Thursday, 12 August 2010

Early Yellow Globe Onions

We grew these onions from seed this year. Most home gardeners plant sets, which are small onion bulbs which have been heat-treated to prevent them from going to seed. Onion seed has a reputation for being very slow to produce onions, and so it is, by comparison to sets. However, we've been very happy with how these have done. The closer of those two onions was nearly baseball sized! Of course, we did start them indoors in March, so definitely a much longer and slower process than growing onions from sets, and results have probably been a bit more uneven than if we had planted sets. However, if you want some of the more unusual types of onions, you will generally need to grow them from seed, as sets won't be available. And they'll be a lot cheaper too.

Early Yellow Globe are not exactly an unusual onion... or are they? They are an heirloom variety, about a hundred years old at this point. It's difficult to find information about them, as there are a plethora of onions with very similar names, and which are in fact very similar onions. It seems that Early Yellow Globe is a strain or improved version of Danvers Yellow Globe (aka Yellow Globe Danvers), but there is also a Southport Yellow Globe, an Ohio Yellow Globe, a Downing Yellow Globe, a Brigham Yellow Globe, and no doubt others. You get the picture: there are an awful lot of onions that are round and yellow, and named accordingly. A number of these, I suspect, are versions of the original yellow onion which have been adapted by selection for particular areas, and of which Early Yellow Globe seems to be an intermediate form. Of course, these are an older, unhybridized and open-pollinated form of onion. Almost all onions sold today are hybrids. I'm just starting to read up on onions and their reproduction by seeds, and it's very interesting. Seed can be produced that will create offspring that have female flower parts only - so, no seed produced unless the appropriate male plants are added to the mix.

Early Yellow Globe is described as a small, early (mid-season really) onion, which rquires an intermediate day-length (13 to 14 hours of light per day) to properly form bulbs. (Onions are highly dependant on day-length to grow, which is why different varieties are grown in the north than in the south. Reliable seed sellers will provide this information.) "Early" in an onion still translates to about 110 days to maturity, at least that's the official prognosis. Ours took more like 140 days, or an extra month. Perhaps we should have picked them smaller, but I'm not complaining. The tops aren't keeling over yet, which is the sign that onions need to be harvested and cured for storage shortly.

They are a fairly mild, sweet onion, as onions go, at least right now in the middle of summer. Didn't stop me from crying like a baby as I cut them up, though. They've got plenty in the way of fumes. Like many stinky onions, they are good for storage. No doubt they will become more pungent when stored.


Kevin Kossowan said...

Oooo. Envy. I started some Copra and shallots from seed this year, and they are teenie. I'm not too sad though, I'll just leave them in the ground and enjoy them next year.

CallieK said...

Mine are teeny too ( red onions, and Russian shallots).

I like the idea of growing heirloom onions. Maybe we should start a seed exchange!

Ferdzy said...

Well, I'm not yet successful in saving onion seeds, and it may be a few years yet. Don't forget onions are biennials.

You guys can leave your small onions until next year, but they should be eaten early in the season or they will flower. Which isn't the end of the world either, you will just have to remove the flowering stalk as it is quite woody. Your onions may also get smaller rather than larger once they start to flower, before they get bigger again.

If you have hybrid onions, they won't produce seed. There is open-pollinated onion seed out there, and if that's what you want you need to make sure that that is what you are buying. If it doesn't say, then it probably isn't.

Actually, I understand that sets may produce smaller onion than seeds, but more consistently of a medium size. Mine are kind of all over in terms of size.