Richard mix, grex experiments - Allium / Onion

These are my starting seeds, plus a bag of white onion seeds that I saved seeds two years ago.
Probably all of the onions can cross pollinate between them. I have not read anything on the package that say that they are infertile. I assume the chive and leek will not easy crosspollinate with the others.

They are onion all over the garden. Here a row of some onions that I planted last year.

The hard part of saving seeds from onions is not eating them before setting seed. Other thing that happens to me is that always eat the bigger and healthier plants, and the seeds usually comes from the remaining plants. So the genetic of those seeds will get worse every time I save seeds.

When I planted my white onions 30% of them created round bulbs, and the other 70% never created big bulbs, instead the bulbs kind of split. So when I saving seeds from that patch, seeds will come from the not big bulb onions because we already eat all the big bulb ones.


I’m in the process of harvesting our onions. This is the beginning of our onion landrace and we sowed a mix of yellow onions and a mix of reds. We’ll save the best 40 or so of each for seed and eat the rest. It’s late summer here now so the seed onions will be planted in a few weeks, once the cool weather sets in.

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Interesting, how many plants or seed have you planted to be able to save 40 plants? Direct seed or with transplants?

So you harvest all the plants at the same time, and then replant again for seeds?

We usually harvest 0-5 onions every day (most of them are small), and I leave the remaining plants in the row or in the garden to set seed. In the empty space I sow other plants. I usually sow 8 seed in each plug of the seed tray, and then I plant the transplant in a line. When the onions start to grow I removing smaller onions to eat fresh, and only leaving 0-4 in the same space.

We sowed direct in early spring. We bought a few packets each of yellow and red onions and broadcast the seeds. These were specifically for seed to start a landrace. A lot of the red ones have already bolted so they got eaten first. Not interested in early bolting. I haven’t done the final count but we will easily get 40 yellow onions for seed but we may not get as many reds. Autumn is fast approaching so the onions will want to start growing again as the weather cools. Our plan is to replant them around the autumn equinox, late March for us.

I planted @Hugo allium seedlings that I recieved the other day. I put in the drip line so that they receive a little more water near some brassica seedlings.

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None of my onions had early flowering. The plants did not want to create bigger and round tubers. Most of my onions are in the soil waiting for more growth or for set seed.

I harvest some plants and I was trying to replant in another plot that I have, but the soil is so hard and is double the work. I think is less a hassle to just sow new seedlings or when I have more seeds to broadcast the seeds there.

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Interesting, the Brassica will shade them a bit, they like that rams/wild leek. Growing in patches. Your soil looks great man! Did you use a rototiller? Lots of organics.

My soil is somewhat rocky like this one.

And a weedy jungle like my cucurbita ficifolia patch, still nice flowers.

Yes, I used a 7cv rototiller, and I making trenches with it. I think where I planted your onions is the same spot where last year the tomatoes and fava beans were. So maybe they got the nitrogen from the fava beans…
It is very difficult to plant seedlings without tilling, the soil is so hard, it takes me 5 times longer to plant the same number of plants. And I can not plant with the manual seeder with the hard soil.

I also working in somewhat fixed beds. Needs more cardboard. As son as you blink, the compost is already dry. So do not blink.

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I promise not t cry about my soil again. The only place i know like that is where i get gravel. I know that prickly tough flower from holidays.
Well done for making it into something descent looking! Cardboard and old manure?
We do similar, rotten rolls of uneaten straw as mulch on top of the fieldgrasses and then dump manure. The food is in the top layers. But we have enough water to grow white dutch clover, which is a pain, because it colonises, but a fixer of nitrogen and with a hoe easy enough to get it out of the way. And early morning it’s full of dew. You being on an island should have dew too. Any observations?
The pathways i keep adding straw… Full of seeds, which if the become a problem i dump more straw on. But worms love it. The pathways slowly getting more nutritious than the beds, but whatever. It’s nice and damp under there, for a long while into summer and the soil food web and mycelia are profiting of that. I like to think i select for plants that know how to profit of that. And i plant trees, rows of shrubs, rows of herbs as mini hedges, thyme oregano, hyssop, edible sorrel and perennials of all sorts to kind of keep it strong and alive.
Anyway i derail.

I wish, it is municipal compost, a friend did not want it. It dries very fast, contains glass and plastic fragments. It is not very good.

