Shallots are traditionally planted from sets ( very small shallots).
They grow new bulbs in a cluster around the mother set, rather like a garlic clove.
Plant as soon as soil is dry enough , in March or April.
Use a trowel, unless soil very light, when sets can be pushed in, so that they are buried to half their depth & have their shoulders poking through. Plant 15cm (6in) apart with 30cm (12in) between rows.
Check daily to make sure birds have not pulled them out. Push them back in if necessary. May be worth covering with a net if birds a problem.
Keep weeds down.
Lift or harvest shallots when leaves start to flop over & yellow, traditionally on the longest day. Leave them on the top of the soil to dry out, if it is dry & rain is not forecast, otherwise dry them under cover. There is no need to separate the clumps, they will fall apart naturally.
Storage: When dry, and the skins are shiny, store in trays, nets or tights in a cool, dry, well ventilated place. They should keep for 9 or 12 months.
Use shallots in cooking because they have a milder flavour than onions. They are good added whole to stews and casseroles.
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