Walk Like an Egyptian

My son's bus driver gave me a small paper bag last fall—it was filled with Egyptian walking onions.

by Jessica Walliser
Egyptian walking onion bulbets
Photo by Jessica Walliser
My son’s bus driver gave me these Egyptian walking onion bulblets so I can start growing them in my garden.

My son’s bus driver gave me a small paper bag last fall—it was filled with Egyptian walking onions. I have never grown these edible alliums before but am familiar with them and was very excited to have some of the small bulbs to start a patch of my own. They are smaller than a traditional onion but have a typical onion flavor. It’s their unusual growth habit that makes them so interesting to me.

Egyptian walking onions don’t produce a flower on top of their scape (flowering stalk) like other members of the onion family do. Instead, they form a cluster of tiny bulblets. If you don’t harvest and replant the bulblets yourself, the stem simply topples under their weight. They’ll take root where they land and grow all on their own—essentially causing the crop to “walk” across the garden. They are very winter hardy, and by either replanting a few of the bulbs or by letting them walk, you’ll always have a crop of fresh onions.

Egyptian walking onions can be difficult to find at your local nursery or farm store. (Trust, me I’ve looked!) Finding a fellow gardener with a colony of their own and a willingness to share is probably your best bet. There are a handful of online sources, too.

Plant Egyptian walking onions them in well-drained soil, high in organic matter, and make sure they get a minimum of six hours of full sun per day.

Because there were more bulbs than I have room for in my garden, I passed a handful of them on to another gardening friend. I know he’ll appreciate them, too—for both their flavor and their unique nature.

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