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Old May 13, 2016   #46
Kazedwards
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Catawissa is normally red. McCullar's and Fleener's are very similar.

Fleener's produces large 2-3" bulbs at the base and bulb is white with no other color.

McCullar's has smaller 1-1.5" bulbs and bulbs have some green in them.


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Old May 13, 2016   #47
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Zach, thanks, that should help me sort it out.

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Old May 13, 2016   #48
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There is also a brown catawissa to but I don't see much on it.


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Old May 13, 2016   #49
ChiliPeppa
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Zeedman are you interested in sharing some of those Yellow Hmong?
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Old May 13, 2016   #50
Jeannine Anne
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Hi, I have the 2016 SSE catalogue in front of me and I find it very confusing. In the category Topset Multiplier there seems to be all kinds, some just called Egyptian, some Egyptian Walking, Catwissa and McCullars are there, there is 1 entry for Fleeners.Then there are many others Amish Spreading,Backyard,Caudell,Comstock,Croation,Engli sh,Gatersleben,Grandma Pfeifer, Knox,Meridith,Minnesota Red, No Name Noble,Pakistani,Purple,Serbian.. there is more mixed in with the unsorted.

Could the elusive Fleemers be somewhere among this lot?

XX Jeannine
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Old May 13, 2016   #51
Tormato
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeedman View Post
Jeannine, I have two perennial bunching onions that I get seed from each year - one of which is Hardy Evergreen. They make wide scallions, but for me, they don't multiply much, unless you allow them to self-seed. I was much happier with the quality of scallions the first year from seed, so while some plants survive the winter, I really don't consider them to be usable as a perennial.

The other bunching onion is either "Franz" or "Stevenson", obtained from SSE when I did a 9-variety bunching onion trial some years back. I don't know which one it is... but it stubbornly refused to die when I turned it under (twice!), so I moved it to a permanent location and kept it. The two varieties are nearly identical; large scallions about the same size as Catawissa (about 1/2" across), exceptionally hardy, and they divide rapidly into large clumps.

Whichever one it is, it blooms later than Evergreen, so I am able to save seed from both... if you would like to try it, I will have seed available later in the summer. I heartily recommend it for its winter hardiness, medium-large size, and rapid multiplication. I noticed in my trial that while some bunching onions have much larger stems (almost like small leeks), those onions had poor winter hardiness, and tended to divide slowly if at all.

I have other multipliers, some which form clusters of small bulbs, and some which form topsets; but I don't know if I would be able to send them to Canada. The bulb-forming onions (one yellow, one pinkish brown) are both exceptionally winter hardy in my climate.

Yellow (from Hmong gardeners)

Pink (sport, possible Catawissa seedling)

For topsetting onions, I too have McCullar's, as well as Catawissa. At one point, I had 3 other heirloom topsetting onions... but they were lost when my rural garden flooded several years ago.

SSE has a HUGE collection of perennial alliums, which they began releasing for the first time this year (my encouragement for them to do so may have contributed to that). They sent live plants, in quite generous quantities. I have planted 10 varieties, so if they do well, I will have many more onions to trade next year.
Chris,

The 17th (of 17) Yellow Hmongs planted, came up today. I'm saving the 18th one to see if it'll store until a fall planting. Thanks again.

Gary
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Old May 13, 2016   #52
Kensington
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I had never seen walking onions, until today. Our neighbour came over with a bunch. they are now quite happy in my garden.
Just joined this group today also, so quite excited to see this info. thanks for posting
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Old May 13, 2016   #53
Zeedman
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeannine Anne View Post
Hi, I have the 2016 SSE catalogue in front of me and I find it very confusing. In the category Topset Multiplier there seems to be all kinds, some just called Egyptian, some Egyptian Walking, Catwissa and McCullars are there, there is 1 entry for Fleeners.Then there are many others Amish Spreading,Backyard,Caudell,Comstock,Croation,Engli sh,Gatersleben,Grandma Pfeifer, Knox,Meridith,Minnesota Red, No Name Noble,Pakistani,Purple,Serbian.. there is more mixed in with the unsorted.

Could the elusive Fleemers be somewhere among this lot?

XX Jeannine
Unfortunately, no. None of those is Fleener's. I have grown, or are growing, many of those. Caudell, Comstock, and Knox (I have abreviated all of those names) were the three topsets I lost to flooding; all are similar to Catawissa. Neither have I observed Fleener's growing in their perennial allium plot during my annual visits... and I have been looking for it. If SSE had white bulbed multiplying onions other than McCullars, they were either dormant (and hidden) or had already been dug.

The onion listed as Fleener's in the Yearbook is an imposter, as verified by myself, and the original source (IA AR W). It appears to be McCullar's, or something very similar.

