Rising Shallots within the Southern Plains

Shallots (Allium cepa var. aggregatum and cvs.) are costly to buy within the retailer, which is one cause I prefer to develop my very own. A member of the allium or onion household, shallots have a delicate but distinctive taste and clumping development behavior. They’re surprisingly simple to develop; nonetheless, gardeners could face some challenges in elements of the Southern Plains, which will be addressed with cautious selection choice. Right here’s find out how to develop these tasty bulbs for the very best success in our area.

shallot planting depth
Photograph: Kim Toscano

Plant shallots in October and November within the Southern Plains

With our gentle winters, shallots are planted in fall for an early summer time harvest. Plant shallots after the primary frost of autumn, October in additional northerly elements of the Southern Plains, and into November farther south. Choose a planting website with full solar and well-drained soil. Loosen the soil with a backyard fork, and blend in a little bit bonemeal to offer the roots a lift. Alternately, you may apply a nitrogen-rich fertilizer after planting.

Shallots are planted as particular person bulbs, very like garlic. Set the bulbs very shallow, with the information slightly below the soil floor. Orient bulbs with the basis scar dealing with downward and the sharp find yourself, 6 to eight inches aside in rows. You can too tuck shallots amongst decorative plantings outdoors the vegetable backyard. Every bulb will develop right into a plant that produces a cluster of 5 to 12 new bulbs, so enable room for the brand new bulbs to unfold out across the authentic. Water the mattress properly after planting, and mulch your shallots in Zone 6 and cooler to guard them from excessive chilly.

shallot greens growing out of the ground
Photograph: André Baranowki

Select shallot varieties that may stand as much as our summer time warmth

Like different members of the onion household, shallots reply to day size to induce bulb formation. Nearly all shallot varieties are thought-about “lengthy day,” which suggests they require day lengths of 12 to 16 hours (relying on selection) to stimulate bulb growth. This crucial day size arrives within the warmth of summer time for a lot of the Southern Plains, which may trigger issues.

‘French Crimson’ shallot is the most typical selection offered commercially, and I’ve had nice success with this selection in my Oklahoma backyard. A shallot trial in Kansas additionally reported giant, plentiful bulb manufacturing from ‘French Crimson’. ‘Sante’ was one other profitable selection in that trial.

Shallots additionally reply properly to vernalization, or publicity to freezing temperatures, which produces bigger, extra flavorful bulbs. As such, growers in Zone 9 and hotter ought to think about rising multiplier or potato onions, similar to yellow potato onions (Allium cepa and cvs.), as an alternative of shallots. An alternative choice is to develop a shallot onion, similar to ‘Zebrune’, which is a hybrid between a shallot and an onion that has a candy, gentle taste and is proof against bolting.

Water and fertilize shallots recurrently when heat climate returns

Did I point out how simple shallots are to develop? They don’t require a lot pampering in the course of the winter months. Be certain to water them in properly after planting, and maintain plantings weeded as cool-season weeds pop up. Solely water once more if the soil dries, however take care to not overwater.

Look ahead to development to renew when the climate warms in spring. That is your indicator that it’s time to resume watering (if it doesn’t rain) and to fertilize your shallots. Two strategies can be utilized for fertilizing shallots; use the one that matches your gardening model. The primary choice is to use a single software of a slow-release nitrogen fertilizer similar to blood meal to feed vegetation all through the spring. Apply 1 to 2 teaspoons in a hoop round every plant, taking care to not contact the stem. An alternate methodology is foliar-feeding vegetation with a liquid fertilizer, similar to fish emulsion, each two weeks till bulb formation begins round mid-Could.

dried shallots
Photograph: Scott Phillips

Harvest shallots when bulbs are pushing out of the soil in late June

Bulb formation takes a number of weeks and is initiated by lengthening days. As a result of shallots are planted so near the floor, you may usually see the growing bulbs pushing out of the soil when they’re prepared to reap. Different indicators that vegetation are prepared to reap embody flopping and yellowing of foliage, sometimes in late June. Typically the bulbs don’t bulk up till simply earlier than harvesttime, so have persistence.

Bulbs will be pulled simply from unfastened soil by hand or lifted with a backyard fork. Shallots are cured equally to different forms of edible allium bulbs. Remedy the bulbs in a heat, dry place for a few week. After curing, retailer shallots in a mesh bag underneath cool, darkish, and dry circumstances. Maintain the smallest bulbs to replant for subsequent season’s harvest.

Use the leaves and scapes of bolted shallots for taste

Like onions and garlic, shallots can bolt or flower, which interrupts bulb formation and diminishes the storage lifetime of the shallot. Thankfully, shallots are slower to bolt than garlic, however it may nonetheless be an issue, significantly in hotter areas. Think about rising a bolt-resistant selection.

A bolting shallot doesn’t must go to waste. Harvest any vegetation that bolt, and use them like scallions or inexperienced onions. You can too minimize the scapes (flowers), which you may also use like scallions, and depart the shallots within the floor till you might be prepared to make use of them. Creating shallots have a fragile taste and will be harvested to eat even when they don’t bolt. Pull shoots when they’re the dimensions of inexperienced bunching onions, and use them in salads or as a garnish.

Shallots are extremely versatile within the kitchen. They’re a favourite amongst cooks and are definitely price a little bit of experimentation within the backyard.

—Kim Toscano is a horticulturalist based mostly in Stillwater, Oklahoma. She beforehand hosted Oklahoma Gardening, a weekly PBS tv program produced by the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.