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Growing Organic Shallots

Posted March 10, 2021

Shallots are very closely related to onions, but they have smaller bulbs with a delicate mild flavor. They usually taste sweeter than onions and the leaves can be used as a substitute for chives in a range of dishes. Shallots will grow clusters of bulbs instead of the single bulb that we are used to with onions. They vary in color, size and shape. Some are torpedo-shaped, whereas others are rounded, with colors varying from light brown to red.  

You can find shallots in seeds or bulbs. There are more choices when you plant by seed. Shallots thrive in a light soil and a sunny location. Plant in ground that has been amended well with compost. Do not plant in freshly manured soil as this will cause bulbs and seeds to rot.  

Planting can begin in early winter in mild areas that have a well-drained soil, but, in general, shallot sets are best planted out in late winter or early spring. Plant sets individually, using a bobber or trowel, in rows 5-6 inches apart. The tip of the set should be just showing above the surface of the soil.  

Seeds should be sown in March - April. Sow seeds approximately 3 inches apart, cover lightly and keep evenly moist.  We use a seed cover to help keep moister in during the germination period. Always use fresh seeds! 

After planting look out for any sets that may have been lifted by the frost and push back into the soil. Keep weeds out during the growing season and water the crop during dry spells.

Once shallots are 2-3 inches tall spray with a diluted liquid kelp. This helps them grow healthier and we have found it to help with their longevity after harvest.  

Lift the bulbs in mid-summer, when the leaves have turned yellow, and separate the clusters. Leave the shallot bulbs to dry out on a rack of wire netting in a sheltered location. They will be ready to store when the leaves have shriveled.  Remove the dead leaves and any dirt on the bulbs. Store the shallots in a cool dry place on trays or in netting bags.  

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