Wild Onions......help!

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It was pointed out to me the other day that we have wild onions in our back yard! LOOOOOTTTTS of them!

Here's my dilemna (sp?). We're planning on putting a temporary corral back in that area to house the donkey we're 'borrowing' (my husband wanted something to train) but I don't want all our wild onions eaten up. Is it possible for me to transplant these things (important since that area will eventually be the chicken pen and garden)?

Also, do these things produce seed (I'd LOVE to keep them going)? And are there any suggestions out there as to recipes for them?

Wow......I love our farm more and more each day!!

-- Lisa - MI (formyacds@aol.com), April 27, 2002


If you are referring to ramps then you might look at the link: http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/hil/hil-133.html Some varities are being commercially grown in Australia and there may be medicinal properties in these.

-- BC (desertdweller44@yahoo.com), April 27, 2002.

one day, as a kid, i thought i would make use of those wild onions in our yard...so i chopped them up and fried them (many tears in the process) and ate some....my gosh, they were so STRONG!!!!! they may be little buggers, but there sure are potent.

-- C (punk_chicadee@yahoo.com), April 27, 2002.

Take some for you and leave some for the donkey. . .donkeys like the onions too, and there is the view they help with the control of parasites. Donkeys will clear a piece of pasture as good as a goat will. They LOVE roughage.

-- J McFerrin (JMcFerrin@aol.com), April 27, 2002.

Please be careful of star of bethlehem that grows along with wild onions & looks very similar - it is poisonous. It's long onion-like leaves have a white stripe down the middle & of course don't have the onion-y smell/taste. Enjoy those wild edibles, but be careful!

-- heather (h.m.metheny@att.net), April 27, 2002.

Curious here. I know you don't want a milk cow anywhere near those, but would these wild onions affect the taste of eggs if your hens will be yarded there? Thanks, LQ

-- Little Quacker (carouselxing@juno.com), April 27, 2002.

LOL! Cool.....I guess we'd get pre-seasoned eggs! ;o)

These are definitely onions....you pull them up and they smell VERY oniony.....the bulbs very much resemble chives (I think that's what I'm thinking of anyway). The leaves are very narrow and grasslike (no white stripes) but are much more three dimensional than grass ('plumper' than grass). Some of the leaves have a bit of a curl to the end of them.

I don't mind leaving some of these onions for the donkey (heck, there are PLENTY to share), but if I can cultivate some of them for our use I'd certainly love to do so. We're planning on making use of the wild rasperries we have (we seem to find more each day......actually, I can see a patch we missed just outside the window here....) and I've also heard (from the previous owners) that we may even find morels in the woods! YIPPEE!!

-- Lisa - MI (formyacds@aol.com), April 27, 2002.

Wouldn't be Winter onions would they?

-- Paul Martin (rpm44@centurytel.net), April 27, 2002.

Nope, looked up ramps and they're definitely not ramps (or leeks).....this is the closest thing I could find to what we have (although they don't have flowers yet so I can't be entirely sure).


I tried to find some information on winter onions, but couldn't find anything.

-- Lisa-MI (formyacds@aol.com), April 27, 2002.

If you do eat ramps it's probably best if you don't enter social situations unless the others have been eating ramps too, in which case noone should smoke.

-- Ed (smikula@bellsouth.net), April 27, 2002.

Prairies of Southern Wisconsin and Northern Illinois used to be full of wild onions. The Ojibwa name for those prairies was she-kag- on, "place of the wild onion". We know it now as Chicago. There are still a few pockets of them around but most succumbed to the plow or pasturing. As a child, my mother prized them for early spring cooking. Didn't need many of them to spice up any meal. And contrary to what Stan said, they DO bloom and go to seed as do all onions in that Allium family family branch. Usually a pink flower although those in my wildflower garden have pinkish-white flowers and came from a small prairie near Chicago. They can be easily transplanted in full sun and rich soil but in a place where they don't get a lot of foot traffic. The hooves of the donkey will do more damage to them then its teeth. Stan has a close cousin, Allium Canadense which is wild garlic and should bloom May-June whereas Lisa probably has Allium Stellatum which will bloom July-September. Now I'm wondering what I can swap with Stan in order to get a few of those wild garlic heads for my "prairie".

