by Jennifer Poindexter
Are you a fan of onions? I love all the varieties, but my favorite is the scallion. They go wonderfully as a topping for soup on cold days.
Scallions are also a nice addition to the top of a salad or pasta dish. If you’re an admirer of scallions, consider raising them yourself. They’re easy to grow, require little space, and are a tasty addition to many dishes. Here’s what you should know to grow scallions around your home.
Growing Conditions for Scallions
Scallions are young onions which haven’t had the chance to form a bulb. Therefore, they have the same requirements as other types of onions.
They need sandy, well-draining soil and full sun. Scallions are perennials in planting zone six through nine, if cared for properly.
Scallions can be planted in the ground in a bed, raised beds, or in larger containers. This makes them a great fit for most every gardener.
If you’d love to have fresh onions right at your backdoor, consider growing scallions and be sure to provide these few minimal requirements to give them the greatest chance at thriving.
How to Plant Scallions
Scallions can be planted as seeds or sets. Planting them from seeds is the more frugal option, but it’s also more time consuming.
If you have a shorter growing season and need a jump on things, starting scallions from sets might be the better option for you.
I’m going to walk you through both growing options, and you can decide which method is best for your situation.
If growing your scallions from seeds, it’s best to start them indoors ten weeks prior to the last frost in your area.
Place the seeds in a grow tray. If you have cells in the grow tray, plant two seeds per cell as a germination insurance policy.
If one fails to germinate, you have a back-up. Yet, if both seeds germinate, pick the stronger of the two plants. Germination can take up to two weeks.
As the scallions grow, don’t let them reach over four inches in height. Trim them back when they grow too tall.
One week before your final frost, transplant the seedlings outdoors in their designated grow space. Keep one inch of space between each plant and plant each seedling ¼ inch deep. This should be deep enough to support the shallow root system of the seedling.
If you choose to grow your scallions from sets, you can skip over the indoor phase. Instead, transplant the sets one week prior to the final frost in your area.
Leave one inch of space between each plant. Sets may have larger bulbs than what you’d start indoors. If so, prepare to plant them as deep as two inches into the soil.
Once you get the initial set of plants into the ground, you can sow successively one time per month throughout the beginning of the grow season.
The seeds should germinate outdoors when the temperatures rise. Scallions tend to grow best when the temperatures are between 70- and 80-degrees Fahrenheit.
Keep all of this information in mind when choosing the best method for planting your scallions and whether you’ll participate in succession planting throughout the season.
Caring for Scallions
Scallions require nothing outside of the most basic plant care. This includes watering, weeding, mulching, and fertilizing.
When watering scallions, it’s best to have frequent and light watering sessions. You don’t want to deep water when growing scallions because of their shallow roots.
Therefore, make it a habit to water your plants, gently, for only a few minutes at a time every other day. If the plants show signs of distress, either water longer during your watering sessions, or switch to watering every day.
You should try your best to keep weeds to a minimum in your scallion beds. Any weeds in the bed are competing for nutrients with your plants.
Weeding should be done by hand because of the scallions’ shallow roots. You don’t want to disturb the roots in an effort to remove weeds.
One of the best ways to keep weeds down is to mulch. This will also help hold moisture in around the plants.
If growing scallions as a perennial crop, mulch the plants heavily during fall to protect them from brutal temperatures over the winter months.
Finally, plan on fertilizing your scallions once per month. Be sure to use a balanced fertilizer when providing this necessity for your scallion crop.
By fulfilling a few basic needs of scallions, you’re giving them the greatest opportunity to provide an amazing harvest at the right time.
Garden Pests and Diseases for Scallions
Scallions are a popular crop around the garden. Unfortunately, it isn’t only with the gardeners. Pests and diseases love this plant as well.
You should be on guard for cutworms, onion nematodes, slugs, onions maggots, leaf miners, and thrips. The only disease you should be aware of is downy mildew.
To treat cutworms, onion maggots, onion nematodes, thrips, and leaf miners, apply an insecticide. Be sure to read the label to ensure it treats every pest mentioned here.
If you notice slugs have moved into your scallion crop, apply diatomaceous earth around the base of the plants or coffee grounds.
The DE will create a hazardous terrain for the slugs to crawl over. The caffeinated coffee is used as a deterrent of future slugs as they don’t like caffeine.
Downy mildew can be treated with a fungicide. However, it can be prevented by providing proper spacing between the plants.
This will increase airflow around the plants and decrease the opportunity for downy mildew to thrive. You should also water earlier in the day as this gives the plants time to dry before cool night temperatures move in.
Again, this decreases the likelihood of this fungus breeding because you remove the proper conditions for it to prosper.
By staying alert to these pests and diseases, you’re giving your scallions a fighting chance against things which will bring harm to your plants.
How to Harvest Scallions
Scallions can be harvested multiple times throughout their grow season. When the sprouts have the length and circumference of a piece of licorice, they’re ready to be harvested.
The main thing to remember is to harvest scallions while they’re young. The harvest is more tender and flavorful at this time. They should also be about four or five inches tall.
There are two different ways to harvest. The first is if you’re treating your scallions as annuals. If so, pull them directly out of the ground.
If the soil is hard, you may use a garden tool to release them from the soil without damaging the harvest.
However, if you’re treating scallions as a perennial, don’t harvest them at all during the first year. In year two and beyond, only trim the foliage of the plant. Don’t remove the bulb from the ground.
Once the harvest is complete, bring it indoors, wash the scallions, chop them, and store them in your refrigerator for later use.
Growing scallions is a simple process because they require minimal care. The only complicated part is staying alert to potential threats.
However, by staying aware, you should receive a beautiful harvest that’s full of flavor. If you could use a boost in the kitchen, consider adding homegrown scallions to the mix.