Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Shallots - "Longor"

I have grown shallots only once before, many years ago, and they didn't do well. I think this is because I planted them too close together and because the soil was poor in those days (I have progressively built up the soil structure and fertility in my garden during the 21 years we have lived here). This year I felt ready for another try, inspired mainly by the fact that these days we use a lot more shallots in our cooking.

I bought a 500g bag of sets (seed shallots) from Thompson and Morgan. They were the variety "Longor", smallish in size but elongated in shape. There were 18 sets in the bag.

"Longor" - some of the original sets
I planted 12 of them in one of my raised beds, on 2nd March, at a spacing of approximately 12" x 12".

Shallots at left, Garlic at right

I also planted three in a 10" pot, just as an "insurance policy".

Apart from the occasional bit of weeding, the shallots needed no maintenance at all. By late June even though the foliage had flopped over it was still fairly green, and the bulbs were still small, so I didn't consider them ready for harvesting.

Four weeks later though, the bulbs had swollen some more, and the foliage was beginning to turn yellow. I decided to harvest the ones in the pot first, (since they would be easier) to see what the yield was like.

Up-ending the pot carefully onto an ex-Army groundsheet, I extracted the three plants, each of them by now a cluster of six or seven shallots.

I was quite pleased with these. They looked clean and healthy, and seemed to be a very similar size to their parents.

I have rigged up a makeshift drying-frame in the garage, using a wire shelf from one of the mini greenhouses, balanced between two small plastic tables. It certainly wouldn't be a good idea to try drying the shallots outdoors in current weather conditions - and I have read that it is best to dry them out of direct sunlight anyway.

In the photo above you can see that I have posed the recently-harvested shallots alongside the three sets left over from the original bag, just to demonstrate that they are pretty much the same size.

Encouraged by the yield from that one pot, I decided also to harvest some of the ones growing in the raised bed. Selecting carefully the biggest ones, I dug up 6 of the 12 clusters.

These have joined the others on the drying-frame:

Should I separate the clusters into individual shallots now, do you think, or leave them as they are until they are dry?

I'm thinking ahead now and wondering if I might perhaps make some pickled shallots in a week or two...


  1. how lovely. I had no idea they grew in clusters like that...how neat!

  2. Ours will be ready to harvest soon as the foliage is dying back. I think ours easily come apart when harvesting. I'd give it a couple of days to allow the foliage to dry off a bit ( we usually harvest when the foliage is already fairly dry) and then separate them so air can circulate all around the bulbs.

  3. I've no idea how to grow shallots but yours look very good!

  4. These really do look great. You got quite a good harvest from these. Maybe I will try shallots next year instead of onions!

    1. Becky; shallots produce a smaller yield than onions, and they have a more delicate flavour. I think they cannot be seen as a substitute for onions though. They don't provide the bulk - and we use LOTS of onions!

  5. What a treat. These look amazing. I'd be proud. A.

  6. Oh but shallots are yummier than onions don't you think. They're good if you've got kids because they're not so full on. My kids won't eat onion unless it's disguised but they'll eat a bit of shallot. I have toyed with the idea of growing them and now that I've seen yours I might have a go. I didn't know they grew in bunches like that either.

  7. It's fascinating how one set produces a cluster of shallots, I must check on mine to see if they're nearly ready for harvesting, they'll have to wait until after our holidays now though. I usually pull mine apart as soon as they're lifted.

  8. Those look real nice Mark. Once all the greens had withered on mine, I broke the bulbs apart. Got a little more than a kilo from 25 bulbs. Pickling sounds good!

  9. Shallots transform a casserole, used whole (i.e. just top & tail these small bulbs).

    I suggest replanting the best of your bulbs in autumn - as one would with garlic cloves - so that each year the quality yield improves through selection of those which have thrived in the your soil & climate.

  10. Do you plant the shallots inside in a pot or, outside? Do they need sun or shade? How much water do they need? If anyone knows, I would appreciate your input.


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