A milder and sweeter alternative to onions, shallots are just as easy to grow and are available as sets or seeds.
Growing Shallots from Sets
Choose a sunny position and a well-drained soil that was manured for the previous crop.
Plant shallot sets 25cm (10″) apart in rows 40cm (16″) apart from mid-November to mid-March (dependant on variety). Gently push them into soft, well-worked soil so that the tip is just showing and firm the soil around them.
Water if the weather is dry and remove any flower spikes as soon as they are seen. This will allow your shallots to put all their energy into producing a bumper crop of bulbs.
Your shallots will be ready to harvest when the foliage starts to turn yellow in July. Lift the bulb clusters with a hand fork, separate them and allow them to dry in the sun or somewhere dry if it is wet outside. Shallots can be kept for long term storage for up to a year (variety dependent) if kept in a cool dry place.
For Smaller Spaces
Your shallots will grow perfectly happily in a window box or a container on a sunny patio. Plant one bulb to a 15cm (6″) pot and keep the compost moist until the leaves start to yellow, then just let them dry out ready to harvest.
Growing Shallots from Seed
Shallots grown from seed will only produce a single bulb. On rare occasions two bulbs may be produced.
Choose a sunny position where the soil is well drained. Dig the area in the autumn incorporating well rotted manure or garden compost. Approximately seven days prior to planting or sowing apply a vegetable fertilizer.
For early crops sow the Shallot seed during February and March in greenhouse or indoors at a temperature of 15-20ºC (60-68ºF). Grow on the resulting seedling in trays, planting outdoors during May and June. Space the plants 7.5cm (3″) apart in the row and 30cm (12″) between rows.
Sow the seed direct outdoors between March and May. Sow the seed in to finely raked, firmed soil at a depth of 1cm (½″).
Harvest and dry the bulbs once the foliage has turned yellow.