Shallots are a member of the onion family and have long been used in French cooking. They add a sweet, but never bitter, flavor to everything from salad dressings to soups. Several varieties of shallots exist; the mature bulb can be either yellow or reddish. Available as bulbs or seeds, shallots perform well in many types of soil, but if your soil is loam or sandy loam, expect excellent results when you grow them from seeds.
Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic compost on the soil surface of the row or raised bed where you plan to grow your shallots. Turn it under with your shovel and toss it well to mix it with the soil.
Start seeds directly in the garden in early or mid-spring, or in late summer through fall, rather than attempting to transplant seedlings from flats. Then rake the area level.
Dig a shallow furrow with your hoe, about ½ inch deep. Then scatter seeds between ½ inch and ¾ inch apart. Plan to plant about 50 seeds per foot. Cover seeds with ½ inch of your compost and soil mixture and then run a sprinkler over the area for about 15 minutes.
Water the planted area to keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy.
Thin seedlings to stand 3 to 4 inches apart when they reach about 4 inches in height. Favor the largest, strongest seedlings and use the ones you pull in salads.
Fertilize young shallots with a balanced fertilizer about one month after you plant the seeds. Repeat this application twice more during the growing season.
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