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October 2, 2010 / Malcolm Dalebö

Growing French Shallots

  • French shallots are a culinary onion with a superb mild flavour. 
  • They can be eaten raw, boiled, pickled, baked, or fried. 
  • Shallots are long keeping and will store for up to 12 months.
  • If you have showing in mind, it’s better to thin out the clusters leaving just three on each parent bulb, these will grow larger and be more evenly shaped.

How to grow French Shallots – Crop Rotation

  • Shallots are susceptible to bacterial diseases, pink root, white rot, downy mildew, purple blotch, onion maggot and thrips. 
  • To avoid or minimize these problems, do not plant shallots in the same soil where other members of the Onion Family have been grown in at least the last three years
  • How to grow French Shallots – Site and Soil
  • Plant in a sunny, well-drained position. 
  • For a good crop, shallots require a rich, loam soil. 
  • Check the pH and add lime to correct acidity. 
  • The pH should be at least 6.5. 

How to grow French Shallots – Soil Preparation

  • Soil is best prepared a few months before planting. 
  • Avoid using manure, as too high a nitrogen content will reduce the keeping quality of the shallots. 

How to grow French Shallots – Planting out Sets

  • Traditionally in England French shallots are planted on the shortest day and harvested on the longest. 
  • In subtropical areas March – April is a better planting time. 
  • In cooler areas the recommended planting time is late winter or early spring. 
  • Separate multiple bulbs and plant each individual bulb, root end down. 
  • Do not plant the bulbs too deeply, push them into the soil roots side down, so the tops are still visible. 
  • Space the bulbs 15-20 cm (6-8″) apart and space rows 30cm (1 foot) apart.
  • Shallots will form a cluster of 5-12 bulbs around the original bulb. 
  • This cluster will spread out more than a garlic bulb and therefore requires more space between plants. 

How to grow French Shallots – Care & Cultivation

  • Do not use mulch as it may rot bulbs, which are not strong enough to push through mulch. 
  • After planting shallots, water well or lightly in heavy soils, and only water again when the soil is dry. 
  • Remember, shallots love water and food, but they must have good drainage or the bulbs will rot. 
  • In the spring, feed the shallots with either composted manure or a well-balanced fertilizer before the bulbs begin to enlarge. 
  • Keep the bulbs well watered and weeded; they grow best with at least 1″ of water per week. 
  • Remove any seed stalks that form to focus the shallots’ energy into forming bulbs. 
  • Shallots should be spring planted in very cold areas. 

How to grow French Shallots – Harvesting

  • Harvest the shallots when the tops are drying. 
  • You can tell the bulbs are mature when the tops yellow and die (most plants can be harvested after 3 months).
  • Pull up the clusters and cure in a warm but shady place with ventilation. 
  • Regardless of what you read elsewhere, do not leave your shallots in the sun to cure, because they might sunburn and rot. 

How to grow French Shallots – Storage

  • Store your shallots in mesh bags (like onion sacks) in a cool dry area.
  • You should let the bulbs dry for about a month. 
  • They can be stored for up to 12 months if kept at their optimum storage temperature of 35°-45°F.
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