Analysing our 2022 garden: onions, shallots and garlic

Okay, it’s that time! I’ll be working on a serious of posts, going over how our 2022 garden went, what worked, what didn’t, and what didn’t even happen at all. This is help give us an idea of what we want to do in the future, what we don’t want to do in the future, and what changes need to be made.

What a mixed bag it was for onions and garlic we had!

I’ll start with the shallots.

The Results:

This picture was taken in June. We were still dealing with flooding. The shallots you see here were from sets. Of the shallots we grew from seed, few survived to be transplanted. You can just see some at the very bottom of the photo, and those quickly died.

As did almost all the shallots from sets. They just rotted away.

Conclusion:

The previous year, we were able to grow shallots from sets successfully, even during drought, so at least there is that option in the future. It’s growing them from seed that seems to be the biggest challenge. For 2023, we are trying a different variety. Hopefully, we will have better success with those!


Then there were the Red Baron bunching onions. These were planted in a bed along the retaining wall of the old kitchen garden.

The Results:

I won’t even try to dig up a picture of those. We had better success starting them indoors compared to the year before, but once they were transplanted, that was it. They were a total fail. I think a lot of it had to do with the bed being too shaded by the ornamental apple trees at each corner of the old kitchen garden. They did get pruned, and that space get a lot more light now, but it was likely too little, too late.

That and I think the cats were rolling on them, too.

Conclusion:

While I would really like to grow this variety of bunching onions, we’ll move away from them completely for 2023, and save them for another year in the future.


Our fall garlic was both a win and a fail. We bought the same varieties as the year before, planted them in the fall and had them well mulched for the winter.

The Results:

One variety of garlic, Porcelain Music, was planted in the main garden area, taking up half of a low raised bed. This picture was taken in May. These did very well! In fact, we were able to save some of them to plant in the fall, for our 2023 garden!

Then there were the varieties we planted in the low raised beds in the east yard. These were Purple Stripe and Rocambole. The above picture was also taken in May.

One bed had so few survive, I ended up transplanting them to the other bed, so I could use that bed to transplant the Yellow Pear tomatoes into. While we did have garlic to harvest, the few bulbs remaining were very small.

Conclusion:

The two varieties that failed were, I believe, the victims of our unusually long, cold end of winter. I think the low raised beds simply got too cold, and stayed cold for too long.

But the ones in the low raised bed in the main garden seemed to be better protected somehow. So when we planted garlic this fall, we used another of these low raised beds. Along with the garlic we saved ourselves, I ended up getting a new variety of hard neck, plus a variety of soft neck, garlic to try. In the future, we will shoot to be able to plant a LOT more garlic than this, but for this fall, that’s all we were able to get done. Hopefully, we will have better growing conditions next year, and all three varieties will succeed!


Now we move on to the bulb onions. We had a mix of onions from seed, and from sets.

In the above photo, we have Red of Florence red onions, grown from seed. The yellow onions are both from seeds and sets – there’s no real difference in size between them! These were planted around the edges of low raised beds, to help deter critters.

These are the Tropeana Lunga onions, grown from seed and transplanted into the high raised bed.

These tiny red onions were from sets planted around the Yellow Pear tomatoes.

The Results:

The Red of Florence and Tropeana Lunga onions both did very well! The Tropeana Lunga took a lot longer to mature, and even after they were harvested, they kept trying to grow rather than cure! We all liked their longer shape that makes them easier to cut up for cooking. The flavour of both are good, too.

The yellow bulb onions were both smaller than they had the potential to be, but that had a lot to do with our growing conditions conditions overall.

The red onions from sets that were planted with the Yellow Pear tomatoes barely grew at all. I think they were simply overshadowed by the tomatoes, which got massive.

We did plant extras that didn’t fit in their beds in the retaining wall of the old kitchen garden. Those pretty much all failed, partly because the cats kept rolling on them.

Conclusion:

As you can see in the above photo, flooding was a problem in the main garden area, but the low raised beds were just high enough to protect the things we planted in them, including the onions that were planted around the edges of several of them.

We would very happily grow the Red of Florence and Tropeana Lunga again. Unfortunately, I was not able to get seeds for either of them for 2023. We also went with different varieties of seeds for yellow onions and shallots. Whether or not we get more sets in the spring is yet to be decided.

Growing from seed is touch and go; part of the challenge with starting the seeds indoors is keeping the cats away! The main thing about growing from seed is that you get a lot more plants for your money compared to sets. Another bonus is, onions don’t get transplant shock, so large numbers of seeds can be sown close together, then they’re just pulled apart when it’s time to transplant. How successful we are at starting them from seed will help determine what we get for sets in the spring, if any.

Onions are something we find we use a LOT of. Once we started growing them ourselves, we just can’t seem to grow enough! Thankfully, they can be interplanted with quite a few other things, making for effective use of space. We also like having a variety of types. One of the traits we look for when choosing varieties is anything that is good for winter storage.

The Re-Farmer

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