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Planting & Growing Shallots

Soil Preparation

Shallots are very tolerant and can be grown in acidic soil down to 5 pH, but prefer 6.0-6.8 pH. 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 baskets.

Planting & Growing

  • Shallots are planted from bulbs, rather than cloves like garlic. Shallots should be spring planted in very cold areas or in the fall in milder winter zones.
  • 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 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 Shallots

Shallots will be ready to lift when the tops fall over, similar to onions. Dig with a garden fork or a trowel, keeping far enough away from the cluster to not damage any of the bulbs. Cure the bulbs as you would onions, in a cool dry place away from sun. In a couple of weeks they should be dry enough that the roots and the tops can be trimmed back. Don't break apart the cluster of bulbs until you are ready to eat. Reserve a small amount of small bulbs to replant in the fall.

13 comments

  • Maria, shallots do tend to bolt or put out flower stalks. Especially when the weather changes dramatically from cold to warm. It signals the plant to start making the flowers. Just clip them off, not much more that you can do.

    Suzanne at GrowOrganic.com
  • My shallots are bolting, this is my first year growing them, I found an article that advice to cut the flower stalks, let’s see what happen, I can say I followed the instructions step by step, they are in the same raised bed with my garlic and my garlic looks beautiful.

    Maria
  • Hugh, shallots can be planted in the fall in your zone, but it should go in about 4-6 weeks before the first frost. You want to plant it so the roots get established before the frost. If you are late in planting, I would suggest a very thick layer of mulch to keep it protected. The mulch can be pulled back in the spring when temperatures warm.

    Suzanne at GrowOrganic.com
  • Very cold areas is relative as in “Shallots should be spring planted in very cold areas.” I am in Zone 6B. Should I wait for spring or plant the shallots I bought from you now? Thanks.

    Hugh
  • Mary, the shallots will not look like much until the summer. They will start to bulb up in June or July. You know they are done when the tops dry up.

    Suzanne at GrowOrganic.com
  • My daughter and I each planted garlic and shallots from PVFS in October in two different raised bed gardens. The shallots grew like crazy but look like leeks with large stems instead of bulbs.

    I harvested one and used it like a leek. It was tasty….but we were hoping for shallots. any ideas what to do next time?

    Mary
  • Elizabeth, since your shallots were so small, it sounds like a nutritional deficiency. They should be ok growing in a large pot, but plants grown in pots tend to need more frequent feedings than if you planted in the ground. I would try them again and just be more diligent about feeding often and give them a fertilizer with more phosphorus. I like using the Rose & Flower mix. You can also give them bone meal. Save your small shallots and replant them this fall.

    Suzanne at GrowOrganic.com
  • Elizabeth, most areas can plant shallots in the fall. The shallots should be planted just deep enough so the little tag of the top just shows. If you watch our video on planting and growing garlic and shallots, Tricia demonstrates how to plant them. Here is the link for the video, https://www.groworganic.com/organic-gardening/videos/growing-onions-leeks-and-shallots.

    Suzanne at GrowOrganic.com
  • Oop’s, I forgot to add, I planted them this spring. Should I have planted them in the fall, instead?
    How deep should I have planted the seed shallots, which were at least twice the size of what i harvested?
    Thanks again!
    Liz Juvet

    Elizabeth Juvet
  • I’m reading all about shallots flowering, but mine never bloomed & the stalks died & dried up, without any regrowth.
    I harvested them a couple of days ago, & they were all very small, not even 2" at best, but mostly under 1".
    What did I do wrong? I had planted them in a wine barrel with good soil, lots of homegrown compost, worm castings & a small amount of chicken manure (aged & commercially purchased), & this is what I got.
    My land is low, & last winter flooded, growing algae in the muck. I’ve never tried to grow shallots before, so am dismayed by the lack of yield.
    Any & all help will be greatly appreciated!
    Thank you!
    Liz Juvet

    Elizabeth Juvet
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