I concur with Kaz's description of the differences between McCullar's and Fleener's. I would add that for me, the topsets of Fleener's were larger, and slightly flattened. Fleener's also seemed to be less winter hardy than McCullar's, I lost a few the first year... then lost them all to voles the second year.

It is worth pointing out that McCullar's is not a bad onion. The clump in my perennial garden forms nearly round, white bulbs about 1" across. That soil is not the best, so I Fall planted a few topsets along with my garlic, in much more fertile soil. This was the result:

The bulbils in the lower left are similar to what I planted. They grew not only fairly good sized bulbs, but larger topsets - in the first year - than what I planted! I tested those bulbs for storage life, though, and while they don't deteriorate as fast as Catawissa, none of them made it to Spring.

I have a larger planting of McCullar's currently growing in my garlic bed, I hope to test their culinary qualities this year.
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Old May 14, 2016   #54
Jeannine Anne
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Thank you, you have all given me some extraordinary information. When I researched a few years ago I thought I had pretty much got the info that was out there but it is obvious now I have just scratched the surface. I think I should just go back to first base and start again.

I think at this point I shall aim to find authentic named varieties from folks like you guys who know what they are talking about, so maybe I should be educating myself about where not to buy from if that is possible.

Having said that all types have their place but I like to know what I have. Maybe I should have a mystery bed!!!

If at all possible I would appreciate someone to perhaps let me know where I should shop.

I think it is like most things one is learning about, at first it is very confusing and eventually it all starts to make sense. I would be the first one to say I know very little in this department so am appreciative of any help.

Thank you

XX Jeannine

Oh just as a PS. I just remembered I have some regular onion seeds of a very rare onion that I grew up till 3 years ago, does anyone know if the seed will be any good. It is homesaved so I am sure about it's age.I have quite a bit if seed if my memory is correct and I do store in a cool place. I am pushing it I know but have you folks got any experience with older onion seed.
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Old May 14, 2016   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zeedman View Post
Unfortunately, no. None of those is Fleener's. I have grown, or are growing, many of those. Caudell, Comstock, and Knox (I have abreviated all of those names) were the three topsets I lost to flooding; all are similar to Catawissa. Neither have I observed Fleener's growing in their perennial allium plot during my annual visits... and I have been looking for it. If SSE had white bulbed multiplying onions other than McCullars, they were either dormant (and hidden) or had already been dug.

The onion listed as Fleener's in the Yearbook is an imposter, as verified by myself, and the original source (IA AR W). It appears to be McCullar's, or something very similar.

I concur with Kaz's description of the differences between McCullar's and Fleener's. I would add that for me, the topsets of Fleener's were larger, and slightly flattened. Fleener's also seemed to be less winter hardy than McCullar's, I lost a few the first year... then lost them all to voles the second year.

It is worth pointing out that McCullar's is not a bad onion. The clump in my perennial garden forms nearly round, white bulbs about 1" across. That soil is not the best, so I Fall planted a few topsets along with my garlic, in much more fertile soil. This was the result:

The bulbils in the lower left are similar to what I planted. They grew not only fairly good sized bulbs, but larger topsets - in the first year - than what I planted! I tested those bulbs for storage life, though, and while they don't deteriorate as fast as Catawissa, none of them made it to Spring.

I have a larger planting of McCullar's currently growing in my garlic bed, I hope to test their culinary qualities this year.


Zeedman, are those your McCullar's White? The ones I have much more green. The bulbils will get that size but only if they are well spaced. Here are a few pics of mine.

This is them last year at the end of May.


This is of a divided nest.


And the bulbils or topsets rather. The bigger ones are from a plant that has more room. Big difference.


The coloring on the topsets are different. Also are your making topsets right now?
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Old May 14, 2016   #56
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Jeannine, I have learned over the last few years that trying to figure out topsetting onions is like taking a bunch of different tomato seeds, mixing them up, throwing in crossed seeds, then trying to tell the varieties apart by just the seeds. It's a mess and as you can see from the post above the named varieties can be a mess too. That's part of the fun though. From what I have read they were a lot more popular in the 1800s. Then bulbing, biennial onions came into the picture and seed companies stopped offering topsetting and potato onions. That's why today they are more of a rarity. They are also all clones of each other which causes a lot of disease and such to collect over the years.

The SSE listing for Fleener's is the listing I got my onions from. I don't think they are Fleener's unfortunately. There were two other listings a few years ago but not now. They might have been the real Fleener's but I do not know. Zeedman might. I know he has been searching for them longer than I.


