Shallots - allium ascalonicum when cooked, have a delicate sweet mild taste compared to the sharper more acid taste of onions.

Like onions they can be easily grown from seeds or sets.

However, unlike onions which produce one large bulb, shallots produce 6-12 small bulbs.

Shallots - allium ascalonicum

Growing shallots from sets instead of seeds is the speedier option.

They should be grown in an area that gets six to eight hours of continuous sunlight.

The growing area should be prepared with the addition of well rotted manure/compost well in advance of planting out.

Just prior to planting rake in a top dressing of a balanced general fertiliser.


Week 6:

Sow seed in a tray of evenly firmed soil-less seed compost.

Sow the seed thinly, or singly onto the seed compost, and cover them 5mm (3/16”) deep with similar compost, then lightly water them in,taking care not wash out the seeds.

On completion, cover the tray with a sheet of glass and paper.

Alternatively, Use cell trays and sow one or two seeds in each cell.

Germinate at a minimum temperature of 16°C (60°F)

Example using Cell tray

Week 7-8:

As soon as they have germinated,take covers off and allow plenty light to the seedlings.

Grow on in Greenhouse at the same temperature, ventilate as much as possible (depending upon the weather) and position them to get maximum light at all times.

Week 8-9:

As soon as the seedlings reach the crook stage, and the second leaf appears, prick them out into 70mm (3”) pots of any proprietary soil-less potting compost.

Grow on, giving them plenty of light, but being careful not to force them with too much heat, and too much water, 8°-10°C (45°-50°F) will do.

Crook Stage

Watering will depend upon the weather, so always allow them to dry out between each watering.

It is advisable to spray seedlings, from the second leaf stage with a fungicide at regular intervals to deter damping off.

Week 10

As an alternative to sowing seeds one can pot up sets to speed up the growing process at this time of the year.

Sets can be set up in cells or 3" pots and grown on in a cold frame until such times as it is possible to plant outdoors.

Sets Growing on
Seedlings Growing on

Week 13:

Gradually harden off seedlings prior to planting out.

Week 14:

Select a site that has not been freshly manured in an open sunny position, where the soil is firm, fertile and well drained, and has a pH of 6.5.

Work in a light dressing of general fertiliser before planting.

Push the setts into the ground 200mm (8") apart, in rows 300-400mm (12"-16") apart leaving only the tips showing.

If the ground is hard, make a drill and place the bulbs into it, pulling the soil back over the setts but leaving the tip exposed.

Thoroughly water in the shallots after planting to settle them in.

Keep your eye on the bulbs in the early stages, birds will pull them up.

If this happens, replant them immediately.

Use netting or fleece to protect them if birds are a real problem.

Week 18>:

Weed carefully and often, but take care not to disturb, damage or bury the bulbs.

Pull the soil carefully away from the clumps to aid ripening.

Week 20:

Plant out seed sown or pot/cell grown plants 200mm (8") apart, in rows 300-400mm (12"-16") apart.

Thoroughly water in the plants after planting to settle them in.

Planted out Seedlings / Sets

Week 22>:

Applying a high potash feed to Shallots at this time can assist size and ripening.

Week 25:

Clear back soil (if necessary) from Shallots to allow them to expand and ripen.

Circa Week 27 - 30:

As the leaves turn yellow, lift the bulbs and separate them, then leave them out to dry in the sun for a few days.

To help them dry out, spread them on netting fixed to stakes or dry them off under a well ventilated frame.

Cover them if it rains.

Ready for Harvesting

An alternative method to drying them outdoors is set them out on slatted shelving in a greenhouse.

Once dry,remove loose skins and remains of foliage to reduce the risk of fungal infections in storage.

Take care not to bruise the bulbs and use any damaged specimens immediately.

Laid out by variety
Sorted and laid out to Dry

Week 28 -30:

Place bulbs in trays, net bags or string them up, and store in a dry, airy, frost free place.

Save a few bulbs for planting the following season, ensuring that these are completely sound and disease free.

Stored in Trays
Bagged /Strung Up
Bulbs saved for following season

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