How to Plant, Grow, and Save Seeds from Shallot
This smaller cousin of the common onion belongs to the Allium cepa species, subspecies aggregatum. Shallots lend sweetness to dishes that ask for onions and they are just as easy to grow as their large-bulbing relatives.
Plant shallot seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost. Sow shallot seeds ¼” deep. Seeds will germinate in 4-10 days. Just before the last spring frost, head out to your garden and loosen up the soil. Make a large furrow in your garden bed, at least 4” deep. Water this furrow before planting your seedlings to make transplanting easier. Set out seedlings 3-6” apart in rows at least 6” apart.
Like onion, shallot can suffer from soil borne diseases. Be sure to rotate your allium crops and plant shallots in well-drained soil. Diseases and fungi such as Fusarium basal rot, white rot, and Botrytis neck rot can affect Allium crops in storage. Crop rotation can help prevent these diseases.
Shallot leaves will begin to wilt once the bulb has matured. When they have formed small bulbs, harvest the plants and place them in a warm, dry spot away from direct sunshine to cure. Cure shallots for 2-3 weeks after harvesting by storing them in a warm place away from direct sunlight. When the shallots feel paper-dry on the outside, clip off the tops and roots, and lightly brush off loose soil before storing the shallots in a cool, dry place. Arrange them in a single layer or hang them in mesh bags.
Eating and Storing
Use shallots to add earthiness and subtle floral notes to dishes that call for onions. Shallots will last for several months if stored in cool, dry conditions.
Shallot is a biennial crop. Biennials typically do not flower in their first growing season. They must first experience cold weather before they flower, set seed, and die in their second growing season.
When saving seeds from shallot, separate varieties by at least 800 feet-½ mile in their second year. To ensure viable seeds, save seeds from at least five plants. To maintain a variety over time, save seeds from between 20-50 plants.
To produce seed from shallots, select several perfect shallots and store them through winter. Ideally, store shallots in a cool, dry space away from sunlight. Replant shallots in early spring. After the plants bloom and seed heads begin to dry, gather the heads in a paper bag and shake the seeds free. Allow the seeds to air-dry for a few days before storing the seeds in a cool, dry place. Shallot seeds will remain viable for several years.