2018 Allium Review

All the garlic has been cleaned and weighed now, and as I suspected it was not a great year for it. I believe the combination of a colder than usual winter and a super wet spring made for problems. I lost a lot of bulbs over the winter, and several more rotted as they were sizing up in June. I discovered that when I started digging them. We will have plenty to eat, though I wonder how long some of the bulbs will keep given the wet soil conditions at digging time.

harvesting the early garlic

harvesting the early garlic

A tough growing year like 2018 helps me weed out the cultivars that can’t handle the growing conditions in our garden. As Warren Buffett famously told Berkshire Hathaway investors one year at their annual meeting, “you only find out who is swimming naked when the tide goes out.” Lots of my garlic was swimming naked this year, both figuratively and literally, when we got 10 inches of rain in June as the bulbs were maturing!

Xian garlic

Xian garlic

Last year the artichoke variety Simonetti made the largest bulbs, and that’s true again this year. But last year they averaged 3.05 ounces each, while this year they averaged 2.17 ounces. All of the varieties were smaller this year, with some of the bulbs being so small as to be barely worth peeling and using.

Simonetti garlic

Simonetti garlic

I tried a new artichoke variety from Baker Creek called K’s Backyard that made the second largest bulbs, with an average weight of 1.74 ounces. I plan on growing it again next year for sure.

K's Backyard garlic

K’s Backyard garlic

And the silverskin Sicilian Silver was third largest. The silverskins are the best keepers for me, and I count on them to keep us supplied in garlic when all the others are gone.

Sicilian Silver garlic

Sicilian Silver garlic

As for the onions, the bulbing types were a complete washout. They never sized up, many of them rotted too, and they all went straight to the compost bin. After finding some lovely sweet Candy onions at the farmer’s market, I decided I will stop trying to grow them here. I don’t have to grow everything myself! The shallots all did poorly too, and I won’t be growing them again.

Thankfully the multiplier onions did much better. The I’itoi onions did just fine, and though I lost a few of them they make so many bulbs I have more than enough to replant for next year. We use these mostly as green onions or scallions, and they are so prolific I have stopped growing scallions from seed since they keep us supplied nearly year round. They multiply into big clumps of bulbs, and you can see in the below photo this batch is beginning to sprout and is ready to be planted. I have planted them already in the greenhouse, and in a couple of containers. I will plant more in the ground later.

clump of I'itoi multiplier onions

clump of I’itoi multiplier onions

The other multiplier onion I grew is the Yellow Potato Onion, and while it didn’t do as well as it did last year it did make enough bulbs for us to eat and for replanting. My goal is to get it and the I’itoi onions established so I have perennial onions I can replant every year like I do the garlic. The small potato onions are perfect for dishes that call for a small amount of onion, and I find them very useful in the kitchen.

clump of Yellow Potato Onions

clump of Yellow Potato Onions

The total haul for the 2018 garlic harvest was 13 pounds, down from the 22 pounds I harvested in 2017 from about the same amount of bulbs planted. I’ll be replanting the garlic here in late October or early November, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed it all keeps until then. I hope you have enjoyed this review of the 2018 allium harvest here at Happy Acres, and I’ll be back soon with more happenings!

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7 Responses to 2018 Allium Review

  1. Michelle says:

    I’itoi onions are reliable, they seem to be adapted to a wide variety of conditions. They are also so very tasty, both the roots and the shoots. I didn’t get around to harvesting them this summer but now they are coming back and looking very happy. I may have to try some potato onions too. Did you grow them from seed or bulbs?

    Too bad about the garlic harvest but as you said now you know which ones are the resilient varieties.

    • Dave @ HappyAcres says:

      I am continually amazed at the I’itoi onions, they are so easy to grow. I got the potato onions as sets from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

  2. Sue Garrett says:

    We haven’t grown garlic for a few years but are trying again this year. Onions have been far smaller than usual for us this year.

  3. I’ve not tried a multi plier onion before, so must look out for some here, as they sound very useful. Our outdoor bulbing onions were dreadful this year too, but the ones grown under the light shade of the polytunnel did much better, making decent sized ones thank goodness

  4. Susan says:

    Hi Dave – not sure if the issue with your onions not sizing up was due to bolting, but just wanted to mention a theory I’d read in a garden forum that I’ve experienced which kind of made sense to me. Like you I get onion starts from Dixondale. I would order them for the week recommended for my zip code or even a week earlier, and get them planted as soon as possible. One year there was unexpected frost after I planted, and a lot of the onions bolted. The theory was that since the onion plants were grown in Texas, experiencing extended frost or freeze could trick them into thinking they were in their 2nd “year” and hence bolt. With the weird weather we had this year, I decided to order later, and planted April 13 (copra & redwing). The onions were a bit smaller, but no bolting. Given all the variables that Mother Nature throws at us, no idea if this was because they weren’t exposed to frost/freeze/snow, but I’ll take it!

    • Dave @ HappyAcres says:

      Hi Susan, that’s an interesting theory that makes sense to me. My onions this year didn’t bolt though, they basically rotted and drowned. I didn’t do as good a job as I should have with weeding either which didn’t help things.

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