-- Martin Longseth (paquebot@merr.com), April 27, 2002.

Ed, we've got one of the biggest ramp (Tennessee Truffles) festivals in the next county over. You'll have to try and make it someday!!!:) I hear that New York Chefs are catching on to them and paying big money for them. People go looking for ramps in the mountains around here like they do for mushrooms up north. Both plants are as picky as where and what conditions they will grow in.

Lisa, the ramp is from the lilly family and resembles a Lilly of the Valley so it seems ya got ya some wild onions growing. That's probably a good thing. :)

-- Annie (mistletoe6@earthlink.net), April 27, 2002.

Thanks Martin. These onions would be transplanted to either container gardens or raised gardens so foot traffic shouldn't be too much of an issue. The thing I AM wondering about is the rich soil thing....

Right now these onions are growing in our VERY sandy soil (probably the least rich soil of the entire property!). Would it be better to transplant them to something similar or something richer?

Of course you have to understand that you're speaking to someone with a BROWN thumb here (these thumbs are DEFINITELY not green!). However, it is possible that's because I was never interested in gardening until moving to our farm. So expect lots of questions.....I want to LEARN!

-- walter (formyacds@aol.com), April 28, 2002.

I have the wild onions growing here, I use them in cooking just like green onions or chives. They don't last all summer around here, so I chop and dry some for later use. They show up in spring about the time the lambs quarter is starting. Together they make a nice spring dish for supper. You should be able to transplant the ones you have, you'll enjoy them!

-- cowgirlone in ok (cowgirlone47@hotmail.com), April 28, 2002.

What Stan describes sounds like what we called spring onions or dividing onions. They grow a cluster of bulbs at the top of the leaves and these drop off eventually to grow new plants. I got tired of them one year and tilled them down. I then had onions growing everywhere in the garden for a long time. They came up early and I used the tops for green onions. I lived in Stan's general area until last summer so that might be what they are. They are not garlic.

-- Barb (MBRanch@POP.ctctel.com), April 28, 2002.

Barb, you may indeed have had top setting onions and they may have been "wild" but they were not native. Top setting onions, as we know of them in our gardens, originated in North Africa. The only top setting allium in the Western Hemisphere is Allium Canadense which indeed looks and tastes more like an onion than garlic and quite probably misnamed centuries ago when someone saw that the bulblets were more like garlic than onions. Regardless, they are all the same family, Allium. And that takes in all onions, garlic, ramps, and leeks.

-- Martin Longseth (paquebot@merr.com), April 28, 2002.

Interesting Martin - Thanks! A neighbor originally gave them to me to plant. I hauled a bunch once out to the woods along with some other weeds that were too much for the composters and they are growing wild back there now. I regret forgetting to take some with me when I moved.

-- Barb (MBRanch@POP.ctctel.com), April 28, 2002.

say Martin..I live in NE west virginia and got lots of "things" that look like what I called wild garlic, blooms and gets a "mass" on top of the bloom stalk, and the bulbs will divide to make clumps..is it a wild onion or a garlic?? Mostly I don't let the things bloom and am always trying to pull em up...if they were onions I would leave em alone or transplant to their own bed..

-- Bee White (bee@hereintown.net), April 29, 2002.

Bee, I replied direct to you when th Forum was down but will cover some of the ground again so that everyone else will not think that I left you hanging. If what you have forms bulblets on top instead of seeds, then they would most likely be garlic since garlic NEVER has seeds. But, a top setting allium MAY be an onion but not native. However, if it were an onion, the leaves would be hollow since garlic leaves are flat. With many wild onions, the leaves appear to be flat and they indeed ARE on the surface or outer side. But there is a ridge running the length of the bottom side and that is the hollow part. In my gardens, I have the variety of wild onion that formerly were rampant in the Chicago area. Definitely not the kind that one might enjoy as scallions but is great chopped fine and added to fried potatoes. The smaller wild onions which we have in parts of Wisconsin are much milder and virtually harvested into extinction in former times. I can only imagine how hot the wild garlic may be as I've yet to find it growing in this state.

Onion and garlic fanatic forever!

-- Martin Longseth (paquebot@merr.com), May 01, 2002.

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