Winter Onions – One Year Update

Last year, we received some winter onion bulbets from Ann’s Mama.  We planted all 16 bulbets in November of last year.  15 of them sprouted and grew all year long.  That’s not a bad germination rate.

Winter onion bulbets growing from the top of the onion stalk.

Throughout the year we collected the bulbet clusters if they broke off of the stems, which did happen to quite a few.  At the end of the season we collected all the remaining bulbet clusters and placed them on our drying rack to dry.  Then we harvested the bulbs which grow in the ground just like normal onions.  They were not huge, but they were about the same size as our yellow onions which grew in the row next to the winter onions.  All of our onions were between slightly larger than golf balls to slightly smaller than tennis balls.  I am sure that the soil in the garden lead to them not getting really big, but the point is that the winter onion bulbs were the same size as our yellow onions with the addition of having free bulbets off the top to grow next years crop.

Winter onions and our regular yellow onions.

The winter onions had a slight reddish tint to them, not as red as a red onion, but definitely not a white or yellow onion.  To be honest they look exactly like shallots, only onion shaped.  If you have ever seen a shallot, they are a little more elongated than an onion, not much but a little.

3 gallon bucket of winter onion bulbets.

But, I digress.

I did not realize how many bulbets we had collected from the 15 winter onions we had planted until I went to get them off of the drying rack to plant them this year.  I had to go get a 3 gallon bucket.  These bulbets are planted just like regular onion sets, about an inch deep and 6 inches apart with the sprouty end pointing up.  Planting them reminded me more of planting garlic as you pull the bulbets off of the cluster and plant them individually as you would pull a garlic bulb apart and plant the individual cloves.

A cluster of winter onion bulbets with a single bulbet removed.

Last year, with the 16 bulbets we had, we planted about half a row.  By the time I was done planting the bulbets we harvested from those 16 bulbets, we had 4 rows of onions.  Ann even gave a few clusters to her sister.  While I didn’t count them, the approximate guesstimation is around 300 bulbets.  All from 16 little bulbets last year!!!!  Now, a lot of them were rather small, and I am sure the germination rate from the smaller ones will be less than what we experienced from larger bulbets last year, but if they have any germination rate whatsoever, we will have a ridiculous amount of winter onions next year.

I did plant them from largest to smallest so I can get some idea of how the germination rate is affected by the size.


More From the Winter Onion Series:
Our First Winter Onions
Winter Onions – 4 Month Update
Winter Onions – 5 Month Update (Comparison to Annual Onion Sets)
Winter Onions – 6 Month Update
Harvesting and Curing Onions
Winter Onions – One Year Update