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Old May 14, 2016   #57
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I had never seen walking onions, until today. Our neighbour came over with a bunch. they are now quite happy in my garden.
Just joined this group today also, so quite excited to see this info. thanks for posting
Kensington, welcome to T'ville.
Just wanted to say thanks as well to the folks who are making this thread so interesting and informative. I'll definitely be watching the unnamed 'perennial green onion' to see if it's a better divider than the Hardy Evergreen.
I have a topsetting onion too, which came to me as "Egyptian onion" - it's red skinned and it does sometimes make topsets on top of topsets, which is in descriptions I read somewhere. Last year I planted three patches and this spring I'm seeing a big difference in earliness by microclimate - my Mom's garden they're full size and ready to harvest already, while I have one patch half size and one just two inches through the ground (very early spring here as yet).

Last night I opened and examined my Dutch Yellow shallots, and I see mold on some of the wrappers. Now I'm concerned about introducing disease. Also wondered whether I should crack and plant the cloves separately, or put whole bulbs in.
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Old May 14, 2016   #58
Jeannine Anne
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Bower, I have grown a variety of garlic for a great many years and I save my own, In the fall when I went to plant it there was a grey mold on the papery casings, I opened them and planted as usual, they have grown fine and healthy. I had them in a fridge and I think they just were perhaps too humid, anyway they were perfectly ok, There is no sign of anything being wrong with the plants at all.

I have never grown that type of shallot, the ones I grow come up as a crown of shallots each an individual one

XX Jeannine
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Old May 15, 2016   #59
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Zeedman, are those your McCullar's White? The ones I have much more green. The bulbils will get that size but only if they are well spaced. Here are a few pics of mine.

This is them last year at the end of May.


This is of a divided nest.


And the bulbils or topsets rather. The bigger ones are from a plant that has more room. Big difference.


The coloring on the topsets are different. Also are your making topsets right now?
Your point about spacing is well taken. The onions in my permanent planting look nearly identical to yours, small bulbs with green tops, and small topsets. They obviously performed much differently when given more space, and better fertility.

My topsets have not yet appeared; but I note that you get much more sprouting of the topsets than I do. Nice patch, by the way. We seem to have both chosen locations for McCullar's directly adjacent to our home, which in my case means 1/2 day sun... that may also have contributed to the more vigorous growth, when bulbils from those plants were grown in full sun.

When I refer to the "original source" for Fleener's, I am referencing this description from an older SSE Yearbook:

"The topsets can produce an onion 3" or more when grown in rich soil, the large onions when planted will produce topsets, I am still raising these on the same farm, Fall delivery, brought to Iowa in 1853 by my great-great grandmother, Elizabeth Fleener, from Indiana"

Another SSE member who grew stock from the above source described it:

"large topsets, large bulbs, excel. variety, stores well"

There were alternate listings even then from different sources, so the confusion stretches back more than 10 years.

The Fleener's stock I originally acquired was from the Iowa source listed above. Note the comment on long storage in the second source (in contrast to the poor storage I've observed with McCullar's). I had hopes that Fleener's might have turned out to be a white potato onion under a different name, since white potato onions have disappeared even from seed saving circles. Kelly Winterton's recent work with potato onions - some of which formed topsets - seems to bear out that possibility. My intent was to increase them at home, before putting them into the field for a large-scale planting... voles put a premature end to that project, and I have been looking for replacement stock since then.

"Jeannine, I have learned over the last few years that trying to figure out topsetting onions is like taking a bunch of different tomato seeds, mixing them up, throwing in crossed seeds, then trying to tell the varieties apart by just the seeds. It's a mess and as you can see from the post above the named varieties can be a mess too." (Kazedwards)

Sorry, Kaz, I'm not yet fluent with multi-quotes. I agree with that statement. I've often seen descriptions of "walking onions, a.k.a. Egyptian", or something to that effect... and reading descriptions both in the Yearbook and online, it is obvious that different walking onions are frequently offered under the same name. There is way too much confusion in walking onions, to the point where - IMO - there really is no such thing as a "reputable" source, regardless of good intentions. (I freely include myself in that disclaimer.)

Jeannine, don't become dispirited. It is entirely possible that you could have obtained the real Fleener's. Given its apparently poor winter hardiness, if any of the original stock has survived, the mild climate of the Pacific Northwest would be one of the more likely places for it to have done so... and dedicated gardeners like yourself and Annette, among others, would be its most likely custodians.

Last edited by Zeedman; May 15, 2016 at 12:20 AM.
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Old May 15, 2016   #60
Jeannine Anne
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Yes but sadly they were on my community garden when I had to give it up s all gone, all my perennial cabages, perennial kales and perennial cauliflower too. I am starting to find them again I have the perennial brassicas now.
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