Growing Shallots:
How to Grow Shallots Organically

Growing shallots is an easy task for the home gardener, but it takes around 100 days to do so from seed. A gourmet favorite, shallots need rich, well-drained soil, plentiful moisture and full sun to partial shade in order to grow and flourish.

Shallots may be grown from seeds or from sets, which are small bulbs grown from seed the previous growing season.

Growing Shallots: Plant Snapshot (Allium cepa)

Growing Shallots
  • Family: Alliaceae (Onion family)
  • Annual or Perennial? Perennial grown as an annual. Ready to harvest 90 to 100 days after planting.
  • Recommended varieties: Atlantic, Creation, Drittler White Nest, Golden Gourmet
  • Cold tolerance: Hardy - Will survive hard frosts and can be planted 2 to 3 weeks before the average date of the last 32 degree F (0 degree C) temperature in spring.
  • Required Sun: Full sun to partial shade
  • When planning vegetable crop rotation, group with crops from this family: Alliaceae: garlic, onion
  • Companion plants (see Companion Planting Charts for more info):
    • Companions: Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage family, Carrot, Cauliflower, Celery, Chamomile, Collard, Cucumber, Dill, Kale, Lettuce, Pepper, Potato, Radish, Rose, Savory, Squash, Strawberry, Tomato
    • Avoid: Asparagus, Beans, Gladiolus, Peas
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Planting Shallots

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Assuming you have a 100+ day growing season, plant shallot seed in early spring as soon as the soil is ready for digging. Shallot seeds and sets may also be planted in the fall for a late spring/early summer harvest.

For best results, plant in full sun and add organic matter to the soil before sowing seeds or sets. To avoid overcrowding, seeds should be spaced 2 to 3 inches (2.54 to 5.08 cm) apart, and individual cloves separated from sets should be planted about 6 inches (15 cm) apart.

Water shallots thoroughly once they have been planted.

Snapshot: Planting Shallots

  • Planting depth: about 1 to 2 inches (2.54 to 5.08 cm)
  • Spacing in rows: seeds: 2 to 3 inches (2.5 to 8 cm); individual cloves from sets: about 6 inches (15 cm)
  • Germination soil temperature: 50 to 95 degrees F (10 to 35 degrees C)
  • Days to germination: 11 to 14 days
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Growing Shallots: From Germination to Pre-Harvest

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Once shallots have been planted and have reached about 3 inches (8 cm), you should mulch around and between the plants. To keep soil temperature up, shallots planted in the fall should be mulched with black plastic.

Remove garden weeds diligently by hand, and remove any flower stems that appear on the plants. Keep soil moist by watering weekly, especially in dry weather.

Snapshot: Growing Shallots

  • Preferred soil pH (see soil pH tester for more information): 6.0 to 7.0
  • Growing soil temperature: 55 to 75 degrees F (12.7 to 23.8 degrees C)
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Growing Shallots: Harvesting Time

Shallots are ready to be harvested when their leaves have started to turn brown and droopy. Harvest your shallots by lifting them from the soil, then leave them to dry for a few days in the shade if possible.

In inclement weather, dry shallots indoors in single layers on a screen. Let shallots cure for seven to twenty-one days, then inspect them for softness and damage, discarding any bad specimens.

Snapshot: Harvesting Shallots

  • Time to harvest: About 90 to 100 days
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Storing Shallots and Freezing Shallots

For storage, separate shallots, trim roots and stems, place in mesh vegetable bags and hang in a dry, well-ventilated area. Do not store shallots in warm, humid areas or in locations where they may freeze.

Shallots will turn mushy when frozen, so this method of storage is not recommended. Shallot seeds remain viable for up to four years.

Snapshot: Storing Shallots & Freezing Shallots

  • Storage temperature: 32 to 55 degrees F (0 to 12.7 degrees C)
  • Humidity: 50 to 60% relative humidity
  • Storage life (unfrozen in above conditions): 6 to 8 months
  • Storage life (frozen): N/A
  • Seed longevity: About 1 year
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Growing Shallots: Pests & Diseases

The following pests and diseases have been known to affect the success of growing Shallots. For more information about preventing and controlling them, see Organic Garden Pest Control.

Pests

  • Bulb mites
  • Cutworms
  • Grasshoppers
  • Leafminers
  • Mites
  • Nematodes
  • Onion maggot
  • Snails/Slugs
  • Thrips
  • Wheat curl mite

Diseases

  • Bacterial soft rots
  • Basal rot
  • Black mold
  • Blue mold rot
  • Botrytis leafspot (Leaf blight)
  • Downy mildew
  • Neck rot (Botrytis bulb rot)
  • Pink root
  • Purple blotch
  • Stemphylium leaf blight
  • White rot
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