I love using shallots in my recipes. I prefer their mild taste to most onions and the fact that they generally store so well gets the thumbs up from me. Until last year my shallots were not the chubby specimens that I saw in the supermarket. If I was lucky they were the size of a small walnut.
I tried investing in more expensive sets, giving them more water, feeding them, putting grit in the soil and still the results were disappointing.
So last year I took a tip from Monty Don, on Gardeners World. He set his shallots in trays of compost. Perhaps this could be the answer? The method was so simple. I nipped down to Homebase and invested in a couple of bags of shallot sets the next morning. I set these in trays of multi purpose compost. It’s quite important to be very gentle at this stage so as to avoid damaging the delicate roots – make a dip in the compost and ease each shallot in and then add extra compost around each bulb. I put the trays in the Solar Tunnel and I didn’t let them dry out – just kept the compost slightly damp, checking every couple of days on their progress.
Ideally shallot sets finally go into the ground at a 20cm/8″ spacing. This gives them enough room to produce well.
They sprouted fairly quickly and although they were eventually planted out in one of our shadier borders the results were amazing. There was a decent yield from each set of chunky shallots. A few didn’t sprout and those went in the compost bin. The positive side of this was that all the shallots that I planted were producers – no irritating gaps in the rows.
So last week I spent a happy hour beside the pond setting my shallots in trays of potting compost. A few will be planted in the kitchen garden here but the majority will be going in our allotment as the soil is lighter and more free draining and alliums prefer good drainage.
Incidentally when I was writing this post I remembered that I’d bought some shallot seeds from More Veg last autumn. So I’ll start this seed off tomorrow in the tunnel. It will be interesting to see what happens to them over the summer. More Veg is a great seed selling site that offers smaller amounts of seeds at competitive prices. Ideal for the small garden or seed addicts that like to test out seeds – you can find the latter everywhere.
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