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How to Grow Shallots

Grow shallotsShallots are a cool-weather vegetable usually grown from cloves, not seeds. Set cloves in the garden as early as 4 to 6 weeks before the average last frost date in spring. Shallots require a dormant period of about 30 days soon after planting with temperatures between 32° and 50°F (0-10°C). Shallots will grow in soil temperatures ranging from 35°F to 90°F (2-32°C).

Description. The shallot is a member of the onion family, a very hardy biennial grown as an annual. Shallots grow to about 8 inches (20cm) tall in a clump with narrow green leaves and roots that look like small onions, about ½ inch (12mm) in diameter at maturity. Shallots are more delicately flavored than regular onions. Young outer leaves can be used like chives.

Yield. Plant 4 to 6 shallots per household member.

Planting shallotsPlanting Shallots

Site. Grow shallots in full sun; shallots will tolerate partial sun. Plant shallots in well-worked, well-drained, moisture-retentive soil rich in organic matter. Shallots prefer a soil pH of 5.0 to 6.8. Shallots will be less flavorful if grown in clay soil.

Planting time. Shallots are usually grown from cloves, not seeds. Set cloves in the garden as early as 4 to 6 weeks before the average last frost date in spring. Shallots require a dormant period of about 30 days soon after planting with temperatures between 32° and 50°F (0-10°C). Shallots will grow in soil temperatures ranging from 35°F to 90°F (2-32°C). Shallots are ready for harvest in 60 to 120 days.

Planting and spacing. Set shallot cloves broad end down and cover with ½ inch (12mm) of soil or less. Space cloves 6 to 8 inches (15-20cm) apart in rows 12 inches (30cm) part. Shallot bulbs contain 3 to 4 cloves protected by a brown papery skin. Plant individual cloves.

Companion plants. Beets, lettuce, strawberries, summer savory, tomatoes. Do not plant shallots with beans or peas.

Container growing. Shallots can be grown in an 8-inch (20cm) pot, plant 2 or 3 cloves in the pot. If the weather warms, move containers to a cool spot.

Clumps of shallots
Shallots clumps can be divided into multiple plants every year or two.

Caring for Shallots

Water and feeding. Keep shallots evenly moist; do not allow the soil to dry out. Add aged compost to planting beds before planting. Side dress shallots with aged compost at midseason.

Care. Keep planting beds weed-free so that shallots do not compete for water and nutrients. Bend or “lodge” the stalks when they are 16 inches (40cm) tall or more; this will force shallots to mature in 3 to 4 weeks. Shallots clumps can be divided into multiple plants every year or two. Do not plant shallots where garlic bulbs have previously grown.

Pests. Shallots have no serious pest problems.

Diseases. Where the soil is well-drained, shallots generally have no serious disease problems. White rot can affect shallots along with other alliums. White rot is characterized by white growth on the leaves at the neck of the plant. It can not be cured. Remove and destroy shallots infected with white rot and do not plant onion-family crops in the same sport for at least 5 years.

shallots stored in dry place
Store shallot bulbs in a cold, dry place for up to 6 months.

Harvest and Storing Shallots

Harvest. Green shallot leaves can be cut throughout the growing season and used as a seasoning. Be careful not to cut away any new growth coming from the central stem. Bulbs are ready for harvest when leaves yellow, wither, and fall over. Allow harvested bulbs to dry for a month.

Storing and preserving. Store shallot bulbs like onions in a cold, dry place for up to 6 months. Freeze or dry shallots like onions. Shallot greens will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week. Greens can be chopped and frozen like chives.

Shallot Varieties to Grow

Varieties. ‘Atlantic’ (90 days); ‘Atlas’ (90 days); ‘Dutch Yellow’ (90 days); ‘French Shallots’ (90 days); ‘Frog Leg Shallots’ (90 days); ‘Giant Red’ (70 days); ‘Golden Gourmet’ (77 days); ‘Grey Shallot’ (90 days); ‘Odetta’s White Shallot’ (90 days); ‘Pink Shallots’ (90 days); ‘Success’ (90 days).

Common name. Shallot

Botanical name. Allium cepa

Origin. Asia

Grow 80 vegetables: KITCHEN GARDEN GROWERS’ GUIDE

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17 Comments

  1. Hey ! What is this about not growing from seed ? ! You really must have a go at growing the Zebrune banana shallot from seed . You get one huge shallot from each seed sown . Brilliant !

  2. Please explain…Why can’t plant shallots in area where garlic was previously grown? For how many years is the soil bad? It would seem that these two allums would be companion plants. What about planting green onions with garlic?

    • It is best to not plant shallots or onions where garlic has grown–or vice versa–if the previous crop has suffered from pests or diseases and if you are NOT feeding the soil on a regular basis (that is adding plenty of aged compost at least once or twice a year); if there has been no pests or disease and you are feeding the soil, then you can plant these crops year after year in or near the same spot. Rotation and companion planting schedules and suggestions aim to protect plants in the same botanical family from attack by pests and diseases that attack crops in that family, and, as well, rotation and companion planting aims to protect the soil from over-growing crops that use the same nutrients from the soil. Long story short, if you are feeding the soil and your garden has not experienced pests or diseases specific to a crop family then plant in succession until you have a problem. Check out some of the articles here on crop rotation and companion planting.

    • Shallots have purple flesh, brown papery skins, and a garlicky flavor. Green onions (also called scallions) are young onions with small white bulbs and edible leaves.

  3. I have shallots that I grew from seed to transplant in the garden. I am a zone 3B. Is end of May okay to transplant and can I trim the greens before they go in the garden? They are very long right now. Why do you say not to plant from seeds ?

    • Yes, you can trim the leaves by about a quarter or one-third of the leaf length. If nights are still chilly, protect the seedlings by placing a row cover over the transplanted seedlings. If the soil temperature averages 50F, you can safely sow seeds in the garden. Starting seed indoors protects young seedlings from cold stress.

    • If you want the bulbs to reach their full size, you will need to separate them. If you want to harvest just the green tops, they can grow in a clump.

  4. I grow shallots and garlic in the same raised bed, year after year. But, as you say, the bed is almost all aged cow manure compost. We plant both shallots and garlic in the fall around Halloween cover entire bed with about six inches of leaves and lay chicken wire on top to hold in place. Everything starts coming up in the early spring and we start harvesting in late summer. We are in zone 7, about 2,000 ft.

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