Food historians believe shallots originated in the Mediterranean and ancient travelers transported them through Europe. These small onion-like bulbs have a sweeter, more delicate flavor than onions and are usually more expensive to buy, but as easy to grow. Similar to cooking with garlic, one shallot means one clove from the head.
How to Grow Shallots
In Colorado, shallot bulbs can be planted in either spring or fall. The bulbs are planted like garlic, but are maintained and harvested more like onions. For planting from bulbs, look for large dry-skinned shallots that are firm and plump. Each bulb will grow into an entire cluster of shallot bulbs.
- If you want to plant shallots from seed, start indoors in February and transplants should be ready for the garden by April.
- Avoid planting shallots where other alliums, like onions and garlic, have been grown in the last 3 years.
- Amend the planting bed so it’s filled with fertile, but quick-draining soil. Shallots are especially susceptible to rotting in the ground if the soil holds too much water. Just like garlic, shallots will grow larger in loser soil. If the soil is clayey or too dense, cultivate the planting area deeply and add organic matter, like compost or well-aged manure.
- When soil temperature reaches 45-55 degrees in spring, plant individual shallot bulbs, separating multiple bulbs from each other. Plant with the root end down, about 6-8 inches apart; 10-12 inches between rows. For the largest shallots, allow plenty of space between each shallot bulb. For fall planting, plant in October, at the same time as garlic.
- Shallot bulbs are planted at a shallow depth, so align the tip of each bulb even with the soil surface. Avoid mulching over the shallots after planting to keep bulbs healthy and to allow for easier sprouting.
- Water deeply and then water again when the soil dries to the first few inches. Too much water can make bulbs soft.
- Shallots grow well when there’s plenty of fertilizer and water in beds that are kept weed-free. Plants need water while growing; however, too much water (and fertilizer) makes for soft shallots that are slow to mature. If the bulbs are too soft when harvested, they won’t store well.
- Keep an eye on the shallot patch as plants are growing and prune any seed stalks that might form. Make a straight cut as close as possible to the base of the stalk.
- Wait for the bulbs to mature in late summer and the tops of the plants to yellow and fall over before harvesting shallots. Carefully dig or pull the shallots, keeping the leaves attached.
- To cure shallots for long-term storing, place them in a warm and dry location (with good air circulation) for about two weeks. Then cut the dry foliage and place the shallot bulbs in a mesh bag and store in a cool dry place. When cured and stored correctly, the shallot bulbs can be stored for six months or longer.
Plant shallots with these companions:
Materials for Success
- Soil thermometer
- High-quality compost and manure
- Shallot bulbs or seeds
- Balanced nitrogen fertilizer
- Garden fork
- Mesh bag for storing
To learn more about growing shallots or about growing your own edible vegetable garden, contact the pros at Nick’s Garden Center.