We all know what spring onions are – right? These days they come year round in the shops and if you grow them in the garden they are probably ready to eat in the summer rather than spring. For me real spring onions are in the garden, ready to eat in spring! They are hardy, vigorous, tasty and healthy.
The first to appear in my garden is the three cornered leek which comes up in January. This year I picked the first leaves on 2nd January and again on 7th. By this time of year (April) they have grown tall and are flowering. Here is one plant looking like a white bluebell in company with dandelion and forget me not. In addition to the leaves I will eat some flower heads and leave others to set seed and multiply.
My newest spring onion to delight in is allium paradoxum. I acquired it last year, thought it had died and got another last month just as the first was re-appearing. It is a delightful allium looking rather like an overgrown snowdrop, with deep green leaves. I have only eaten a little (in order to let it build up its strength) and it is lovely and oniony. Here it is keeping company with a kale, lamb’s lettuce and scorzonera (and bluebells by fence), all under the shade of an apple tree. It comes up by March.
The third of my favourite spring onions is the ever productive wild garlic. Happily it loves the damp conditions here and seeds itself around. I started picking wild garlic on 21 March this year.
In my view the beauty, delicacy and fresh taste of these adorable wild onions cannot be over stated. I have seen references to the three cornered leek and allium paradoxum being invasive weeds, which seems to be a terrible slight on them. Far better to put some in a shady corner of the garden, treasure them, eat them and let their natural tendency to propagate like mad work to your advantage!
In addition to these three there are other onions in the garden – Welsh onions and tree onions are growing strongly and chives have been up and picked since March. However I am mostly leaving these for later in the year.