How to Grow Shallots: A Growing Guide

Preparation

Shallots are very tolerant to a wide range of soils. They can be grown in acidic soil down to 5 pH, but prefer 6.0–6.8 pH. Best to plant in fertile, well-drained soil. The looser the composition of the soil, the larger your shallots will grow.

Prepare your shallot bed by turning under or tilling in compost (be sure to use compost that is fully aerobically broken down and contains animal manures and plant residues, rather than cedar or redwood). Make sure your soil has ample phosphorus. Gophers love shallots as much as they like garlic; protect your beds with gopher wire or traps.

Planting & Growing

Harvested red shallots with stalks.

Shallots are planted from bulbs, rather than cloves like garlic. Also if you plant smaller shallots, you tend to get larger bulbs produced in the following harvest. Shallots should be spring planted in very cold areas. Separate multiple bulbs and plant each individual bulb, root end down.

Space 6–8” apart with 10–12” between rows. Plant just deep enough so that the tip lies level with the soil surface. Unlike garlic, which forms a bulb from a clove, shallots will form a cluster of 5–12 bulbs around the original bulb. This cluster will spread out more than a garlic bulb and therefore requires more space between plants.

Do not use mulch as it may rot bulbs, which are not strong enough to push through mulch. After planting shallots, water well or lightly if in heavy soils, and only water again when the soil is dry. Remember, shallots love water and food, but they must have good drainage or the bulbs will rot.

In the spring, feed the shallots with either composted manure or a well-balanced fertilizer before the bulbs begin to enlarge. Keep the bulbs well watered and weeded; they grow best with at least 1” of water per week. Remove any seed stalks that form to focus the shallots’ energy into forming bulbs.

Harvesting

Your shallots can be harvested when leaves turn brown and begin to fall over. Loosen the soil and dig up the shallot cluster. Remove soil and cure in a well ventilated shady location for about 1 month.

After cured, remove dried tops and store in a cool (50°F) dry location (away from apples and tomatoes which give off ethylene gas). Can be stored in mesh bags. Save the smaller bulbs for replanting.

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