I wanted to create a topic for recommendations, but here it is.

Raw materials (weight %):

Sewage sludge (%): 45 – 55% LER 190805
Structuring material (%): 45 – 55% LER 200201


Total Organic Matter (% smh*): 35 - 47
Organic Carbon (C) (% smh*): 20.3 – 27.3
Organic Nitrogen (N) (% smh*): 1.4 – 2.0
Total Nitrogen (N) (% smh*): 1.4 – 2.2
C/N Ratio: 10.2-19.6
Phosphorus (% P2O5 smh*): 1.0– 1.7
Potassium (% K2O smh*): 0.7 – 1.4
Humic Acids (% smh*): 2 - 7
Particles < 25 mm (% smh*): ≥ 90
Stones and gravel > 5 mm (%): ≤ 2
Impurities > 2 mm (%): ≤ 1.5
Maximum Moisture (%): 40
Conductivity (dS/m): 2 - 7
pH (upH): 6.8 – 8.8
Maximum Copper Content (mg/kg): 225
Maximum Zinc Content (mg/kg): 450

*smh: on wet sample

I wanted to alternate cultivating. This year in the beds, next year in the pathways. Alternate years. 1 meter cultivate, 1 meter pathways, and next year the opposite. My garden is more chaotic or more natural, so in the end I ended up cultivating everything, leaving very small paths if that. Need more space for my plants.

Nice, yep, I trying something similar, I am adding any type of plant edible or not just for the diversity and life building. I am in the early stages of my syntropic farming.

Hi Richard, and @Hugo, nothing allium specific here but wanted to know if you tried faba beans or lupine to improve the soil nitrogen matter + give a good structure. That works very well with acidic soil. Otherwise the third plant used for ages as a preceding to demanding crops is sainfoin on basic soil.

That is part of my strategy… once again not reinventing the wheel but rediscovering what we forgot, as those three plants were highlighted in Olivier de Serre manual, and other middle age manuals. It could be part of “soil care” as @isabelle puts it nicely.

For example : my uncle, now retired, went from conventionnal agriculture in the 80’s to no till approaches in late 90’s and then did many many experiments on 800 hectares (=2000 acres) as he was the farm manager of the biggest popcorn farm in France, maybe in Europe. Now he is just a gardener, doing many things in his house, so willing to do gardening easy, simple and productive. I think it is interesting because the only thing he kept from 25 years of experiments is… faba beans! (next timings apply to France) Sown the earlier possible in the Autumn : either it frosts when flowering so the plant dies and you are ready to plant onions in February or so, or you sow later, frosts don’t harm the not-flowering faba, and you just can crush it whenever you want later in the season: it fixes nitrogen, collaborates intensely with micro-organisms, improves drastically the soil structure + gives a ground cover for a while so rain andsun don’t affect it that much. Then, when crushed, it dies and goes black very fast, so the soil warms up, and is ready soon for planting whatever. Following mineralization of the nodules content starts fast and is progressive - unlike common nitrogen.

This is part of his garden in the foggy Gers 3 weeks ago:

Closer look:

The limiting factor is that he doesn’t bring that much organic matter (carbon) to the soil, but as far as it is a small garden, he can bring, from time to time, some other inputs (straw or whatever): it works fine. (That you could not do on big farms, so they need to keep part of the straw on the ground, and roots in the ground, for the soil to stay balanced while improving its “natural” fertility… )

Just saying that because I imagine the work it is to bring all this material I see on your photo. As I have had 10 cubic meters of wood chips to spread manually following a cutting last august… About one tenth of it:

I don’t want to do this kind of hard work again and will stand by simple intermediary cover cropping, with dosages, densities adapted. I just may, once in a while, bring some of my neighbor’s cows’ manure to the field, but small amounts, and only for specific reasons. If my patches get too weedy, I just may, once every few years - and if possible never - ask a neighbour to come with a disk harrow or that kind of tool.

…The Fertile Crescent was once fertile, and after millenias of soil cultivation sucking all the organic matter, is now partially dead, near to a desert, relying on inputs, and as far as I can see your soil, it looks extremely fragile… I don’t want preach for “my” practises (which are not personnal actually) but just want to say that faba could do the same fertilising job easily + benefit the soil life, and other collateral… Gifts! You may have already tried it…