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  • Experiments

    Another experiment with Red Florence onions. These were from the batch that were grown as shallots. That experiment was a success. Now they are not good storers and I am not sure I could replant now and they'd come through winter. I have replanted a few whole onions as they are in the conservatory. They are about the size of the little pots, but growing roots and green tops and hopefully preparing to split. I read that you can mostly harvest onions and just leave the base to regrow, so this is what I am now doing with 4 others. I have tried this before and it worked. But I made the mistake then of splitting the new shoots and growing as separate plants. Not much bulb and they all flowered. Lets see how these fare - I will certainly keep them together. If they split and produce as well as the ones grown from whole onions, then obviously the yield is higher because we can eat most of them and still keep them for growing next year. I would not do this with a relatively small shallot, but as these are so much bigger - who knows - fingers crossed.

    The punnet on the right contains the little onion bulbils from the Bedfordshire Champion onion that decided on top bulbils, some are tiny but we will see how many will grow. And the two pots in the front are ulluco cuttings that have rooted - an attempt to increase stocks without needing tubers.

    We'll see how these experiments work out.
    Last edited by Galina; 06-10-2015, 15:23.

  • #2
    Look forward to following your experiment.


    • #3
      The ulluco rooted cuttings in the picture above produced pea sized tubers at the tops of the shoots. Not underground. Big surprise. I pushed the minitubers into the compost alongside the rooted cuttings. Not right into the soil, they are still visible.

      The cut off Red Florence onions have short green shoots, apart from one that looks like it isn't going to make it. The fullsized Red Florence onions which I had potted up (not in the picture above) are producing long, floppy leaves, not sturdy shoots and I have been harvesting these to snip over food. Hope the onions don't get too exhausted, so far they feel solid.

      There are two tiny green shoots (only) from the bulbs of the Bedfordshire topsetting onion, the rest looks a bit dormant at the moment and none of the very few seeds has germinated either.

      We will see how these progress further. I am in two minds whether the full sized Red Florence in pots would be better of in the greenhouse to prevent them leafing so much, but I am not sure how much cold they can tolerate and the prolific leafing should stop over winter I think.
      Last edited by Galina; 23-01-2016, 08:17.


      • #4
        I am adding to the experiments. I noticed a few years ago that my celery has these small celery plants at the base of flowering celery plants. And sometimes also at the base of growing celery plants. These grow into lovely celery plants, easier than growing from seed.

        At the moment we are harvesting celeriac grown from seed from the seed circle. Especially the big roots have an occasional tiny celeriac plant attached. I am picking these in an attempt to root them in the conservatory. The idea is to grow again and see whether they will produce celeriac roots planted out the following year. Only have 3 cuttings so far which are looking bonny and are hopefully rooting. I hope to get several more as we are munching through our celeriacs.


        • #5
          At the moment the ulluco and oca from cuttings look very sad indeed. Not sure they are coming though winter and will resprout, but I leave them in the conservatory for now. The celeriac shoots on the other hand are rooting. As we are eating more celeriac, more shoots go into little pots. Now have 8. The oldest and best rooted that even have a little new top growth (and a few aphids - grrr) have been placed in a corner of the greenhouse, still in their pots. This is the greenhouse that is just the other side of the fence where our neighbour's swimming pool helps with warmer micro climate. The celeriac plants are still in the ground and have survived -4.5C nights with only a few leaves on top as mulch.

          The small ulluco tubers look just like they did, no change there.

          Nothing much has happened to the Onion topsets, not sure they like being overwintered either. And growing from partial Red Florence onions does not look like a success either...... well good or bad, every experiment is a learning opportunity.

          I have a new experiment - heard the term 'pullsprout' on potato forums. Guess this must be the shoots that we produce by chitting seed potatoes. Which we d o n t pull or we would weaken the potato plant. But what about the white shoots that are developing on stored eating potatoes? Will they green up, root and grow into good potato plants? We will see. Have just detached relatively short Sarpo Mira sprouts and put into little pots.


          • Thickening the plot
            Thickening the plot commented
            Editing a comment
            Re. the 'pull sprouts', I found something very similar in a book on seed potato technology, where they call it 'sprout cuttings' - it's available on google books see pages 185-187 with a nice illustration on p. 186 : I looked into this a couple of weeks ago when I found last year's harvest had developed a lot of sprouts. I took sprout cuttings, they rooted very easily and seem to be doing well under my LED grow light so far.

