Let’s face it, sometimes it’s nice to have food plants just grow. No buying, no planting, no coddling, those are some of the wonders of growing perennial onions. Oh yes, they also taste delightful!
I first read about Welsh onions and Egyptian walking onions in Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre and The Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City, by Eric Toensmeier with Jonathan Bates. They are actually scallions and do not form a bulb, but the greens have a mild oniony flavor that recently caused a professed onion hater to actually covet them. Both onions begin growing under the snow and are ready to start cutting for salads or stir-fries in late winter. You will still be enjoying them well into November!
Welsh onions spread by clumping and by seeds that form en masse within the flower head that starts appearing in May. Once they become thick, just dig some up and replant them near a fruit tree, berry bush or strawberries. When the flower head dries out, the seeds are easy to collect and spread around the garden of your choice.
The bulbils that form on top of the flowering stalk of Egyptian Walking Onions are a sight to behold! Like the Welsh Onions, the Egyptians also spread by clumping. Eventually, the weight of the bulbils pulls down the stalk and they plant themselves. That’s where the “walking” part comes in.
If the idea of less work and more eating appeals to you, why not check out either or both of these perennial marvels. You will enjoy them year after year after year.
Jim French is a perennial permaculture student, and yes, he does have Welsh onion seed to share.