Scallion Picking: How Do You Harvest Scallions

By: Nikki Tilley, Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden

While most people know that scallions are simply young, immature onions that are easy to grow, not everyone is certain about scallion picking or harvesting. Scallions are harvested for their greens and small, white stem that grows underground. Both the greens and white stalk of the scallion can be sliced or chopped and added to salads or used as garnish. They can also be cooked and are often used as a substitute for chives in many recipes. In fact, a mature scallion is actually quite similar looking to a large chive.

When to Pick Scallions

Scallions are typically harvested prior to the formation of the onion bulb. Generally, the younger the scallion, the milder the flavor. The exact time for scallion picking varies upon personal preference but is usually within about 60 days after planting.

Scallions can be harvested several times throughout the season depending on their level of maturity, with most people harvesting them once they are at least a half inch (1.2 cm.) thick or anywhere from 8-12 inches (20-30 cm.) tall. Another way to tell their maturity is color. Scallions should be green, upright, and succulent whereas onions are ready for picking once they’ve turned yellow and flop over.

How Do You Harvest Scallions?

Once scallions are ready to be harvested, gently loosen the surrounding soil so you can carefully pull them up. When harvesting scallions, choose the largest and use them first, as it is best to both harvest and use scallions right away. Scallions left for too long will quickly wilt and loose their freshness.

However, if you are unable to use all of your harvested scallions, they may be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. It’s best not to wash them if storing is necessary. Keep the scallions in an airtight, plastic bag. Some people find placing them in a damp paper towel works as well.

When preparing scallions, be sure to trim off the roots and tip of the white stem as well as the top two inches (5 cm.) of greenery.

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How To Harvest And Preserve Green Onions

Posted on Last updated: 07/10/2020 By: Author Shannon

Green onions have become one of my favorite garden plants because they are incredibly easy to grow and can be used in so many ways. I add them fresh, frozen, or dried to all kinds of things like salads, soups, eggs, casseroles, and meat marinades.

If you’re a gardener and you like onions, I highly encourage you to try growing green onions if you’re not already.

Spring Onions, Green Onions and Scallions

Young onions offer a range of taste from mild and smooth to pungent and biting. You can eat raw young onions whole with a dipping sauce or chopped in a green salad or potato salad or pasta salad. Raw green onions chopped make a colorful topping for sauces or baked potatoes.

Onions cooked become mild and even sweet. Young onions require less cooking than mature onions since they are not very pungent to begin with. Just a couple of minutes of sautéing will mellow a young onion that has gained any bite. You’ll find cooked young onions mild enough to serve at breakfast.

So what do you call young onions? Spring onions, green onions, or scallions? Here we go!

Depending upon the maturity of the onion and where you live, you will pick up a bunch of young onions and say, “I’ll take these….”

Are they spring onions, green onions, or scallions?

Scallions. Scallions are the youngest or least mature of onions with very thin white bases no wider than their long, straight green stalks. Scallions offer no hint at the development of a bulb-like base. Pulled from the ground a scallion resembles a large chive. Scallions are very mild flavored. Both the white base and the green stalk of the scallion are easily eaten raw. You can slice or chop scallions and add them raw to green salads. You can also serve them on the raw vegetable tray or sprinkle them raw as a topping for sauces.

Scallions can be cooked whole or chopped, but they will require no more than a couple of minutes of cooking. (Sauté or pan steam them on low heat in butter or water.) Scallions can be used as a substitute for chives in many recipes. Scallions are sometimes called green onions or bunching onions, but for onion lovers and growers there is a difference. A green onion or bunching onion has gained the hint of a bulb with maturity a scallion has not.

Green onions. Green onions have long, green, delicate stalks and small, very, very slender, white bulbs. The bulb of a green onion is slightly defined. Green onions come out of the ground early in their lives, usually in spring. They are mild tasting having not been alive long enough to gain much pungency. Green onions can be used sliced or chopped raw in green salads or creamy salads like potato salad, pasta salads, or atop baked potatoes.

