Shallot Planting Guide
Delicate and Delicious
Shallots are in the same family as onions, chives and garlic and are the mildest of the clan. Used frequently in French cooking, shallots are delicious and ideal for family member who "don't like onions." The tops can be snipped and used like chives for flavoring, too. The key to successful shallots is good growing conditions - warm (but not hot) to moderately cold (but not bitter) winters and lightly moist (but not wet) soil.
- Find a location where the soil drains well. If there are still water puddles 5-6 hours after a rain search out another spot. Shallots strongly prefer well drained soil and will not survive in soggy soil. Mild, rainy winters can rot bulbs. If this weather is not unusual in your area, try planting bulbs in a raised ridge to promote improved drainage.
- Site your shallots where they will receive full sun. Plant after the first frost or, if your area doesn't freeze, after cold weather has set in. Vernalization, or exposure to freezing temperatures, usually results in larger and better tasting shallots.
- Dig holes and plant the bulbs 1-2” deep and 6” apart. Position the bulbs with the pointy end facing up. Roots will develop in the fall as the temperatures drop. Top growth will also form in areas where the weather is warm year round. Mulching the bed with chopped leaves, grass trimming and alfalfa grass helps moderate soil temperature swings and conserves moisture. (Mulching is not recommended in wet areas for the same reason.)
- Keep your shallots weed free by cultivating shallowly. Between rain and supplimental irrigation, provide about 1" of water per week. Keep in mind that one deep watering is better than many lighter ones as this will provide moisture down to the deepest roots.
- If your shallots develop flower stalks, snip these off to concentrate the plants' energies back into bulb production.
- When the tops of the plants die back, that's your cue that it's harvest time. Dig the shallots and use with wild abandon. Share with friends. Or carefully store in a cool, dry pantry where the flavor can mellow.
Pots, Barrels, Tubs & Urns
In the garden planting, rather than containers, is recommended for shallots.
Note: While light freezing improves shallots, severe cold will damage the bulbs. Zone 4 is usually too cold for successful shallot growing. In zones 5 and 6 a mulch of straw or chopped leaves will mitigate temperature swings, reducing the likelihood of frost heave and generally producing better results.