          • Galina
            Galina commented
            Editing a comment
            That is probably what I should have done, rather than putting them in the conservatory which is much colder and not really that light these grey days - will repeat as soon as the propagator goes on. You are well ahead of me.
            Last edited by Galina; 27-01-2016, 22:09.

          • Galina
            Galina commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks for the url, Thickening the plot. A way of growing plants free from soil or tuber borne diseases. That can't be bad! And the yields quoted are very similar to tuber grown potatoes. Nice !

        • #6
          The previous experiment with the celery side-shoots is still ongoing in a way, although I no longer treat it as an experiment but as my mainstream way of renewing the celery in the garden. With seeds safely stored in the freezer, I have only used vegetative propagation these last few years. With very good results. They are so far entirely winter hardy (but I have stuck a couple of plants into the greenhouse for insurance). At the moment we are getting lots of juicy stems which I harvest one at a time, leaving the rest of the plant in the ground. Last year we had stems all winter and spring also, then we had a lull in summer when the plants started stretching and flowering (I cut off flower stems) and in autumn new growth developed into the sticks we are eating now. Celery definitely can be grown as a permaculture perennial. I freely admit that the clump next to the compost dalek (which has the benefit of all the run off liquid fertiliser and possibly a heat benefit too) is doing slightly better with more luscious stems, but both clumps are fully viable as perennial 'do little work' vegetables. And so far I have not seen any deterioration because they are still in the same piece of ground. But, perhaps like strawberries. 3 years might be long enough before crop rotation might be come advisable? It might be wise to eat them all this spring and start a new clump from the sideshoots in another part of the garden before they deteriorate.


          • #7
            Neither the oca cuttings nor the ulluco cuttings have come through. However both have produced pea sized tubers in case of the oca, one of them has produced 3 tiny tubers on one cutting. The experiment with the partial, cut onions over winter has not worked, they are all gone. The whole onions have sprouted well and are looking good. The celeriac cuttings are looking good and have been transferred to the greenhouse. The first of the potatoes from sprouts have grown roots and are greening up, despite not being 'rooted' in a warm environment. A little progress with the onion top bulbils, but sprouting is still very slow. Doesn't look like any of the seeds have sprouted.


            • jayb
              jayb commented
              Editing a comment
              Good result getting some little mini tubers, even if the plants didn't pull through. Good to know it's possible to extend them growing. I had a couple of Oca stems I'd snapped off (or the dog had!) They were in water for a while before I planted them in a vacated tomato pot in the greenhouse, they were good enough to produce a few little tubers too.

              I don't think I've ever seen little celeriac plants like you describe. Were they growing from the bulb or on the bulb as such?

          • #8
            An update on the potato sprouts. I have now planted them. The Charlotte potatoes, which had the thickest sprouts had grown into sizeable plants, the Harlequins were all well rooted, the Sarpo Mira has stayed small, but also well rooted. They were planted deeply into holes made with my 'leeks dibber' (handle of fork that broke years ago). If the tops (barely showing) should still freeze off there is hopefully enough plant left to regrow, despite there not being a tuber to support regrowth.

            I had a delightful surprise. Two of the Charlotte sprouts (which had been shoved into 4 inch pots) had already got one or two pea sized potato tubers hanging off the roots. I could not believe it. Well chuffed!


            • #9
              Pull sprouts do seem to do very well. Congrats on your mini Charlottes, they sound like they are going t be very early


              • #10
                Did I comment on the celeriac experiment? Sadly they all flowered in the end rather than producing celeriac heads. Now we know. Start again from seed early next year, because I am missing celeriacs. Too bad.


                • #11
                  Celery works fine from off-sets, celeriac not. Bedfordshire onion from bulbils did not work - they disappeared and the few seeds never germinated. Growing Red Florence onions like shallots does work, but cutting them in half results in rotting. Growing potatoes from sprouts works well, but the plants (which are single stemmed) do not produce as much as from seed tubers which have multiple stems.


                  • #12
                    Just to report on another experiment. Double red sweet corn. I only had 4 cobs in the end, which I harvested at the fully ripe but not dry stage. Cut the tops for eating (yum) and left the bottom inch of each cob for seed. They dried and I rubbed them off and gave them a bit more drying time as individual kernels. I have just packed them up together with the remaining seeds in the packet. I compared them for size and maturity and they look identical. Next year will be a mix between old and new seeds and over time we will get the required diversity for corn seeds I hope. They will now go into the freezer, because it will take several more years to save enough to fulfill the minimum quantity of cobs necessary. Longer than the oldest seed will stay viable. But with freezer storage, this problem should be solved too. So you can eat your sweetcorn and have it, I'm glad to report