by Lars H
Allium vegetables are a group of vegetables that are commonly used in cooking for their strong, distinctive flavor and aroma. This group includes onions, garlic, shallots, leeks, and chives and others that you’ll see in the list below.
In addition to their flavorful properties, allium vegetables are also a rich source of important nutrients, including vitamins and minerals.
Allium vegetables like garlic, onions, and leeks have a long history of use in folk remedies, due to their potential health benefits. These vegetables contain sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin and sulfenic acids, which are believed to contribute to their antimicrobial, antiviral, and antibacterial properties.
Garlic, in particular, has been used for thousands of years for its medicinal properties, including its ability to help lower cholesterol levels, prevent blood clots, and reduce the risk of heart disease. It is also thought to have antibacterial and antiviral properties, making it useful for preventing and treating various infections.
Onions contain a variety of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which may help protect against certain types of cancer and reduce the risk of heart disease. They are also a good source of Vitamin C, which contributes to a strong immune system.
Growing allium vegetables is a straightforward process that can be done in a garden in the ground, a raised bed garden or in pots.
Alliums are not only vegetables but also flowers. In fact, some species of Alliums, such as Giant Allium (Allium giganteum) and Round Headed Garlic (Allium sphaerocephalon), are grown specifically for their ornamental value and are often used in cut flower arrangements or as garden plants.
Allium flowers are distinctive in their appearance, with large, spherical heads of densely packed florets that can range in color from white to pink to purple. These flowers are often pollinated by bees and other insects, and their nectar provides a valuable food source for these pollinators.
In the garden, Alliums are easy to grow and require little maintenance, making them a popular choice for gardeners looking to add a touch of color and interest to their flower beds and borders.
Commonly used as a culinary herb. As a perennial plant, they can be planted in a permanent location in your garden. They are known for their thin, green leaves which have a mild onion flavor and are often used in salads, sauces, and other dishes. The flowers of chives are also edible.
Chives are hardy plants that can tolerate cold winter conditions and can also withstand periods of drought. They prefer full sun to partial shade, and well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. When planting chives, it is best to do so in the spring or fall, and they should be spaced about 6-8 inches apart.
To harvest chives, simply cut the leaves as needed, starting from the outermost leaves and working inward. Chives can be harvested about 60-70 days after planting and will continue to produce new leaves throughout the growing season.
Learn more about growing chives.
Elephant Garlic (Giant Garlic)
Elephant garlic, also known as giant garlic or great-headed garlic, is a type of garlic that is prized for its large size and mild flavor. Unlike traditional garlic, which has multiple small cloves, elephant garlic has only a few large cloves that are easier to peel and chop. It is a popular ingredient in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and African cooking, as well as in many other cuisines around the world.
As a hardy and relatively low-maintenance crop, garlic is a great choice for gardeners who like to cook. To grow garlic, it is best to plant the cloves in spring after the risk of frost has passed. It is important to choose varieties of garlic that are well-suited to your climate zone, as different varieties have varying requirements for temperature and growing conditions.
When planting garlic, it is important to plant the cloves with the pointed end facing up and 2 to 3 inches deep in well-drained soil. Space the cloves about 6-8 inches apart. Garlic prefers full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter.
To harvest garlic, simply wait until the tops of the plants have died back, which usually occurs in late summer or early fall. Dig up the bulbs carefully and allow them to dry in a well-ventilated area for several weeks. Once the garlic has cured, it can be stored for several months, allowing you to enjoy its flavor and health benefits throughout the year.
Learn more about growing garlic.
Kurrat (Egyptian Leek)
Kurrat is an allium vegetable that is native to the Mediterranean region. It is similar in appearance to a leek, but has a stronger, more pungent flavor. Kurrat is commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine, where it is often sautéed, roasted, or used as a base for soups and stews. Because of its strong flavor, it is typically used in smaller quantities than other alliums. Kurrat is also a popular ingredient in pickling, as it provides a unique, savory flavor to the pickled products.
Closely related to onions, leeks have a milder, more delicate flavor. They are often used in soups, stews, and other dishes to add flavor and texture. Leeks can be expensive to purchase at the grocery store, but they are straightforward to grow in the garden yourself.
To grow leeks, you can start them from seeds in early spring or use starter plants. It is important to plant the seeds or starter plants in well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Leeks prefer full sun to partial shade and can grow to be quite tall, so be sure to space them appropriately in your garden.
To harvest leeks, it is best to use a trowel to dig them up rather than pulling them by hand. This will help to minimize damage to the roots and ensure that the leeks are not damaged during harvest. Leeks do not store well, so it is important to harvest them as needed and to mulch them if you live in a climate with cold winters.
