Thursday, May 8, 2014

How to Grow Cipollini Onions

Cipollini (pronounced chip-o-lee-knee) were once the province of high end restaurants and gourmet magazine. But they are becoming more common at local farmers markets. We have grown these little gems for over 10 years. We start our cipollini onions from transplants. We started planting about 3000 plants last night and will finish by the weekend (weather permitting).

Here is how we do it.



We till the soil to a depth of 8 inches and then sprinkle a good organic fertilizer where the row will be. About 5 pounds of 8-2-4 compost based fertilizer per 50 foot row. Don't use this much chemical based fertilizer because the analysis is much higher and you will burn your plants. Between the compost and the fertilizer the plants should be happy all season. I sometimes sprinkle the plants with fish emulsion (a table spoon in a gallon of water) about the end of June when they are starting to bulb. This gives them a little boost of s nutrients when the plant are stressed.

Keep well weeded and water an inch per week as onions do not compete well with weeds. This is easy with the compost weed barrier.

Cipollini means "little onion" in Italian and they range in size from 2 to 4 inches across. They have a flattened growing habit and thin skin.

We have started planting cipollinis this week.

They are very strong raw but have way more sugar than your typical storage onion, so they roast or caramelize to a sweet melt in your mouth flavor. This leaves only the sweetness and not of the strong onion flavor.

We had a customer that suggested we try roasting the smaller onions by filling the depression in the top of the onion with balsamic vinegar. They were great prepared that way.




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