Green onions

I've written before about how I hate throwing away plants. I may have way too many tomato seedlings than I can plant, or more potted bamboos than I know what to do with, but I feel like I owe it to the plant to give it a chance. Sometimes that even means saving plants that you don't even really think of as plants.

Take for instance these green onions. You can buy a handful at any grocery store for about 50 cents. In our house we use these on any mexican food we make (nachos and burritos mainly), in miso soup, and they're a key ingredient in some of our own concoctions.


The thing is, you only use the green part of these plants, and maybe a bit of the whitish bulb, then throw away the ends -- which are perfectly good plants! Since they usually come with small root stubs emerging already, why not try growing these?

Also, the green ends don't stay fresh too long in the fridge, so you can't buy several bunches to just keep around until you need them. Running out to the store whenever you need them gets to be a pain too, and is impractical when you want to whip up some soup at lunchtime. Having them growing right in your kitchen is the solution.

To do this is really easy. Just leave a bit more of the white stem than you might normally, and put the root ends into a glass with an inch or so of water in it. Put the plants in front of the window if your kitchen has one, or somewhere it can get some light. That's it.

The plants will produce new green "leaves" pretty quickly. You can see where I cut the stems originally in this next photo -- just above the rubberband:

If you really want the plants to be productive, plant them in a pot with some potting mix. I haven't done that yet with these, as they'll stay in the water for a few weeks at least. They'd be happier in some soil though, and would like some fertilizer I think.

The roots do get a little bit funky being in the water all of the time -- is that purplish stuff mildew?

I really should put these into some soil -- the roots are getting too long!

You may want to grow more of these than you would normally buy to ensure that you always have a fresh supply, as you don't want to remove all of the green parts from every single plant each time you harvest. Maybe grow three bunches of these and harvest a third of it every few days. Depending on how much light and fertilizer the plants are getting, that should work pretty well, at least for a while. (Note that fertilizing is optional. The plants above have not been fertilized, but they're starting to look like they might need some.)

It's nice having fresh green onions always available, they're super-easy to grow, and they're plants. Do you need more reasons to give growing them a try?

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Gerhard Bock (Succulents and More)  – (December 1, 2010 at 10:12 AM)  

What an excellent idea! I'll give that try right away.

Gene  – (December 1, 2010 at 11:08 AM)  

Alan, its a disease my friend! Next thing you know, you are going to be tearing holes in the roof to put in skylights so you have more light in the you can grow more plants.....which will cause you to need more light!

Alan  – (December 1, 2010 at 11:36 AM)  

Gene, I've already considered that. Adding lights in the basement is easier. =) Luckily I'm not as crazy about houseplants as I am about bamboo, and my efforts to grow bamboo indoors were thwarted by leaf-chewing cats.

Alan  – (December 1, 2010 at 2:59 PM)  

I just realized these are a great plant bargain too! If you were to buy these as plants from a garden center, they'd probably be sold as herbs if you could even find them, and they'd cost at least $1 per plant. Here you get 10+ plants for 50 cents! =)

Steve Lau  – (December 1, 2010 at 6:15 PM)  

If you have a south facing window with enough light, it should work with soil. I plant garlic cloves/ bulbets and onion seeds in the fall and let those take off growing as soon as March once the snow melts.

Nat  – (February 23, 2011 at 2:22 PM)  

I've accidentally stumbled onto this effect, it's pretty amazing. Odd that your regular person doesn't real consider this an option. Fresh green onions anyone. great!

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