Leeks typically take about 100-150 days from planting to reach maturity and be ready for harvest, depending on the variety of leek being grown, your gardening zone and other factors.
To figure out when your leeks are ready for harvest, look for the green shoots to be well-developed and the stems to be thick and firm. You can also gently tug on the leeks to see if they are ready to be pulled from the ground. If the stems come away easily, it’s a good sign that the leeks are ready to be harvested.
Learn more about growing leeks.
Onions are a staple ingredient in many cuisines around the world, and they are straightforward to grow in your garden. They can be grown from seed or from sets, which are small bulbs that are planted in the spring. When growing onions from seed, it is best to start them indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last expected frost date and transplant them outside when they are 2-3 inches tall. When planting sets, it is best to plant them in the spring, 1-2 inches deep and 3-4 inches apart.
Onions require well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. They prefer full sun and can tolerate a wide range of soils, from heavy clay to light sand. However, for best results, it is important to provide them with soil that is moist but not waterlogged, and to amend the soil with compost or other organic matter to improve its fertility.
Onions typically take about 100-140 days from planting to reach maturity and be ready for harvest. This can vary depending on the variety of onion being grown, the growing conditions, and other factors such as climate and soil fertility. To determine when your onions are ready for harvest, look for the leaves to begin to yellow and fall over. At this point, gently dig up the onions and let them dry in the sun for a few days. Then, store them in a cool, dry place to use throughout the year.
Learn more about growing onions.
Ramsons (Allium ursinum)
Ramsons, also known as wild garlic, is a type of wild onion that grows in the woods and fields of Europe and has a strong garlic flavor.
Scallions, also known as green onions, can be grown from seed or from sets, and they are typically planted in the spring. When growing scallions from seed, it is best to start them indoors 6 to 8 weeks before the last expected frost date and transplant them outside when they are 2-3 inches tall. When planting sets, it is best to plant them in the spring, 1-2 inches deep and 3-4 inches apart.
Scallions prefer well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter, and they thrive in full sun. However, they are also able to tolerate partial shade and a wide range of soils, from heavy clay to light sand. To provide the best growing conditions for your scallions, it is important to amend the soil with compost or other organic matter to improve its fertility, and to provide consistent moisture throughout the growing season.
Scallions typically take about 50-70 days from planting to reach maturity and be ready for harvest. This can vary depending on the variety of scallion being grown, the growing conditions, and other factors such as climate and soil fertility. To determine when your scallions are ready for harvest, look for the green shoots to be well-developed and the stems to be thick and firm. Scallions can be harvested at any time, and they are often used when they are young and tender, as they become more pungent and strong-flavored as they mature.
Allium scapes are the stem-like flower stalks that grow from the center of certain allium vegetables, such as garlic and hardneck varieties of garlic. They emerge from the soil in the spring and can be harvested before the bulbs are ready to be harvested. Allium scapes are edible, and they have a tender, mild flavor that is similar to garlic but slightly sweeter.
Shallots are a type of onion that is prized for their delicate flavor and versatility in cooking. They are typically planted in the fall or early spring, depending on your climate and growing conditions. When planting shallots, it is important to choose a well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter, and to plant the bulbs 4-6 inches apart and 2-3 inches deep.
Shallots require full sun to thrive, but they are also able to tolerate some shade. It is important to keep the soil consistently moist throughout the growing season, and to provide adequate nutrients by adding compost or other organic matter to the soil. Shallots are a low-maintenance crop that are relatively pest and disease-resistant, making them an excellent choice for the home garden.
Shallots typically take about 8-10 months from planting to reach maturity and be ready for harvest. This can vary depending on the variety of shallot being grown, the growing conditions, and other factors such as climate and soil fertility. To determine when your shallots are ready for harvest, look for the tops of the plants to begin to yellow and fall over, and for the bulbs to be well-formed and firm. Shallots are a flavorful and versatile ingredient that are easy to grow in the garden, and they require well-drained soil, full sun, and consistent moisture to thrive.
Walking Onions (Egyptian walking onions, tree onions, potato onions, multiplier onions)
Walking onions are a type of allium vegetable that are known for their unique growth habit. They produce bulbils, or tiny bulbs, on the top of their stalks, which eventually fall over and “walk” across the ground, planting themselves and creating new plants. There are several different types of walking onions, including Egyptian walking onions, tree onions, potato onions and multiplier onions.
Did we miss any of your favorite allium vegetables? Let us know so we can add them to the list!