Spring Planting, Wild Onion (Allium canadense)


I planted wild onion bulbils today. They came in the mail and are not good to keep in an envelope.  I split them into two groups and planted them in two corners of raised bed 3.

Allium canadense

Allium canadense

I had these wild onions in my Texas garden, they are very common lawn “weeds” and smell pretty bad when you mow over a bunch of them.  They are, however, delicious onion greens for cooking or eating raw.  They multiply like crazy, so once you get them started, you will never need to buy green onions in the market economy.  Toss some on top of meat when you grill, and enjoy.

In Texas and Seattle, I dug and transplanted wild onions into my mixed vegetable-flower beds.  It is good to have plenty of them because their pretty pinkish-white flowers look lovely in the front of flowers or vegetables and they repel insects and voles.

My Texas lawn had a good hundred of them, which I transferred to the back garden like crazy.  In part because my son was feeling rebellious about mowing the lawn while masses of onions made his eyes burn and the smell was overwhelming,  and in part because they are a national treasure.  When they all bloomed, it was gorgeous.

In Seattle, I found some in a field near my son’s house and dug up a small batch of them to transplant into my vegetable garden.  They did not suffer transplant shock and bloomed the same year.  There are a few plants that resemble wild onions, but none taste or smell like onions.

As the flower heads turn into bulbils, share with others.  The bulbils are nice to add to pickles, and hold their shape well.  I look forward to adding them to my lacto-fermented vegetables as well.

Wild onions are a medicinal plant, as are all the alliums.  Just adding them to your diet has many health benefits.  That onion smell is sulphur and they were the original sulfa drug.  I had so many in Texas that I planted little groups of them all around my yard both for their beauty and for their insect protection.

Granted I have just over a dozen wild onion bulbils, which won’t come into their own for at least a year; however they are worth the wait.  As hard as it was to hit the market economy for something I expect to be free, better to bite the bullet and make the addition to my circular economy and food forest.  As they grow and multiply, I will transfer some uphill.

Deer won’t normally eat wild onion, but turkeys like them.  Turkeys were once common here, but were hunted out.  They were restocked but they have not spread this far… yet.  Doesn’t hurt to start planting turkey food.

Allium canadense is delicious and will naturalize in most US gardens.  I recommend it as one of the easiest edibles for a new gardner.  Let it come up where it will, pull and eat.

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About rebeccatreeseed

I am a naturalist raised by naturalists. Treeseed is my earned name, while Rebecca is my birth name. I am of Northern European descent, with a quarter Irish.quarter thrown in. I suspect I was a product of northern invaders into Ireland into Ireland. but hard to say since DNA disproved the family story about Apache blood! I have found some odd ancestors to replace them. Last year I bought 5 acres of pinyon-juniper forest on the side of a mountain in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. I am fulfilling a lifetime dream of a cabin in the mountains and a food forest that will feed me and local wildlife. I want to share this new phase of my life with others that might be interested.
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7 Responses to Spring Planting, Wild Onion (Allium canadense)

  1. My kids LOVE wild onion but I’ve never actually cooked with it… I think I will try it with the next batch they pick! Thanks for the tip!!

  2. Helen says:

    Never seen wild onion before – I wonder if it exists where I am? Will look out for it now, though.

    • Wild onions and garlic grow all over the world… you probably have a species or three in your area. After our 11 year drought, we are short a lot of things locally.

      • Helen says:

        Eleven year drought – my word!

        There’s plenty of wild garlic about here…. Tried to grow my own but the seeds didn’t germinate. Or at least, I thought they didn’t but it has just occurred to me that the unexpected vegetables that have appeared amongst the cauliflower seedlings may just be wild garlic 🙂

  3. That’s some good information! I haven’t tried growing wild onion till now, and my sister though is growing it for years and her kids just love it. Thank you for sharing this helpful information and happy gardening!

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