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  • Not seen this before ...............

    As an extension to the experiment of how well Red Florence onions fare when grown as courgettes, I also found a couple of Bedford Champion onions and just stuffed them in by the hedge. Forgot all about them and then they were well and truly covered and hidden from view by a bunch of peas. Now the peas are gone and it seems that one of these onions has split into 3 small bulbs and all are flowering. But one of the flowers consists of almost nothing but top bulbils. I know leeks can grow 'pips' but onions? Not a brilliant photo but shows the scape with bulbils ok. And the scape next to it (grown from the same original onion that split into 3) looks 'normal'

    PS: should have said .......... when grown as shallot ........
    Last edited by Galina; 15-08-2015, 16:58.

  • #2
    Sorry I'm being dim, I can't think what you mean by?
    how well Red Florence onions fare when grown as courgettes
    Fab- onion bulbils A new little project!

    I think I read on Templeton's blog some of his Potato onions produced bulbils. I wonder if yours are because they felt a little stressed by being slightly overgrown by the peas?

    I wonder if people have been breeding onions away from these traits for years, even so they seem to be hidden just beneath the surface when scratched?

    Comment


    • Galina
      Galina commented
      Editing a comment
      my bad ........... grown as shallots

      That's exactly what I think is the reason. Went to a different mode of propagation out of stress and necessity. How can we learn to do this? Make onion sets the easy way? It must have been fairly dark both from the hedge and from the full cover of a lush lot of pea plants. The one not totally covered by the pea on the scape next to it didn't do it.
      Last edited by Galina; 12-08-2015, 16:02.

    • jayb
      jayb commented
      Editing a comment
      Lol, I was thinking it was a different way of growing them but courgettes really threw me!

  • #3
    Very slightly concerned that I had forgotten about these onions and they were hidden from view. I took off all scapes from the Red Florence, but there is now a chance that the Red Bretons which are currently flowering may be or may have crossed with these. Both are allium cepa. Last time I had nothing else flowering at the same time. I wondered whether the differences in the Red Bretons from seed were caused by crossing in the past, but it wasn't in my garden. The next batch could be crossed with Bedford Champion onions. Oh well ...........

    Comment


    • #4
      Bedford Champion are a lovely onion, so I guess although not what you intended if they have crossed it's not too bad a deal and could even be beneficial?

      Comment


      • #5
        And if my hunch is correct that the white ones were from a cross in the past, then a further cross would be no issue either. For shallot/potato onion growing, we can always select what looks true to type and rename the others. Red and White Bretons. I assume the same must apply to Kelly Winterton's varieties. Just thinking aloud here: uniform onions from seed used to be the 'posh' vegetables, potato onions were the 'cottager's' staple and purity of variety did not matter.The big returns and ease of growing mattered much more. In French cuisine however the shallot was elevated to be more special than ordinary onions. Is that because of flavour differences, or because more work was needed to peel them and so eating shallots meant that you had adequate staff to do this? Or are French shallots different? Is there an expression of social standing and class?
        Last edited by Galina; 14-08-2015, 07:46.

        Comment


        • #6
          I wonder too how many of the shallot varieties would have been a segregating variety had they not been frozen in bulb form, so when seed is taken once again variation is seen in the offspring?

          Interesting, I've never thought of onions and shallots as having a class status. I do hate peeling small ones either shallots or onions. If I don't need them for a single portion I try and use them up in roasted veg doesn't mater they have skin on it's easy enough to remove once cooked and gives them a little jacket to protect them and keeps all the flavour in. I can see the point of if you had staff you wouldn't so much worry about size, just how they tasted!

          Comment


          • #7
            These bulbils are growing larger and the few seed capsules on this scape are also full.

            Comment


            • jayb
              jayb commented
              Editing a comment
              They do look good, lovely and plump

          • #8
            I have just read something about onion bulbils that worries me. I don't think it definitely applies to the onion above, which were grown from my own seeds, but one of the reasons why onions produce bulbils and few seeds is Cytoplastic Male Sterility (according to Joseph Lofthouse).
            http://www.motherearthnews.com/organ...-zbcz1402.aspx

            What Joseph says is:
            In onions, male sterility is often indicated by bulbils forming in the flower head. The flowers might produce anthers, but they don't release pollen. If I rub my fingers across a normal onion flower it will come away with pollen on it. Sterile plants don't produce pollen. Seed set is often low in male sterile onion flowers.
            eoq

            CMS apparently isn't an either/or for many vegetable varieties, but causes a fertility decrease which gets passed on to further generations. And as for creating landraces with the help of existing hybrids (that were bred with the aid of CMS by the seed companies), that puts a whole new difficulty into the equation.

