Shallots can be grown from seed, but unless you plan on growing an awful lot of them and need to save money, it is far easier growing shallots from sets.

Shallots have a mild flavour and store well. They can be used after stored onions have run out and can’t usually be found in the supermarkets so are well worth growing at home. Even small plots can normally accommodate a few shallots and they can be bought in relatively small packs compared to onions.

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Sow: February to early May.
Harvest: July to September. Approximately 18 weeks from planting.
Useful to Know: Easy to grow on most soils, plant them 6-8″ apart. A single bulb will produce 8 to 12 similar size bulbs.
Potential Problems: Shallots will bolt in hot weather. Other than this, usually trouble free.
Rotation Class: Together with onions and garlic, shallots are in the allium group. Follow on from root crops / tubers. See the crop rotation page for more information.

Varieties of Shallot

Matador is a good sized bulb.
Golden Gourmet has large bulbs, and a heavy yield. One of my favourites.
Pesandor has long bulbs that are easy to slice.
Pikant has a strong distinctive flavour but is slightly smaller in size than the others.

Growing Shallots

Shallots can be planted between February and early May but do not plant them if the ground is waterlogged or too cold, they will simply rot.

  • The ground doesn’t need much preparation. I rotavate the soil and weed carefully before raking the bed over and sprinkling a small amount of organic blood, fish and bone onto the soil.
  • Plant shallots about 6 to 8” apart.
  • Do not bury the bulb, it  should only be pushed gently into the top of the soil.
  • Some bulbs may come out as they push their roots down. Sometimes the birds will pull at them. These will need replanting.
  • During cold winters I will usually start my shallots off in a coir pot so they can start growing in the greenhouse, getting a head start.
  • Hoe between the rows as weeds take hold. If you do this on dry days, it helps to make sure the weeds don’t re-establish themselves but take care around the bulbs so that you don’t damage their roots.
  • Shallots will bolt in hot / dry weather, just like onions so make sure they are watered well during prolonged dry spells.

Harvesting

As it grows, the shallot bulb splits into 8 to 12 other bulbs and forms a ring. As the tops turn yellow and die off, the ring can be lifted, split into individual bulbs and dried out (do not split them).

Shallots will store well if kept in a cool, dark place. I store mine in a wooden box in the corner of our garage but an onion net, or an old pair of ladies tights hanging up to provide good air circulation is the normal way to store them. They usually last us for 8 months however with care, they can be stored for up to a year. Keep checking them, one rotten bulb will spread rot to other bulbs and in the spring they have a habit of sprouting in warmer weather or get to see the daylight.

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