Homeschool Garden Club – Shallots

I really like growing shallots as they are quite easy – just pop in the ground and let them get on with it. They are also useful int he kitchen. I forgot to note down the variety I grow last year, which is a shame because they were highly successful and I am only now using the last of the shallots up.

This year, I am giving a French Shallot called ‘Mikor’ a try. I would love to try some different ones if anyone would like to swoop a few with me.

Shallots have a great flavour that can be used for cooking or pickling. You can put some side for Boxing Day and serve them alongside with the chutneys and pickles with the cold meats and cheese. There are many tempting varieties with bulbs in many shapes and sizes. Plants can be grown in any well-drained, fertile soil in a sunny position. They need a long growing period but can be inter planted with faster-growing crops.


Varieties recommended by the Homeschool Garden Club


As we tend to grow for the kitchen, nobody has grown shallots for competition yet, we are only recommending ones we liked cooking and eating.


'Longor' Shallot: Highly prized for its robust flavour and good storage potential. Each shallot yields 6 to 8 bulbs at harvest. Elongated banana type variety.


'Matador' Shallot: A high yielding variety with reddish brown bulbs. Has a very high dry matter content so has good storing capability.


'Meloine' Shallot: Round bulb shape with reddish brown skins. Forms a clump of up to 8 bulbs per root. Harvested in August from a Spring planting and will store for several months. This variety has some downy mildew resistance.


Sow/plant


Now is the time to sow as sets. Shallots can be started from seed or more usually from sets (immature bulbs). Most gardeners prefer to start from sets as they are quicker to mature, are better in colder regions, less likely to be attacked by some pests and diseases and need less skill to grow than seed.

  • Add up to two buckets of organic matter such as manure or garden compost before planting and take in a moderate dressing of any general-purpose fertiliser.

  • You can plant them through black weed supressing membrane to avoid the need to weed.

  • Birds can be a problem lifting the sets. Check the shallots every few days and replant and re-plant any that have been disturbed by birds. Alternatively, covering with fleece will prevent this.

  • Plant shallot sets 25cm apart in rows 40cm apart from mid-November to mid-March. Gently push them into soft, well-worked soil so that the tip is just showing and firm the soil around them.


Grow


Water if the weather is dry and remove any flower spikes as soon as they are seen.


Harvest

In late summer / early autumn, the leaves will will begin to die down. this means they are about ready for harvest. Bend the leaves over and then a few days later ease the shallots out of the soil. After a few more days, left clear of the soil and leave on the surface to ripen. When dry, rub off loose skins and roots. Store in a cool dry, frost-free place in trays.


Common Problems


Onion White Rot: A soil-borne fungus that can cause yellowing and wilting of the foliage above ground, while rotting the roots and invading the bulb beneath the soil. A white fluffy fungus appears on the base of the bulb and later becomes covered in small, round black structures.


Remedy


There is no chemical cure for onion white rot when it is the soil. It is important to avoid introduction to previously clean sites. It is transported in contaminated soil, for example on tools or on muddy footwear. Take particular care in areas where cross contamination can occur easily, for example on allotments.


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