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Shallots and Leeks: The Lesser Known Onion Cousins for the Garden & Kitchen

softneck, hardneck & elephant garlic, shallots They're a big family, those alliums. From the familiar onions and softneck garlics, to the less famous but intriguing shallots, leeks, and hardneck garlics. Some gardeners even use alliums just for their flowers, like Allium giganteum with 3 foot stems and purple flower heads the size of softballs. Gardeners agree that for superior flavor in onions, garlic, shallots, and leeks there is no substitute for growing your own. They are easy crops, planted in fall and growing until mid-summer harvest. For the scoop on different kinds of garlic, and how to plant them, check out our video and articles about growing garlic. We have a great video about planting onions, shallots, and leeks. Which leads to the question:

What exactly is a shallot or a leek?


Shallots are small, paper covered bulbs that are about half the size of an onion. Their delicate flavor is described as combining a sweet onion with a hint of garlic. Specified as an ingredient in many French recipes, some of our customers grow them simply for the convenience of keeping a small version of an onion on hand, for those nights they want to use about half an onion in cooking a dish and don't want to worry about wasting the leftover onion. We have French Red organic shallots for you. Bonus: you'll be able to use shallots in cooking without breaking the bank.


Leeks look like large versions of green onions or scallions. Even milder and sweeter than shallots, their flavor makes them prized ingredients in soups like Potato Leek Soup, mmm. Or you can braise or grill them on their own as a side dish. For more information, All the Onions is an inexpensive book, rich in details on choosing, planting, growing, and harvesting shallots, leeks, garlic, and many kinds of onions.


  • Linda, if your ground freezes, you may want to wait until the spring to plant. Otherwise you can plant this fall and just make sure you mulch your shallots with about 6-8 inches of straw or another mulch to keep them from freezing.

  • I live in Deer Park,Wash 99006. Can I plant shallots in fall in this area?

    Linda Weber
  • CS, yes you should be able to grow shallots and leeks, no problem. You would plant them in the fall and let them grow over the winter. They will be ready to harvest the next summer. The leeks you may be ready to harvest some sooner, even over the late winter, but in the spring as well.

  • I am in Zone 8A, on the northeastern NC coastal plain. Will I be able to grow even small-ish shallots or leeks? BTW, your California Early White do excellently here.

    CS Shields

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