Veggie Families – The Onion Family

Onions
Onions

The complicated and formal name for this vegetable family is Amaryllidaceae.  The easy name to remember and spell is the onion family.  The veggie cousins in this family are garlic, leeks, onions, scallions and shallots.  The herb family member is chives.  I have grown all of the members of this family except for leeks.

While garlic, leeks, onion and shallots have a long growing season, scallions mature faster.  Chives are perennial plants.   The onion family of plants tolerate chilly temperatures. For instance, you can plant garlic, onion and shallot bulbs in the fall or winter under cover (or not )and enjoy the harvest in the summer or fall depending on the dates of maturity.

This family is very low maintenance to grow.  Garlic and shallots are typically planted from cloves.  Also, shallots can be grown from seeds.  I’ve only tried growing shallots from cloves.  Onions can be grown from sets (immature bulbs) or seeds.  In case you want to know, I have grown them both ways with success. While garlic is not too picky, the rest of the onion family likes an even amount of water because of shallow roots.  Garlic, onions and shallots let you know when they are mature and ready to be harvested when their green tops flop over.  The bulb part of onion family should be cured for storage.  While you eat the green leaves/stems of the chive family, you can also eat this portion of the other members of the onion family.  You do have to be careful so you leave enough green growth on top to allow the bulb to properly form.  I personally just use the chives and not the onions and garlic for the green growth.

Garlic
Garlic

In the past, I have not put my garlic under cover except for this past fall.  Since the prior winter was so cold in Pittsburgh and this winter was expected to be another very nasty cold winter, I decided this year to grow my garlic under a hoop tunnel covered in plastic sheets.

So far I have not noticed any diseases or bad bugs in my garden. You may run into diseases such as downy mildew, fungus, blight, etc.  Also, the bad bugs that can enjoy the onion family include maggots and thrips.

While I haven’t written about the veggie families for a while, please do a search in this blog for “Veggie Families” to see other posts.  The last one I did was Veggie Families – The Mallow Family.  Understanding the veggie families is important for crop rotation.