The Q&A Archives: Why Are My Shallots So Small?

Question: This is the fourth year I've planted shallots. The other vegetables that I plant do well in my established garden. I add compost every year, check on the pH, fertilize, use drip irrigation. The shallots grow well and healthy-looking, too, but the tops die back around early July and the shallots are very small. I've heard that giving the shallots a "haircut" midseason will make them larger, but when I tried this last year the tops died back even sooner and the shallots were even smaller. How can I get nice plump shallots?

Answer: Shallots tend to be small if they are not watered ebough or if the soil is not rich enough, but it may also be the variety you are using. General cultural instructions would include weeding and mulching to reduce competition and keep the soil cool and moist, and being sure to plant them out very early in the spring -- at least a month before the last frost. The tops shold be left to grow until the foliage begins to yellow, then knocked over to help the bulbs cure. Finally, shallots grown from bulbils will be smaller, and shallots that are allowed to flower will also be smaller.

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