Green onions are sometimes called bunching onions. When onion seeds are planted densely they grow so close or bunched together that the bulbs have little chance of fully maturing and rounding out. Green onions are green onions in the United States in England and Australia the green onion is also called a spring onion. Green onions are sometimes also called scallions. (But, now, you know there is a difference even if ever so slight.)

Spring onions. Spring onions have slightly rounded bulbs that are more defined and just a bit larger than the more slender green onions. Spring onions are the most pungent tasting of young onions with a bit more bite than green onions. Remember, most onions gain their sharp taste as they mature. Spring onions can be used raw or cooked. Because raw spring onions are pungent, taste to make sure their flavor does not overpower more delicate flavors. You can slice raw spring onions thinly onto green salads.

Cooked spring onions—usually sautéed—will be more delicately flavored as a result of the cooking process and are a good combination with other spring and summer vegetables. The spring onion is distinctly different than a green onion to many growers and onion lovers in the United States. In England and Australia, a spring onion and a green onion are most often considered the same bird.

Help Around the Kitchen

Preserve those extra bunches of green onions for soups, sauces and savory baked goods to come.


Photo by: Juan Monino / Getty Images

Juan Monino / Getty Images

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By Amanda Neal for Food Network Kitchen

Have your scallions turned limp and slimy before you had an opportunity to use them all? It's a common occurrence. Green onions can turn from fresh to rotten in a week or less. But there are ways to preserve those surplus scallions before they go bad. Follow these easy steps for freezing green onions whenever you have an extra bunch on hand.

What are Green Onions?

Green onions (also known as scallions) are a part of the allium family, which includes shallots, onions and garlic. Green onions have a subtle flavor and aroma compared to other alliums, making them perfect for a variety of dishes. The entire green onion can be eaten raw or cooked. While green onions are at their peak season starting in the early spring and lasting through the warm summer months, most supermarkets sell green onions year round.

Washing and Trimming

Before freezing, it's important to thoroughly wash and trim your scallions. Remove and discard any limp or slimy green stalks, then run them under cold water to remove any dirt or debris. Pat very dry between a few paper towels.

It’s best to slice green onions before freezing so they are easier to thaw and incorporate into various recipes. First, cut away the root attached to the bulb, then thinly slice the entire stalk, making sure to keep the dark green and white parts separate.

Storage and Freezing

Now that they are cleaned and prepped, transfer the sliced green onions to a parchment paper-lined sheet tray or plate and spread in a single layer. Place in the freezer until completely frozen, 1 to 2 hours. This step is important because it will keep the green onions from freezing together in one big clump. Once frozen, transfer the sliced scallion greens and whites to 2 separate containers or resealable freezer bags. Label the containers with the date, then store in the freezer for up to 6 months.

Cooking with Frozen Scallions

Green onions tend to go limp when frozen and thawed, so it’s best to use them for cooking and baking rather than eating raw. Simply pull them out of the freezer and stir directly in soups, stews and sauces. Alternatively, thaw in the refrigerator and add to your favorite savory baked goods.

Add green onions to Roasted Pepper, Scallion and Sausage Quiche or tossed them into Sheet Pan Fried Rice. If you prefer a baking project, try these Cheddar-Scallion Biscuits or Poblano-Scallion Cornbread. Green onions add a hint of onion flavor and pop of freshness to your recipes. Follow these simple steps and you'll never waste another bunch!

How to Grow Scallions From Planting to Harvest

They’re fresh, fast and fabulous in salads, stir-fries, quiches and savory tarts. We’re talking about growing scallions, also known as spring onions, green onions, or salad onions. Whatever you call them, they’re great for fitting in wherever there’s space and will give you a harvest of delicious stems in as little as eight weeks.

Scallions are also one of those crops that can be sown in late summer to give one of the earliest harvests next spring. So let’s get on and grow some!

Sowing Scallions

Like their bulb-forming cousins, scallions prefer a sunny, open site and fertile, well-drained soil. For best results, grow them in soil that’s been improved with regular additions of well-rotted organic matter such as compost.

