Onions
Q.

Found an ‘onion’ type plant in son’s garden; need help ID’g it and when/if to harvest

Zone Rochester, NY | Anonymous added on October 26, 2018 | Answered

I've recently been cleaning up a flower/vegetable garden on my son's property that was initiated by the former owners. He is not a gardener; I've been gardening for about 15 years but have never grown onions, shallots or leaks. I have grown chives. After uncovering about 3 years of neglect (overgrown with giant thistles, golden rod and other large weeks) I discovered a small patch of 'onion-like' plants. Unsure of how to ID them; no site I've found so far is helpful. Should I harvest just the tops as winter is fast approaching? Will whatever is underground regenerate next spring? Should I mulch these 'volunteers'? Is there any way to tell from just the tops what species this is and therefore be able to research what the next step is? (Sorry, I am tech-challenged and cannot upload any photo on my own; no one here to help at the moment!)

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MichiganDot
Answered on October 26, 2018

Cut one and see if it smells like onion or garlic. (Do not taste unknown plants.) These may be grape hyacinths which send up almost tubular grass-like foliage in the fall. There is also a very poisonous plant with onion-like leaves, Death Camas, aka Death Lily. The bulb looks like an onion but there is no onion smell. Nodding onion is a native plant in much of the US. Wild onion and wild garlic are other possibilities. You might dig a few up to investigate further. You can always replant them. Have your son post a picture or wait to see if they flower next spring. Sounds interesting!

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