Shallots are part of the Onion/Allium family; they are a smaller version of an onion with a milder and sweeter, yet tangy taste. They are easy to grow and store well.
Like onions, you can grow shallots from seed or sets but it is easier and quicker to grow from sets and they come in a few varieties - white, red and French, which are longer in shape. Seed grown shallots are slow to germinate and grow and are also more prone to bolting. Seeds, however are cheaper. Sow indoors in modular trays - sowing a few in each section and harden off before you plant them out during Spring.
There are some you can plant from late October through to mid-March; however many will be March-April and both enabling a summer harvest.
Just like garlic cloves and onion sets, shallot sets can be planted in the soil with the tip facing upwards just poking through the soil. You may wish to protect them against birds who like to lift them up! Other than that, shallots are pretty low maintenance but be mindful of common problems such as rot when they're too wet.
They will require well-drained soil and can be prone to rot if the soil is too wet; a sunny spot is ideal. Snap off flower heads that may grow and use up good energy better used in the bulb.
Being small, shallots can be dotted around other plant beds to save space, you can refer to our Companion Planting page for more information. They will require some watering during dry spells, however, be careful not to over-water them. Keep them fairly weed-free or they will soon get taken over due to their small size.
They will form in a circle of approximately 6-8 shallots, sometimes more and when the foliage starts to yellow and bend, they will be ready for harvesting.
When the shallots are lifted, they should be dried out before storing, they do keep for a long time in storage, from 9 months to over one year, so you may not need to plant as many next time around!
Shallots are a lovely addition to a casserole or roast dinner and can be pickled too.