Pic from secret-garden-club.blogspot.ca
What are shallots?
Shallots are mild, sweet onions that grow in clumps, like multiplier onions do.
They can be eaten raw or cooked. The bulbs are great to use in all cooking as they are so delicate in flavour and so do not over-whelm the other ingredients.
The shallot greens can also be used much in the same way as you would use spring onions, harvested to use in salads or soups or omelets, etc...
Shallots are easy! You can grow them! They are undemanding and so worth your while to grow! Delicious!
Shallot bulbs/sets ready for planting.
Sorry, I had been painting earlier ...
and did not want to run back into the house to wash up before taking the picture.
Hah, yes, such a classy chick am I ; )
When to plant ...
In fall, at the same time as you plant your garlic ... OR in spring, as early as you can, so that they grow! Shallots need cool ground for 3 or 4 weeks in order to form bulbs.
You can also plant your garlic in spring, if you ran out of time in fall.
How to plant ...
Plant into soil that is rich and well-draining.
Loosen up your soil so that it is loose, crumbly, and friable. Shallots and onions have very shallow roots systems so will not thrive in heavy, compacted soil.
Push the shallot bulb into the ground so that the very, very tip of it is just showing above ground, or so it is right at soil level. Plant them about 6 inches apart so that they have room to grow and multiply.
Rows should be about 10 to 12 inches apart. Or plant them like I plant my garlic and stagger the rows so that they are about 7 inches apart from each other on all sides.
How to grow ...
Do not over water or the bulbs will rot. Keep them on the dry side, watering only when really dry. Here on the west coast we get no summer rains so I would water about every 1.5 to 2 weeks.
Do not fertilise, just have good soil and they will thrive.
Keep the bed weeded as they have such shallow roots that they are unable to compete with weeds for water and nutrients.
If fall planted, pull soil up to the bulbs so that just the tops are showing till spring.
How and when to harvest ...
The greens can be harvested as needed, while they grow, starting about 30 days after planting.
The young bulbs can be harvested at any time from the garden for your cooking, salads, etc...
The mature bulbs can be harvested when the tops begin to brown off and fall over. The bulbs are usually mostly on top of the ground at this time and the skins tend to be golden in colour, papery. This is about 90 days after planting.
Lift gently with a garden fork, shake off the soil. Do not wash with water unless you intend to use it right away.
How to cure ...
To dry and cure for storage, treat them much as you would treat garlic.
It does not really matter if you leave them in clumps or separate in order to dry and cure. I tend to separate mine now.
Place in an area with good air flow, in a shaded area, not in direct sunlight. I use my carport or open ended potting shed for this purpose, laid out on long tables. They get great air flow yet shade, too.
They can be cured by laying out on tables or mesh, in open crates, etc.. well spaced. The main thing is that they have good air flow.
After two or three weeks of curing, cut off the dried up tops and the dry roots to clean the shallots up for storage.
They can also be braided and hung to dry for two to three weeks... or till needed ; ) Roots can be cut off at the time of braiding, if you want.
Here's a yummy pickled shallot recipe from the local kitchen blog.