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Grow some 'walking onions' and shallots now to add delicious mild onion flavor to your life

Plant some unique onion crops in your garden, like shallots and 'walking' onions.
Floortje/Getty Images
Plant some unique onion crops in your garden, like shallots and 'walking' onions.

It will soon be time to plant garlic but you can also put in some unusual onion varieties now and enjoy their mild flavors soon!

Soon, you can plant your garlic but in the meantime, you can try two other onion relatives and plant them now: shallots and ‘walking’ onions.

Shallots are small little onions that have a very sweet, mild flavor. They are red or gray and both are both French varieties used frequently in cooking.

The red shallot has the red skin with a little bit of a pinkish colored flesh. And the gray shallot isn’t as colorful but is full of flavor.

Another type to try is called Dutch red, which looks like a little round onion with white flesh.

You can plant shallots at the same time as garlic, in the same way and the same in your garden.

And then in the spring, the shallots will come up and separate out at the soil line so you'll know when they're ready to harvest. You can plant a second crop in the early summer that will be ready in fall.

The Dutch shallots can actually be left in storage for a year and you can add hat mild onion flavor to your favorite dishes year round.

The second unusual onion type is called the walking onion or the Egyptian onion.

This crop is a perennial, kind of like asparagus and rhubarb. These onions come up as green onion tops, which is the part you would use in cooking.

Eventually though, tops form on the onions that get heavy. Once the tops are too heavy to stay upright, the whole stem droops over onto the soil and roots right there.

This is how this crop gets its name, as it seems to move or “walk” across your garden.

Walking onions are easy to grow and they are a perennial. Watch them, though, as in no time, they will spread far and wide and you’ll have a huge crop in no time!

Like garlic, plant shallot sets now six inches deep, four to six weeks before the ground freezes.

Cover with straw and overwinter. They will yield an early crop in spring!

You can also plant them in spring for a summer crop. Shallots need full sun, well-drained, fertile soil, moisture and good weeding.

Side bulbs form around the planted set. Once they begin to separate from the mother bulb and the plant yellows — harvest, cure and store for cooking.

Q: Could Charlie give advice on ways to support a garden and lawn that has been invaded by snake worms? How do I save plants, mosses, and forest edge? - Patty in Waterbury

Snake worms are abundant all over Vermont. A great resource is through the University of Vermont, in particular, Joseph Gorres has done a lot of research on snake worms. Also, Cornell University has information on snake worms and how to control them.

In your own garden, the first thing to do is identify them. The snake worm is a jumping worm; it wiggles a lot and jumps up and down a lot more so than the regular earthworm.

Snake worms also have a white band around the body that is not symmetrical. Those are two signs that you have snake worms in your garden, lawn or raised bed.

Snake worms also eat a lot of organic matter. If you notice some bare areas in the forest around you, that's another sign of snake worms.

A couple of techniques can work to eliminate them: take a gallon of water, warm it up and put a third of a cup of yellow mustard seed in it and pour that onto the soil.

This method works because the snake worms don't like the mustard seed. The worms will come to the surface of the soil to escape the mustard seed and when they do, harvest your snake worms, put them in a plastic bag, keep them out on a driveway for a half hour until they perish.

Another method to try in the spring is to put clear plastic over your garden. That will kill some of the cocoons and stop the snake worms from hatching.

Q: When I was a little girl my father would have a huge garden with sprawling zucchini plants. I have been looking for that type of zucchini plant. I’ve also had trouble with the flowers not being pollinated and the young fruits rotting away. Where are those long sprawling zucchini plants that pollinate naturally? - Grace, in South Burlington

The zucchini plants you’re looking for are called tromboncinos. They are a vining zucchini plant that climbs up fences in your garden.

When they fruit, the zucchinis are big and long with a think neck and bulbous end. You can harvest and eat them when they are quite small, like summer squash, or wait till they mature like winter squash.

Find this variety online or sometimes you can scout out tromboncinos in your local garden center.

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All Things Gardening is powered by you, the listener! Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes. You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling VPR at (802) 655-9451.

Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition Sunday with VPR host Mary Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.

Have questions, comments or tips?Send us a messageor get in touch by tweeting us @vprnet.