This is growing alliums, the onion family, at Level Zero for absolute beginner gardeners. Learn to grow these, and the rest of the Allium family will be yours to explore. The two most easy alliums to grow, and those we prefer here in our patch, are GARLIC and WALKING ONIONS. In our Level Zero calendar, April and May are the ideal time to grow them.
STEP ONE: In Level Zero gardening,
we stick to the most basic methods and simple routines that can prepare the garden for anything we want to grow. Check them out here first.
Garlic is about the easiest allium to grow. You don’t need special conditions or seeds, just a store bought garlic head. Just be sure it is AUSTRALIAN garlic, as those from overseas have been mostly bleached, roots gouged off, and sprayed with growth inhibitor. Ew. In the cooler regions, APRIL 25 (Anzac day in AU and NZ) is a traditional ideal day to plant garlic, but seriously folks any time is fine. You’ll harvest in summer when the plant leaves start to yellow off. See below for the easiest planting ever.
Walking onions are curiously named by their growth habit. They are bunching onions that multiply at the base, but also grow stems with bulblets that grow on top in place of flowers. These ‘sets’ become heavy and eventually bend the stem over to touch the ground, where they form roots and start to grow on their own. In the garden, if left, they seem to ‘walk’ away from the original location – GENIUS! We use these ridiculously versatile and useful onions all year, from root to set – the quintessential no-waste veg.
Funky sprouting ‘sets’ atop walking onions
Ready-to-freeze walking onions
FUN FACT ~ The mini bulblet ‘sets’ on bunching onions are what are used to make the little cocktail pickled onions we trot out at parties. Small, round and perfect 🧅🧡
Why not try pickling some for yourself?
So, where can you get walking onions, you ask?
– You may find some at a heritage nursery.
– Next Summer we will be making ours available for sale by mail order within Australia. 😎
– (sneaky tip) some supermarkets sell ‘Shallots’ that are actually just bunching onions. Though perhaps not walking onions, they are worth giving a go. Why not pop one in the ground and wait. If it multiplies at the base, then BINGO!
Went to the super and bought a garlic and some shallots to show you. Excuse the grainy picture. The Garlic will seperate into good size cloves to plant. The shallots you can see are actually two different types – one would grow into large red onions if grown on at home, but the other are even dividing (I took off the outer skin to show it), so will likely multiply nicely. Its a grocer’s trick to sometimes sell bunching onions as shallots, but it’s good for us. Happy days. I will plant them and see what happens.
Getting them into the ground
- CHOOSE A WELL-RAISED BED that has been trenched, so that it has plenty of organics to feed the bulbs.
- SEPARATE THE CLOVES AND ‘SHALLOTS’ so you can plant one in each hole, about a fist or so apart
- PUNCH a hole with your dibber or super handy HoriHori knife if you have one, deep enough to fit the bulb with a few cms spare.
- POP THEM IN and mark them so you know where they are (no need to cover with soil – seasonal rain will fill in the holes before long)
Seriously, that’s it. Don’t fuss. As Autumn and Winter rains come, you will see new shoots, and they are away. We will check in again when they have popped up.
Look wide, grow well, folks. 🌿