Mary's Veggie Garden

February 7, 2011

Onions: Southport White Globe, Southport Red Globe, and Giant Zittau

Filed under: Gardening,Onions,Vegetables — marysveggiegarden @ 9:29 am

In the summer of 2010 I grew four varieties of heirloom onions, Cipollini, Southport White Globe,  Southport Red Globe and Giant Zittau.  Here is my experience with the Southport varieties and Giant Zittau.

Heirloom onions (clockwise) Southport Red Globe, Southport White Globe, Giant Zittau, Cipollini

Southport Red Globe develops into a large onion with a dark red skin. A catalog says it is “heavy yielding, with a pungent flavor” and an “outstanding keeper.” It ‘s a very pretty onion.

Southport White Globe develops a medium-size globe. A catalog says  the “Flesh is fine-grained, very firm and snowy-white with a mild pungent flavor” and it is “the best white keeper”.

Giant Zittau dates from before 1885. A catalog says “This is probably the best keeping yellow onion available. The 4-5” bulbs”  are globular with a golden-brown skin.

I’ve included Copra for comparison. Copra is a hybrid yellow onion renowned for its long storage ability.

Do these onions live up to their catalog descriptions?


Both Southport varieties grew strongly. Some of the Southport White had thick necks so I harvested those early for immediate use. Both Southport varieties stored much longer than other white and red onions I’d grown in previous years, although neither can match Copra. Giant Zittau was a disappointment. I’ve grown it twice, and both years Giant Zittau was a reluctant grower producing small to medium onions. I’ll not grow them again.

2010 Number of plants Weight of Harvest Average Size Started sprouting:
Southport Red Globe 25 8# 5.1 oz Mid-Nov
Southport White Globe 24 5.5 # 3.7 oz mid-Oct
Giant Zittau 20 unknown small ate immediately
Cippolini 20 4# 3.2 oz ate immediately
Stutgarter from sets Mid-Dec
Copra F1 About 100 3-4 oz About 12% rotting or sprouting by Feb. 1

I started all the onions from seed on 3/7/10, 30 seeds of each. I transplanted the strongest 20 –  24 plants of each variety on 4/23/10 in 4 long parallel rows 6″ apart, with onions 4″ apart in the rows. The bed was mulched with shredded leaves.

Onions 'Southport White Globe' sprouting in storage 10/29/10

The onion tops started falling over in late July and I harvested in early August. The onions were dried on open wire shelves in the garage. In late August I brushed off the loose, dry outer skins, snipped off the roots and dried tops, and put the onions in old onion bags. The bags were stored, hung from nails in the joists of our unheated basement. The temperature in the basement ranges from the mid seventies in August to the low fifties right now, in January and February. Humidity ranges from 50% (summer running a dehumidifier) to 40% in the winter.

Temperature and humidity affect storage, and these are not the optimum conditions for long onion storage, however they are typical of unheated home basements.  Optimum conditions for onion storage are a temperature close to 32 degrees F. and 65-70% humidity.

1 Comment »

  1. quite useful comparison. I was interested in ‘Giant Zittau’, but less so now, given your observations above.

    Comment by jj — February 27, 2020 @ 10:31 am | Reply

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