The OH and I have put in the last of the shallot sets for the season. This spring planting adds to those put in late autumn last year.
We’ve given up allocating much space for onion set planting, apart from a couple of rows of red onion – Red Baron. It’s a bit sad because I like the look of a row of onions with the tops folded over ready for lifting. However, brown skin onions are cheap to buy and we have found over the last few years that shallots store far, far better than onions. We are still cooking with stored shallots lifted last summer.
So the pluses for shallots are: they store better; they taste better; I don’t cry when I chop them and I’m always surprised at how expensive they are. So it makes sense to give more ‘Allium allocated’ space to growing them. Perhaps the yields from commercial fields of onions is much greater than fields of shallots hence the price premium on shallots and of course shallots have to be separated once lifted. Like garlic, a single planted shallot bulb clones itself, producing offsets creating a cluster – all very clever botanical stuff involving meristem cells. The clue to a shallot’s habit is in the species name Allium cepa (Aggregatum Group)
When I plant my shallots I only have a little bit of the neck showing as the birds have a habit of walking along the rows pulling the bulbs out and tossing them around, mixing up the rows of varieties. Which is really very annoying. Once the roots have formed anchoring the shallots I shall pull back the soil a little.
The varieties we have just planted are:
- Red Sun – this is a pretty round red skinned variety, good for storing and crisp white flesh;
- Golden Gourmet – a variety that is less likely to bolt with good-sized round, gold skinned bulbs and again excellent for storing;
- Red Gourmet – a recent development, early to mature, pink tinged flesh and meant to have a ‘spicy’ flavour , (I’m looking forward to this one) finally,
- Vigarmor – a French variety, banana shaped bulbs, coppery coloured skin and crisp, pink flesh. Again, this one is meant to store well.
January sowing/planting done – onwards into February.