This introduction video is the first in a series on Potato Onions. Future videos will cover planting, culture, harvest, curing and eating. I forgot to address a couple of things. One is the difference between potato onions and shallots. I think there is probably not all that much. My suspicion at this time is that they evolved along different lines, but it's hard to say. I would be wary of any expert opinion on this matter. The other is the disadvantages of potato onions. They are really neat, and you dont' have to grow or save seed. All that is cool, but you also have to save part of your crop, which means you don't get to eat it. Since you can save mostly small bulbs to grow large ones for eating, that helps, but it's still something to consider. I've been growing them for over ten years and they work for me.
Also, I promised it and here it is, the great multiplier onion giveaway! Yay! What I'm giving out is packages of 4 different multiplier onions that I sell on ebay. (THIS IS OVER NOW, SORRY...)
Copper Shallot: Is a very nice true shallot, presumably of French origin. It has pink tinged flesh and a coppery skin. I really like this variety which I got in trade a few years ago. It has done very well, keeps like a rock, shows no winter damage in our relatively mild winters and no seed stalks to speak of, even when overwintered. Most (all?) commercial shallots these days are grown from seed, so if you plant a shallot start from the store, it will almost always run to seed. True shallots like this are becoming rare.
Yellow Potato Onion: This is the standard old school potato onion. It is very hesitant to flower under most conditions, it is very cold hardy and it keeps extremely well. It resembles a shallot, but with more under-the-skin division (a negative trait) and it may be sweeter and milder, but I'm not sure of that. I like to use them whole in stews and roasts, roasted in the skin over coals (yum!) and if you're patient, they are truly excellent when carmelized properly (properly meaning thoroughly cooked and not burnt! Patience grasshopper, good things take time...).
Green Mountain Multiplier: This is a newer variety bred from the yellow potato onion by Kelly Winterton of Utah, a champion of potato onions. This is very rare and Kelly has people lined up to get his limited supply of bulbs every year. I'm the only other person I know who has them available, though that is bound to change pretty soon. It is larger than the yellow potato onion, with fewer under-the-skin divisions and generally with more compact uniform bulbs on average. The down side is that it flowers readily, though it doesn't flower if spring planted here. I have much higher loses to mould and rot during curing and storage with this onion than with the yellow potato onion and am phasing it out this year. It's still worth a try, especially if you do a lot of canning with onions in the fall, in which case you can use the suspect ones up by september, and save the best for storage. Though there are losses in storage the bulbs that do make it seem to keep very well. It is earlier than the Yellow Potato Onion. More on this and the yellow potato onion in the video
I'itoi's Onion: A very small multiplier onion grown by the O'odham people of the SouthWestern U.S. for hundreds of years. It is said to have been brought by Spanish invaders. It can be grown as chives, or harvested as green onions. The bulbs are very small, but if well grown are certainly worth peeling and putting whole into dishes.
Okay, so this is how it's going to work this time. First, be subscribed or following on RSS. Instead of first come first serve, which is not very equitable considering all the times zones and such, I'm just going to collect emails through Sunday midnight and do a drawing out of a hat (or some other opaque object, no, make it a hat, I have a black hat, that's opaque :). Then I'll contact the winners and send you instructions. This needs to happen relatively fast, so I can get them sent out. You pay shipping, which should be under 4.00, but lets just make it 4.00 so I'm covered for sure.
Email me through the "SAY HI" contact link at the bottom or top this page with the subject line "Potato Onion Giveaway", so that I can sort all the emails out easily.
Good luck! I'm not sure exactly how many sets I'll be doing yet, but at least 8. Fall planting is not uncommon with potato onions. The yellows are cold hardy, the others I'm not entirely sure about. I wouldn't recommend trying to save them till spring because there are always some losses in storage.