Experimental Homestead

Some I’itoi Onion Bulbs Available for Subscribers



I’itoi (pronounced E-E-toy) are small and prolific multiplying onions.  The story goes that they were acquired from the O’odham people in what is now Arizona and N. Mexico.  They produce a very small Shallot like bulb that can be peeled and eaten, or they can be used as greens or pulled off during the growing season for “scallions”.   They are very rare at this point and were put on the Slow Food movements Ark of Taste a list of endangered food varieties.  I tossed a bag of old dried up ones that I thought were probably dead out in the rain a month ago, and a lot of them sprouted, so I thought I’d pass on what is left to readers of this blog rather than tossing them in the compost.  These are the ones that were too shrunken to sell, though perfectly viable, and now they are just barely hanging on for dear life.  They have a small core of viable bulb left and I think that if they are potted up soon most will still grow out.  You really only need one as they are very good multipliers.  I made up small packets of about 8 bulbs and tossed in a small sample seed pocket/packet of bulgarian giant leek seeds in each.  There are about a dozen packets ready to ship, first come first serve if you pay shipping, which just $1.50 should cover.  You can paypal that to me after contacting me through the contact link on this website.  This is offered for people who are subscribed to my blog.

I'itoi peeled and whole

I don’t know much about cold hardiness of I’itoi.  They certainly do fine with light freezes, but growing them outside in really cold climates is going to be a bit of an experiment.  I’d appreciate any reports back on how they do.  These bulbs are barely hanging in there, but they are tough little guys and still have a living core waiting to find some soil and water.  Plant them immediately.  In warm climates, plant in the ground now.  In cold climates, I’d start them in a pot indoors and then plant out when warm weather arrives.  They reproduce like crazy and even if only one survives, you’ll have plenty to share, replant and eat soon enough.  I started with just a few and have sold and given away many hundreds of bulbs.

This is one cluster of I'itoi grown in about 3 or 4 months. They are very prolific.

This is one cluster of I’itoi grown in about 3 or 4 months. They are very prolific.

If left in the ground, they’ll form a dense cluster that can contain hundreds of small bulbs.  If replanted singly and well tended, they will form much larger bulbs than if left alone, but again they are still quite small.

Peeled I'itois. Good if you have the patience.

First come first serve.  Contact me through the contact link on this page.  Again, this is for people who are subscribed to my blog and they’ll probably go fast, so don’t contact me next week or next month or next year.  I’ll probably have them on ebay again this summer and I would think that they will be more widely available from seed suppliers soon.

If you have the patience, peeled I'itoi onions are nice for dishes where they are left whole, such as Risotto or in stuffing. These are frying in chicken fat.

If you have the patience, peeled I’itoi onions are nice for dishes in which they are left whole, such as Risotto or in stuffing. These are frying in yummy yellow chicken fat from one of my chickens.

A google search will turn up a little info on I’itoi onions, but there is only so much out there.  This link is a good page to check out for more info.

And This video

January 12, 2015 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,


  1. If only shipping laws allowed for plants and seeds to be shipped into Australia. As it is I will simply have to drool.
    On a side note, my brown potato onions flowered this year. Pathetic and lame looking flowers but flowers none the less. I’m hoping to save the seeds and plant them out next Autumn but… If I get seeds would you like some sent over to you (allowing your customs laws allow for that)? Send me an email if you’re interested. :) It’s the least I can do given all the information I got about growing potato onions from your blog.

    Comment by rabidlittlehippy | January 13, 2015 | Reply

  2. Thanks for the offer Rabid. That might be interesting. I’m re-evaluting where I’m at with potato onion seed trials etc. I have a lot of seedlings to plant out this year already and wondering if I should start another batch or not. We’ll talk later if you get any seeds. If there are any other onions flowering in your garden, there is a good chance they are crossed. Leeks and garlic should be okay. There are a few other onions that are also different species, but most of them, including shallots, potato onions, non-multiplying scallions and standard bulbing onions are all in the same group and cross readily as far as I know. That could be good or bad or indifferent depending on what one wanted. My potato onions have failed to set any seed at all, not even one, for two years in a row with no other pollinators present. I got a fair amount of seed though with several other varieties of bulbing onions blooming at the same time three seasons ago.

    Comment by Stevene | January 13, 2015 | Reply

    • Those are definitely different. These don’t topset like walking onion, and I’ve never seen them even think about going to flower, though the video I linked shows them flowering.

      Comment by Stevene | January 13, 2015 | Reply

  3. I am with rabid on this one…DROOL!… but my state (Tasmaina Australia) has very strict customs laws so even if I could beg a few of those precious little onions, I dare say I would be stopped at the border and chastised with great angst. Thank you for an amazing blog by the way. I just recently started following and haven’t had time to comment till now. Thank you for your generosity in sharing what you are learning, the good and the bad as it’s all valuable stuff.

    Comment by narf77 | January 13, 2015 | Reply

  4. RE: We have lift-off:
    /Users/wilfredjr/Pictures/iPhoto Library/Modified/2015/Feb 10, 2015/IMG_6338.JPG
    Hope this picture comes through
    Six of eight did germinate, and Jill still has hope for the remainder
    Now we must set up the lights downstairs to keep them going a few months. It’s zero out!
    We are indeed winners
    Thanks my friend,

    Comment by wilfredjr | February 12, 2015 | Reply

    • Good news. I heard back from one other person that said they sprouted roots almost overnight. Your photo link is dead, but we believe you! If it gets to zero there, I’m sure they won’t survive the winter. I actually had few die this year when an unusually warm early winter (tomatoe plants growing in the yard till 2 days before christmas), was followed by a hard freeze. First time I’ve seen them really damaged by cold. You’ll probably be growing them over the summer and storing some dormant bulbs till spring I suspect. You should have plenty to experiment with at the end of the summer. Those things reproduce like rabbits.

      Comment by Stevene | February 12, 2015 | Reply

  5. Thanks for the post on I’itoi onions. The farm in the video is right here in Phoenix. I now own some of those onions myself and they will soon be growing all over my yard.

    Comment by curtis | March 18, 2015 | Reply

    • You’re welcome. Pass them on if you can find anyone interested.

      Comment by Stevene | March 18, 2015 | Reply

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