A member of the Onion family, Welsh onion are well worth cultivating in the vegetable and flower garden.
They take up very little space, and the whole plant can be eaten from top to bottom.
Welsh onion are cultivated both for their culinary uses and their ornamental value; the violet flowers are often used in ornamental dry bouquets.
Welsh onion are perennial evergreen plants, and keep their leaves in most winters.
In colder winters, the leaves may die back completely, but don’t despair – their roots are still alive and they will begin new growth next spring.
How to grow Welsh onion - Crop rotation
Welsh onion is a member of the onion family, and it is suggested that it should not be planted in soil that has grown a family member in at least the last three years.
How to grow Welsh onion – Position and Soil
Welsh onion thrive in well drained soil, rich in organic matter, with a pH of 6-7 and full sun.
However, Welsh onion will grow in almost all soils.
Work in a handful or two of bonemeal per square metre (yard).
Full sun or partial shade suit them equally well.
Although they are fairly tolerant of drought, don’t plant them in very dry places.
How to grow Welsh onion – Propagation
How to grow Welsh onion – Sowing seed
Welsh onion can be grown from seed and mature in summer, or early the following spring.
Sow the seeds indoors using normal potting compost in March time (or directly outside in April) .
Typically, Welsh onion need to be germinated at a temperature of 15°C to 20°C and kept moist.
The seedlings will appear a week to ten days later.
Transfer them outside a month after sowing with 10cm (8in) between each plant.
How to grow Welsh onion - Propagating by Division
Welsh onion are very similar to other onions, in that they have a bulbous root and green leaves.
The bulbs multiply quickly over a few years and this bounty of new bulbs provides the easiest method of propagation.
Simply dig up the clump of bulbs in March or October, carefully separate them into individual bulbs and replant with the tips of the bulbs level with the soil surface.
They thrive on this method of propagation, because it relieves the congestion in the bulb clumps.
How to grow Welsh onion – Care & Cultivation
Welsh onion are not greedy feeders, so it is not necessary to feed throughout the year if the soil has been prepared as described.
In cold regions, Welsh onion die back to the underground bulbs in winter, with the new leaves appearing in early spring.
Welsh onion starting to look old can be cut back to about 2–5 cm.
How to grow Welsh onion – Harvesting
Either lift the whole onion, as above, or just use the leaves.
Cut the chive leaves with scissors when required, starting with the outside leaves (those nearest the edge of the pot) and working your way inwards.
When harvesting, the needed number of stalks should be cut to the base.
The leaves rapidly grow back and can be cut several times in the growing season, so giving a continuous harvest.
Plants grown from seed should be left alone (although remove the emerging flower heads) until July in the first year to allow a good root system to establish itself.
How to grow Welsh onion - Kitchen Notes
Welsh onion should be used fresh and uncooked, otherwise they loose almost all their flavour.
When used with cooked foods, add them after cooking.
Welsh onion can be used to add flavour to a huge range of food, probably best known for adding to baked potatoes with butter.
Foods it goes well with include mixed vegetables, egg dishes, salads and dressings, broiled poultry, stews, casseroles and baked fish.
How to grow Welsh onion - Storage & Preserving
They can be dried, but their is little point because they then have no flavour.
One way to store them is to chop the leaves into 1cm (half inch) lengths and place them in ice cube containers with some water.
Freeze them, and then defrost an ice cube or two when need to use them.
How to grow Welsh onion - Pests and Disease
They are almost completely free of disease, but they occasionally suffer from onion fly, however this is almost always because they have been planted near onions which have been attacked – the solution is not to plant Welsh onion near onions.