Shallots are a member of the onion family and require a long growing season but are a valuable addition to a kitchen garden and can be grown alongside faster growing crops to make the optimum use of space. They can be used in a number of different recipes.

Growing shallots:

Shallots are relatively easy to grow and will do well in any sunny spot in soil that is fertile and drains well. They can be started from seed but most gardeners will choose to grow them from sets, which should be planted between November and March.

Sets are a better and far easier choice for most gardeners as they mature more quickly, do better in colder weather and are more resistant to a number of pests and diseases. Seeds are not usually worth the bother for the home gardener and do not, when all is said and done, make much of a financial saving either.

It is a good idea to add some good, organic garden compost to your planting site before you plant out the sets, to ensure good soil health and fertility. Sets should be placed in the soil with the tip just showing above the ground. As a rough guideline, you should leave around 25cm between sets and about 40cm between each row.

It is sometimes the case that birds lifting sets can become a problem and the best way to combat this is simply to cover your crop with horticultural fleece.

Weeds can be a problem with shallots, as with other alliums. Be sure to do some casual weeding when weeds appear and use a good organic mulch to keep the competition from weeds to a minimum.

You should not need to water your shallots except when the weather is dry for a slightly longer period. Remove any flower spikes as soon as these appear and then when foliage starts to yellow in around July you can harvest your shallots with the aid of a garden fork. Unlike onions, each set will give you a cluster of shallot bulbs, which can then be dried for storage if need be.

Why grow shallots in the garden?

Shallots can be useful not only in the kitchen in a number of dishes and preserves but also in the garden. Like all alliums they are a useful companion plant for many other vegetables and other plants. They repel or distract a number of common insects and their smell is a deterrent to a number of little creatures.

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Allium cepa var. aggregatum