These tall, thin plants don’t take up much space, so they’re ideal for containers. Or be opportunistic and grow them between rows of slower growing vegetables such as parsnips until they need the extra space. Another option is to grow them with carrots, where they may help to reduce problems with carrot rust fly.

Start sowing under cover from late winter, then continue outside from spring. Sow short rows every three to four weeks to give a steady supply of oniony stems. Your last sowings, made at the very end of summer using a winter hardy variety, will be ready to harvest early next season.

Sow seeds directly where they are to grow or into containers of potting soil to transplant later on.

Direct Sowing Scallions

Direct sow seeds into finely-raked soil. Mark out a drill about half an inch (1cm) deep. Use a string line if you prefer neat, straight rows. Additional rows should be spaced about 4in (10cm) apart. If it’s hot and dry, water along the rows before sowing. This creates a cooler environment around the seeds, helping them to germinate.

Sow the seeds thinly along the rows then pinch the drill closed to cover the seeds. Alternatively, backfill the rows with potting soil. This is useful if your soil isn’t as fine and crumbly as you’d like at sowing time, and also helps rows to stand out clearly from the surrounding soil for the purposes of weeding. Once you’re done, label the rows and water thoroughly.

Sowing Scallions in Plug Trays

Sowing into containers helps to make the best use of your available space because you can start seedlings off while the ground is still occupied by a growing crop. And by starting plants off under the protection of a greenhouse, tunnel or cold frame you’ll be able to start sowing up to six weeks sooner at the beginning of the growing season.

The easiest method is to use plug trays. Fill your plug trays with a general-purpose potting mix then firm the mix down into the modules with your fingertips. Sow a pinch of four to eight seeds per module then cover them with more potting mix. Water and keep the potting soil moist as the seedlings appear and grow on.

Transplant the clusters of seedlings as soon as they have filled their modules and you can see roots at the drainage holes. Carefully ease the plugs from the tray then plant them into prepared soil so each cluster is 2-4in (5-10cm) apart within the row, with rows spaced at least 4in (10cm) apart. Water the young plants to settle the soil around the root ball.

Caring for Scallions

Direct sown scallions shouldn’t need much thinning but if there are any overly thick clusters of seedlings, remove some of the excess to leave about half an inch (1cm) between plants.

Remove weeds as soon as they appear to prevent them from overwhelming your plants. Scallions are shallow-rooting, so water in dry weather to speed growth and minimize the risk of plants bolting, or flowering prematurely.

Scallions are rarely bothered by pests but birds can sometimes peck at the emerging seedlings, particularly early on in the season. Cover sown areas and seedlings with row covers if this proves to be a problem.

Harvesting Scallions

Scallions are typically ready to enjoy 10 to 12 weeks after sowing, though at the height of the growing season it can be as soon as eight. Harvest the largest plants first so that those left can continue to grow. This way you can extend and maximize your harvest.

Store your scallions in the refrigerator or slice them up to pack into freezer bags or containers to add to recipes whenever you need a boost of fresh flavor.

Scallions are reliable, versatile and downright delicious—I wouldn’t be without them, that’s for sure! What about you? You can let us know down below.

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How to Grow Scallions Outdoors

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.

How to Tell The Difference Between Mild and Pungent Onions

There are two main types of globe onions: pungent and mild. Mild onions are typically large and juicy with thick rings and thin, papery skins that peel easily. They can be cooked, but can also be eaten raw on sandwiches or burgers. And mild onions are the ones you want inside an onion ring. Unfortunately, mild onions are poor keepers. Even in ideal storage conditions, they will only maintain their eating quality for a couple months. So if you grow both mild and pungent onions, eat the mild ones first. A bumper crop of mild onions can be preserved in pickles, salsas and chutneys or you can turn them into caramelized onions.

Popular "mild" onion varieties:

Pungent onions are usually smaller in size, have thinner rings, tighter skins and make your eyes sting when you cut them. The same sulfurous compounds that draw tears inhibit rot, so the more pungent the onion the longer it will store.


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