            Food for thought!

            Are others on the forum aware of CMS or know how to deal with it?
            Last edited by Galina; 11-10-2015, 10:03.

            Comment


            • #9
              I think there are obviously other causes for bulbils forming as in the case of Bedford Champion.

              I noticed a F1 Pot Leek in one of the seed catalogues the other day and suspect this might be CMS, sorry I can't remember it's name. I think CMS is more of a problem if mixing/crossing F1's with open pollinated varieties for seed saving, then a possibility for incorporating it, I suspect some vegetables are more likely to have this eg some of the more modern F1 carrots, or those are the ones I've noticed it in. I have wondered about parsnips when I wanted to save Gladiator F1 seeds and grow them out. I couldn't find any info and went ahead, they set a huge crop and it doesn't seem an issue with this variety, perhaps as they have been around for a while. Ive been taking out a magnifying glass to check with carrots and my 'snips!

              It's a worrying subject.

              Comment


              • Galina
                Galina commented
                Editing a comment
                Had a reply from Joseph, he definitely encourages carrying on with these potato seeds as 'the genetics might get scrambled enough that some of their offspring might be more fertile'. With onions he advises that he does not save seed if 90 percent of flowers are shrivelled up, but he still encourages going ahead with my onion, as there might be 'something really clever and prolifically seeding' among the offspring. Very encouraging!

              • Galina
                Galina commented
                Editing a comment
                Hmmm, yes it definitely is more of an issue with landrace development or growing from hybrids, just an extra difficulty that has to be factored in.

                With the pot leek it is even advantageous for making own leek grass (bulbils).

                Forewarned is forearmed I guess. Just wish CMS and implications was more talked about.

                Deep breath - calming down a bit now

            • #10
              Good news from Joseph. Plus Bedford Champion is a good seed maker and if there is a chance some flowers have a little Red Bretton pollen, things could be interesting.

              Are those the potato berries you found growing in the garden or other seeds you have?

              Lol you had me out checking my flowering carrots yesterday, I looked them all over earlier on but then I thought some might have only recently started to flower, they seem to have been in bloom for ever! All seems good and there looks to be enough seed to keep a community going,

              Comment


              • Galina
                Galina commented
                Editing a comment
                Yes my quest to find out about the potato berries on an allegedly sterile variety led me to CMS and to Joseph's articles, where with much other information, onions with bulbils were mentioned as being an outward sign of CMS.

              • Galina
                Galina commented
                Editing a comment
                Hope these carrots make seeds before the really wet weather rots the umbels. Glad all was well there.

              • jayb
                jayb commented
                Editing a comment
                I thought they might be. I've not grown Picasso but it sounds a good one and tps plants should throw some good ones. I remember reading somewhere Tom W saying in his breeding he tries to incorporate prolific flowering/berry makers on one if not both sides. Checking with the potato breeding site is also a useful way of seeing if a variety does produce offspring. Some varieties will cross as a mother or pollen parent but not both, so it is worth making crosses both ways. Sarpo Kifli is great as a mother plant (although not with selfing) and pants as a pollen donor. A bit soon to say but this year Carolus didn't set any self berries or any crosses made to it but I was lucky enough to get two crosses using it as the pollen parent.

                This last bit of dry weather has really given the carrot flowers/seed heads a boost and I'll have more than enough seeds, though they will need to be picked and dried inside. Some will be just to late to mature.

            • #11
              It is incredible that seeds and plants are being tampered with so much that one day the planet might starve. Saving and sowing seeds seems to me to be such a fundamental right, why are people so greedy?

              Comment


              • Galina
                Galina commented
                Editing a comment
                Why are people so greedy? ................. because they can - mostly.

                And processes have become so scientific that public ethics scrutiny is absent. What worries me is that this whole CMS business (and no doubt other similar methods of tampering with natural processes) have been kept so quiet. GM has received public attention, especially the terminator genes. But not other techniques. What else is there?

                There is a degree of natural CMS - you only have to hand pollinate a squash when it is not warm enough to know that a seedless fruit results . Often good fruits too - can't see from the outside that there was no fertile pollen. Other examples of lesser fertility have been observed in much of nature recently (even human male sperm count which is much lower than it was when they started looking at it decades ago). As you say, to add to less fertility in any form, seems unwise when we need to feed an increasing world population. Off my soapbox
                Last edited by Galina; 13-10-2015, 09:33.
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