The Q&A Archives: Shallot Cultivation in Northwestern PA

Question: I successfully grow garlic in this area by planting it in the fall, and harvesting in late summer. Can I do the same thing with shallots? If this is possible I plan to purchase 20 sets from you for fall planting.

Answer: The Allium family is interesting this way; garlic & Egyptian Onions are best planted in fall, but standard onions (A. cepa) and shallots (A. cepa aggregatum) should be planted in early spring in your area. Plant cloves 4" apart, about 1" deep (so just the tip of the clove is showing) in rows 12-18" apart. In early summer, gently draw soil away from the bulbs. You can use the tops as a scallion substitute. As with other members of the onion family, it's important to keep the patch fairly weed-free,since they don't compete well. During the spring and summer, mulch the soil lightly to maintain moisture and aid in weed control. They'll be ready to harvest in about 5 months - the leaves start to wither - pull them before the tops collapse, though. Then cure them in a dry, airy place for up to two weeks - that'll depend on humidity. Store them in net bags or braid them like garlic, and hang them in a cool, dry place. If you want, you can even plant some bulbs in a flower pot so you can enjoy the greens this winter. Eat and enjoy!

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