Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wild Thing ... I Think I Love You

It is weird, somewhat wacky yet wildly wonderful. Probably one of the strangest plants I have ever watched grow! Like something from another planet, this one is best kept potted so you can enjoy it up close and personal. Seeing it go from normal-looking to bizarre is most entertaining. I am a tuned in plant person to be sure, but this strange being is just too bizarre to plant out where it will have any competition masking the daily activity.

I had never heard of this plant when a friend sent me a few seeds. She said it was cool. I looked for photos online and found nothing, so the experimental factor was high. It wasn't until a few years later that any mention of this plant popped up on the Internet. May I say that she is lacking the art of conveying a good picture? But then again, I have seen her idea of creativity, so why would I expect an apt description?

It was only potted to get the seed started ... I had grand plans for an herbary. Suffice it to say, life has a way of mucking up a plan. Instead, the subject remained basking in the intensified heat of full sun on the stone patio. Definitely, living large in that black plastic condo. All the while I raced around it working like the mad hatter at keeping the circus afloat. The herbary now a distant memory.

The blooms appeared atop the stems, so I knew the plant was doing well though set aside for later. As the bulblets grew fatter, I checked on them periodically not sure when to harvest. Lo and behold as I waited for a sureness of proper timing, a most fascinating thing occurred. Another layer of stems shot out of the original clusters and set bloom as well. How queer. Their unfolding was like the most bizarre form of modern art and I raced to freeze the image.

Presenting - Le Onion as art. Perhaps the entertainment factor dims after watching the performance year in and year out like reruns of Star Trek. Not just any old onion, mind you. Rather this one they named the Egyptian Onion Tree. The flavor of which is more than one expects from an onion. I mean , like wow! Wild thing ... I think I love you!

While small (meaning you need quite a few for a small pile of garnish) and not so easy to peel, they are worth all the effort. The flavor is more like a cross between onion and garlic. If you are into Mexican food this is the ticket for a special zip to flavor. They are wonderful on fresh salad as well. If you haven't ever grown or eaten them it is worth hunting down a few seed bulbs to get yourself started.

I suggest pot or tub growing over placing them in the ground. Onions prefer it drier than many other plants and don't get too freaked out if they go without a spritz of moisture one day. One name for this really old plant I discovered is Walking Onion because in the garden it will travel all over from dropping bulblets. Of course if you really want to get a nice sized pile of diced produce to put in some spaghetti sauce, you're going to need more plants than a tub full. I would never have the time to peel that many!

Make sure you set aside a few for next year's seed in case winter's weather causes the original plants to rot out. This little note comes from personal experience. I am now fresh out of Le Onion thanks to a particularly cold, rainy spring that left the tub saturated and half frozen stopping any drainage. Leaving my artsy salad crop roots reduced to rotted mush. Live and learn its a gardener's motto. I will restore Le Onion to a rightful spot in the potted jungle again one day.

Share your own Wild Thing story with me - I'll make us both famous!
In the meantime - help me buy a new flowerpot!


themanicgardener said...

Great title, great post. I'm glad I stumbled on this--I'll be back to revisit your blog.

Mary Ann Archibald said...

Wonderful blog. I have perennial onion too -- they are fun!