Guide to Growing Shallots
Guide to Growing Shallots
Shallots – Allium cepa ascalonicum
Easy to cultivate requiring the same conditions as, shallots grow in a wide variety of soils although they do not like heavy clay. Avoid freshly manured land, but well rotted or manure dug in during the autumn is beneficial, particularly where exhibition bulbs are required. Fish manure 2 to 3oz to the square metre is helpful.
Shallots can be raised from seed, but the plants are liable to bolt. Small bulbs are planted from early spring onwards. At one time gardeners reckoned to plant shallots on the shortest day and harvest them on the longest. This is neither necessary or practical on account of bad weather towards the end of the year.
The should be nicely firm at planting time. Take off loose skins and dead tops from the bulbs and press them into the soil to about half their depth. Space them 12 to 15cm apart with 30cm between rows. Slugs or birds sometimes pull the bulbs partially out of the soil and extra strong roots sometimes force them up. Inspect the roots from time to time so that loose bulbs can be pushed back into position again. Do not damage the plants when cleaning the ground.
Once the leaves turn yellow in summer, draw the soil away from the bulbs to encourage ripening. The lift and dry thoroughly before storing in a cool, dry, airy place. The red or common shallot is the most widely grown, although some gardeners like the yellow variety. Some suppliers now offer Giant Long Keeping Red and Giant Long Keeping Yellow in virus-free strains.
Classes for shallots at shows are usually closely contested. One of the most widely used varieties is Hative de Niort. This yields really good shaped specimens, especially if the following culture is given. An exhibition variety is Aristocrat which is resistant to neck rot.
The site should be prepared early, burying well rotted manure or compost one spit deep. Into the top spit, work bone meal, hoof and horn meal and bonfire ash if possible, in the ratio of three two and five.
Leave the surface soil rough, and early in the year excepting in limey soil, dust the surface with hydrated lime 4oz to the square metre.
Plant really sound, well-shaped, medium » sized bulbs at least 25 mm in diameter. Some specialists sprout the bulbs before planting by setting them upright in boxes of compost in the greenhouse. Plant shallowly with a trowel 30cm apart with 38cm between rows. If the rows can be covered with cloches this will ensure a quick start and prevent bird damage.
Once top growth is advancing, a few feeds of liquid manure and soot will be helpful but avoid overfeeding or the bulbs will become thick necked and will not keep. When the foliage has turned yellow lift the bulbs with a fork and leave them to dry off under glass for a couple of days. Then clean them and place them upright in a shallow box of sand turning them occasionally so they ripen off and become an even colour. Tie down the necks and for showing, select well shaped, weighty specimens five or six to the pound.