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Growing shallots

A shallot bulb growing in our root crop bed

Shallots are one of those vegetables that often gets incorrectly named. A lot of green grocers sell spring onions under the name shallots; even though they're quite different. Same onion family, just a different vegetable. Shallots are a bit of a cross on first impressions between an onion and garlic. It forms garlic-like cloves and has a mild onion taste often sought after by chefs.

We've recently harvested our first ever attempt at growing shallots. If we can successfully grow them anybody can!

Growing conditions

  • Shallots are grown at different times of the year depending on your climate. In cooler gardens plant out your shallot cloves in spring, and set them out in autumn (fall) if you've got a mild winter climate.

  • They love sunny well drained beds.

  • Try to add a little lime to the soil before planting

  • Shallots prefer soil manured last season. Otherwise use mushroom compost. Don't dig in manure or blood and bone if you're about to plant.

  • In a 4 bed rotation system shallots are grown with carrots, onions, leeks, garlic, parsnips and other root crops.

Garden care

  • Most gardeners propagate shallots from the previous season's cloves. You can also try growing it from seed.

  • Pop them into a seed raising mix, transplanting them a month or so later when green leaves start shooting, or directly sow them.

  • If growing from cloves make sure its plate points down. Try planting it about an inch deep (2-3 cms) and about two inched apart (5 cms).

  • Being from the onion family shallots generally don't have any pest problems.

Harvest time

  • Around 4 months after planting a clove, or longer by seed, your shallot leaves will start withering and go yellow-brown.

  • Harvest a couple of weeks later and try to avoid watering them.

  • Carefully lift the bulbs, leaving them in a dry place for a while (anywhere from a week to 3 weeks depending on where you hear it). Store them in a cool, dry place.


Last Updated 17 November, 2008

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