Also known as scallions or eschalot, their flavor is mild and resembles sweet onion with a garlic taste. In cooking, they impart a unique flavor to the dish without overpowering the taste. You can add shallots in soups, salads, stews, or any other food recipe, in which you normally use onions.
Speaking about health benefits of shallots, they contain vitamin A, B, and C, along with a high percentage of potassium. In groceries, you will find shallots more expensive than ordinary onions.
So, a simple way to ensure a continuous supply of these flavorful small onions is planting them on your own. Shallots grow best in pots and kitchen gardens. You can use either seeds or sets to grow shallots. For beginners, sets or bulbs are a better choice, which can be grown with minimal effort.
Growing Shallots from Seeds
Shallot seeds are available in different varieties and sold at a cheaper rate than bulbs or sets. The drawback with growing shallots from seeds is that it takes more effort than planting bulbs. For example, you need to first sow the seeds and wait till germination, after which the seedlings should be transplanted in soil.
- It is best to sow shallot seeds indoors for quick germination. Purchase a plastic seed flat tray for sowing shallot seeds.
- Fill the garden flat with a sterile potting mixture and sow seeds sparsely. Cover the seeds with soil (about 1/8 inch thick) and water lightly.
- Cover the seed tray with a plastic wrap, place it in a warm, sunlit area until germination.
- Keep the soil moist; you can water the seedlings regularly to moisten the soil.
- When the seedlings grow to about 3 inch in height, you can transplant them to the vegetable garden.
- Supplement garden soil with sand and farmyard compost to make it slightly acidic (optimum pH range is 6.2 to 6.8), well-drained, and nutrient-rich.
- Transplant the seedlings with a space of about 3 to 4 inches between two plants. You can plant the seedlings 1 inch deep in the soil.
- Water frequently so that the top soil remain moist (not soggy). Remove weeds to maintain healthy shallots.
Growing Shallots from Sets
The major advantage of shallot sets is that they are pretreated with heat to arrest flowering. Shallot sets are specially preserved individual bulbs for the purpose of propagation.
- Select a plantation site that receives direct sunlight. You can also plant shallots in the borders of raised garden beds.
- The ideal soil conditions are well-drained, rich in humus or organic matter, and a near neutral pH.
- Purchase healthy, disease-free shallot sets from a reliable source. You can also check out the available varieties and select as per your preferred taste.
- To allow maximum growth, maintain a space of 6 inches between two shallot bulbs. In case of limited planting space, 4-inch spacing will also do, but will yield smaller bulbs.
- Water regularly, and within a few days time, you will notice development of leaves.
- Continue to irrigate to ensure healthy growth, and consider weeding as required.