Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Harvesting shallots

Last Autumn when I took over my new plot I was able to rescue some shallot bulbs. They didn't look like prize specimens because they had been lying on wet soil for far too long.

I selected 45 of them that looked as if they might be viable, and planted them in modules, on the 19th February.

I hadn't expected them all to sprout, but they did - every single one!

I planted them up at the plot as soon as I thought they were big enough. Since they developed at different rates, the planting was done successively. In the past I had tried growing shallots in my own home garden, but they never did particularly well. I think the key to success (apart from frequent watering in conditions like the present ones) is to give them plenty of space and full sunlight for as much of the day as possible. I planted these ones about 8 inches apart.

Well, cutting a long story short, they grew. And so did the weeds. In fact, keeping the weeds in check was the hardest (certainly the most labour-intensive) part of growing these shallots.

Still, I think the hard work paid off.

By the end of June the leaves had mostly flopped over and begun to go brown. I judged the shallots to be mature.

On July 6th I harvested most of the crop. Some of those at one end of the row had been shaded by the fence and the Blackcurrant bushes, and they were not as far advanced as the others, so there will be another small batch to harvest in a couple of weeks' time.

This is what came home with me:

They are now spread out on my trusty groundsheet to dry in the sun. With current levels of temperature and sunshine, it shouldn't take long.

My plan for these is to make the smaller ones into Pickled Shallots using spiced malt vinegar, and to use the bigger ones fresh in the kitchen. We use quite a lot of shallots and it will be especially nice to have homegrown ones available. Oh, and I will keep some of the best ones to use as next year's sets, in order to maintain the continuity of cultivation.

P.S. A friend on Twitter has helped me to identify that weed that I mentioned a couple of days ago. It's Galinsoga parviflora - known colloquially as Gallant Soldiers. No wonder it's fighting back at me!

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