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Vermont Garden Journal: How To Grow Shallots At Home

Rodrigo Cuel
Shallots are a smaller and milder relative of the onion.

There aren't many vegetables where you're eating the same varieties that were cultivated thousands of years ago but that is a the case with shallots. Shallots are considered by chefs as a classier version of the onion. Shallots are smaller, yet their flavor is richer and subtler and are native to Mediterranean region. The varieties we eat today have changed little from the first cultivated ones near the city of Ashkelon in Palestine, which were brought to Europe during the crusades and now are grown around the world.

Shallots are in the amaryllis family related to lilies and onions. The pear-shaped, French Grey shallot is considered the best flavored. There are also round yellow and red shallots. You can now buy shallot seed to grow in spring or start them from small sets.

Here is how togrow your own:

Like garlic, plant shallot sets now six inches deep, four to six weeks before the ground freezes. Cover with straw and overwinter. They will yield an early crop in spring. You can also plant them in spring for a summer crop. Shallots need full sun, well-drained, fertile soil, moisture and good weeding. Side bulbs form around the planted set. Once they begin to separate from the mother bulb and the plant yellows — harvest, cure and store for cooking. 

This week's tip:

Take four to six-inch long cuttings of geraniums, fuchsia and coleus now to root and grow indoors this winter. Remove the bottom leaves, dip the cut end in rooting hormone powder and stick the cutting in a pot filled with moistened potting soil. Keep it in a bright room, out of direct sunlight and in a month it should be rooted.

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
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