar reasons for wanting variety. I planted:
    Leeks, 2 varieties from seed (alas, all killed by frost)
    Garlic chives (round foliage. Eaten by wildlife.)
    Chinese garlic chives (flat foliage, spicier than the round leaf type. Still alive.)
    Garlic from the store, thriving!
    Green salad onions (scallions), Welsh... 2 harvests so far
    Salad onions (scallions), red rooted type... growing super slow
    Texas 1015 sweet yellow onion- Under attack by wildlife
    Red Spanish red storage onion... growing super slow
    Shallots, dutch... Thriving!
    Cipollini "Gold Coin" sweet pickling onion- All Eaten by wildlife.

    1. Glad I'm not the only one - and, I'm adding more this year!! The wildlife around here doesn't seem to bother with my alliums (they eat enough other things though!), except for the leek leaves over the winter. Darn rabbits!



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