Dutch Yellow Shallots
Updated: Jul 23
PLANTING IN THE WINTER GREENHOUSE
January is rarely thought of as a time for planting, but there are a few crops that get their start in the short days of midwinter. A couple of weeks ago, Greg and I spent the afternoon working in the greenhouse spreading compost, turning soil, and watering the overwintering kale, lettuces, chard, and beets. We also took time to plant the Dutch Yellow Shallots for the coming season. Shallots are a long-season crop. This means that in order for us to harvest them by midsummer in our homestead garden, we grow them in the greenhouse, a growing dome from Growing Spaces. They are planted in December or January and harvested in late June or early July.
Shallots are a member of the Allium family, like their onion and garlic relatives. While we grow both of the latter, shallots provide a different flavor--sweeter and richer--than the others. They also store longer. Shallots produce a clump or cluster of small bulbs that are attached at the base.
When planting time arrived, we chose from the braids of last year's harvest that hang in our cool, dry sunroom. We opted for bulbs that had good size, a firm texture, and thick protective papers surrounding them. These are used as seed for this year's crop. After loosening the soil, which had compacted from moisture and inactivity, we dug furrows 2-3 inches deep. The bulbs should be placed deeply enough so that the tops are just below soil level. Because we have limited space in the greenhouse, we usually place the bulbs 6-8 inches apart.
They will begin root growth first, taking advantage of the greenhouse's warm daytime temperatures and moderate nights. None of the greenhouse plants put on significant growth until the beginning of February when the day length increases. This means that the lettuces, kales, etc. are largely on hold, waiting for the First Green of Spring.
In a few weeks, the shallot's tops will break through the soil, filling us with hope for the coming year. Throughout the spring and into the summer, the soil around the bulbs should be kept moist, only drying off when the clusters of bulbs are fully developed and the tops have started to die back. This will happen during the last few weeks of June, leading to an early July harvest. The harvested shallots will be dried, cleaned, and braided to store and enjoy for another year.
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