Growing and Storing Shallots

“About how long will these shallots store?  When should the seeds be planted in Zone 6? ~Wendy”


Hi Wendy,

Thank you for the email regarding how to grow and store your shallots.

Perhaps the biggest single advantage offered by growing from seed is that the viral, fungal and bacterial diseases which can affect vegetative material do not affect seeds. A healthier crop is, therefore, assured. Secondly, the problems involved every year in the storage of shallots, such as rotting, sprouting and dehydration, can now be things of the past.

Staying with the quality angle, to produce the best yield of well shaped bulbs it is important to sow seed at one every 1/2 inch (1 per cm). Seed sown too thinly can result in the bulbs becoming coarse and splitting.

First I start with some soilless mix that I mix up myself and an empty seed flat (I reuse mine from year to year making sure to wash them well between uses). I usually mix some Dr Earth Starter Fertilizer in my starting mix and this has given me great luck with my seedlings.

Soilless mix is often dry and if it contains peat moss it doesn’t moisten evenly unless you use warm water. So usually I warm some water to moisten the trays, I let it cool before I add the seeds.

I sow a few seeds per cell in my flat and then I dust lightly with some more seed starting mix and then mist lightly with water to moisten the top. Then on the covers go waiting for the seeds to germinate. Some seeds like it warm, and shallots are one of those, I use an electric blanket on low wrapped around the other flats to warm them (make sure you use plastic so you don’t get your electric blanket wet). Keep an eye out for germinating seeds and then under the grow light they go.

The best way how to grow shallots in loose, well-drained soil that’s been amended with organic matter. They also prefer areas receiving full sun. Shallots are often planted in early spring or as soon as the soil is manageable in warmer climates. Plant them about an inch or two deep with the tips slightly protruding from the soil’s surface. Space shallots about eight inches apart to prevent overcrowding.

Some tips for growing shallots are that they require thorough watering once planted but will require less as they mature, with exception to overly dry conditions. Once mid-spring arrives, you may want to expose shallot bulbs to aid in the ripening process, as they develop better on top of the ground. However, a light layer of mulch will help retain moisture while keeping weeds to a minimum.

When to harvest shallots can be tricky for some, as this usually depends on when planting took place. Generally, fall plantings are ready to harvest in winter or spring while those planted in spring may be harvested in mid-summer to early fall.

Harvest shallots when the bulbs are about a quarter inch around but wait for the leaves to yellow before lifting. For an extended harvest season, plant and harvest the largest shallots first, replanting smaller bulbs in their place for harvesting later.

Once shallots are harvested, any unused bulbs should be stored. Dispose of any bulbs that appear soft or bruised. Shake off soil once lifted from the soil and allow shallots to remain in a warm, dry area for about a week prior to storing. Then place them in a mesh bag and store them in a cool, dry place. They should last at least six months if properly cared for.

Growing shallots is easy and require little care, other than occasional watering. These hardy little bulbs are seldom affected by problems; however, you should practice crop rotation every other year or so, especially in areas where other onions have been previously grown.

Following these tips for growing shallots, you should be able to easily add these delicious vegetable to your garden.




© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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