‘Red Beard’ Onions

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I wrote about these onions last year, but I never ended up hitting “Publish” on it, so I wanted to share it now. Last year I got a late start to the seed sowing, and I had started these on April 4, BUT they didn’t get much of a chance to really take off. They grew, and I left them in the ground to see if they survive the winter.  So because of last year’s slow start, I started these on January 24th this year. This should give them enough of a head start that I can get something worth harvesting this year.

There isn’t a big  write-up about them on the seed packet (which, as you can see in the photo above is from McKenzie seeds. This is what the packet write-up says: “This easy-to-grow bunching onion produces tender and flavourful red stalks. Plants produce stalks 12cm x 1.5cm (4.7″ x 0.5″) in diameter.”

Because I have been so intrigued by this variety, I did a bit of googleing. Originally from wild alliums from China and Kazakhstan, it was brought to Europe around the middle ages, and to England in the 1600’s. Like other bunching or spring onions, they are perennial, but are typically grown as an annual. And of course, the reason why I wanted to try them, is that they have red-purple stalks combined with bright green foliage.

While Onions are not my most favourite veg. I quite likegrowing them. They stand up to a bit of cold, which is an ideal thing around here, where mother nature has a habit of bipolar mood swings. Also the flowers. Bees love them, and they are different compared to most of the flowers I grow.

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Summer Bulbs

Despite my late start to gardening this year, I am not lacking any enthusiasm. The ultra cold spring we are having (As I am starting the writing of this post, we have a snowfall warning of 10-15cm of snow) is really helping the dream of summer… and the hope that mother nature will make up for this terrible spring with a beautiful summer and long, warm fall.

As I have been picking up gardening bits here and there, I’ve been splurging on some bulbs for some hopeful color in the garden this year. As I am buying them, I’ll add them here and post once there is a handful for you to read about. Any tips for success with any of these, OR others I should try to find for my garden, please leave a comment.

First up, – Gladiolus  I never remember to pull my bulbs at the end of the summer. Maybe this year will be the year. But the tall spikes of beautiful flowers always remind me of my grandma, and my great grandma, and I try to grow some every year, (but their success varies from year to year).  This year, I just bought a mixed pack of 10 for $3.50, at Superstore. If I get some time to care more for them this year, then I may splurge on some fancier bulbs in the future that have names and known colour.

‘Blue Poppy’ Anemone De Caen  – These were too beautiful to pass up, and I can hardly wait to see them in person. I’ve never grown them before, so any tips and tricks you can share in the comments would be very welcome. These are from a local garden centre (Blue Grass Nursery), and I think I paid $3.99

‘Bouton de Rose’ -Novelty Begonia – I’ve never grown begonias before either, but I always fall in love with them in the garden centres. So I figured this year was the year to finally try them. I’ve been on the hunt for part-shade plants for the front yard that only receives morning sunlight. Like the above Anemone, this is also from a local garden centre (Blue Grass Nursery), and I think I paid $3.99 for the bulb.

Pink Calla Lily  – I grabbed this at Lowes when I was grabbing some Seed-Starting mix that was on sale there. I grew some Calla Lilies on a whim when I was still living at home, and they were so beautiful. I’m not sure why its taken me so long to try them again.

Cobaea ‘Cathedral Bells’

With the piles of snow outside, I thought it might be nice to go back to some things I grew last year (or even previous to that) and recount the experience.

Pronounced  Ko-Bee-Uh, it is also sometimes referred to as Cup & Saucer Vine or  Monastery Vine.

Some quick googling tells me that this is only hardy to Zone 9-10. I figured it was worth the risk last year, since we started the year off so warm. And usually, if something is impossible to grow here, then they don’t sell it here.

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I started them inside early because whether it was warm or not, we are still only a zone 3/4 (or 5-ish on a good year).

Since the seedlings were much larger than I anticipated, I ended up potting them up much sooner than I normally would. (3 into party cups on April 11, and the remaining 6 into party cups on April 17th… would have been sooner, but I needed to buy more potting soil and cups)

These things grew fantastic… They cling onto nearly anything. I had one climbing up a bare 4×4 fence post. It did not need any trellising to climb. They did not seem to like the teepee of smooth bamboo canes.

While they grew fantastic. I didn’t get any flowers… Our summer was cool and dry when it is normally warm and wet… and then hot and wet, when it is normally starting to cool. And then the cold just kind of came in with a bang. 2016 was weird. I had these planted in 4 different areas. They definitely need as much sun as possible. Morning shade with hot afternoon sun was great for them. The 2 plants I put into the area that gets morning sun and evening shade did not fare well. This may be partly due to soil, but I think they just need the heat (being that they are from a hot climate).

Will I try these again? Possibly. They were pretty tenacious and I like that. But I might wait for a different year when I’m feeling more ambitious to try new and different things.

I didn’t keep any pictures I may have taken of them growing to share with you now. If they had flowered, there probably would have been tons of photos.

Have you grown these? Share your experiences in the comments below.