The Shed

The Shed
The Shed

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Farm Girl's Corner: Walla-Walla Onions


Hi! I'm Farm Girl and welcome to Farm Girls Corner. I help Uncle Mac around the garden and shed and hayloft and so forth. I help weed his corn and water his tomatoes; I'll often yank his carrot when the need is urgent.

But today I'm going to discuss a favorite onion which we like to grow here. It is called the Walla-Walla onion, or sometimes the Walla-Walla sweet onion. This large, flattened and generally perfectly rounded alium is perfectly designed by nature for sandwich and burger slicing.

Its mild and generally sweet flavor make it ideal for those who love onion taste but not too much heat. Walla-Wallas make wonderful onion rings and delightful soup. It is a sizeable onion and delivers quite a bit of crop for a smallish garden space.

Walla Walla onions are nothing new. The story is that the were brought to Washington State's Walla Walla Valley by a French soldier who acquired the seeds of a small but sweet onion while on the island of Corsica. Arriving in the valley around 1900 selective breeding by the soldier, one Piere Pieri. He along with his family and neighbors brought this fine onion to it's full potential via selective breeding.

It is, at the time of this writing the state vegetable of Washington State. The entire Alium genus is no doubt exceedingly proud of this honor.

Large examples of these onions may reach 6” in diameter or though most will be between 4” and 6”. These are “long day” onions which can also thrive in the intermediate growing zone. This means that anywhere from the middle USA to southern Canada are reasonable locations for your Walla-Walla beds.

The plants take about 90 days to mature and are available from many, many gardener's supply houses. Dixondale farms is one such reliable source:

There are many others.

We prefer starting our beds from transferred plants rather than from sets or by direct seeding but all three methods can be successful. Walla-Walla plants are generally hardy, trouble free growers.


Deep soil laced with lots of compost, full sunlight, abundant water and weeding are the recipe for success with this simple root crop.

If there is one problem with this onion it is that its maximum storage life is about 30 days, not long compared to true long-keepers, so they must be used quickly or perhaps made into soups or other dishes which can be frozen.

In any event if you have never tried this onion we suggest you give it a sunny corner in your garden and prepare for a sweet surprise.

Thank you for visiting Farm Girl's Corner.

Stop back soon!