Saturday, February 25, 2017

Growing Shallots in Containers

Shallots are a member of the onion family, they taste like onions but have a milder flavor. They are nutrient dense and contain more flavonoids and phenols that other members of the onion family. They are not only delicious but are easy to grow in your garden. In today's post we look at how easy it is to grow shallots in containers.

Growing Shallots In Containers
Growing Shallots In Containers
We planted our shallot sets, the dutch yellow variety in February for a late summer harvest. Alternatively you also can plant your shallots early fall in the month of August/September for an early spring harvest, if winters in your area tend to be mild.
Before planting your shallots, you should prepare your container or raised bed by using soil which is well draining. We used a potting mix with some peat moss, perlite, worm castings and manure to provide shallots a rich medium to grow. Plant the shallot sets in full sun in soil with a neutral pH. Shallot sets are readily available in your local garden store from late winter to early spring.

Planting Shallots
Planting Shallots
We used a rope bucket wide enough to plant 8 bulbs, place them all around the container allowing sufficient space between each bulb. Push the bulb in a little bit, not too deep so the tops are barely visible. If you plant your shallot sets too deep you might end up with more greens and smaller to no bulbs. Also make sure you are not planting and growing shallots in an area where onions or shallots were grown in the previous season.
In about 15 days, you will notice that your shallot sets have sent out tiny green shoots. If you didn't add any fertilizer at the time of planting now is a good time to do so. Any vegetable fertilizer, organic all purpose fertilizer, fish emulsion or seaweed fertilizer would provide the necessary nutrients that your plant needs to grow. You can also use a saltbased synthetic fertilizer if you are a vegan and want to avoid any animal based product.
Around mid March, 27 days since planting the green shoots look longer and vibrant and you will notice that out of the 8 bulbs that we planted only 5 of them germinated and grew well. At this stage you can transplant your plants if you wish to.
In April, 55 days into the growing season, the shallot plant looks strong and the greens continue to grow dense. The leaves of shallots are edible and can be harvested, chopped fine and added to flavor your soups and dishes.

Shallots growing well
Shallots growing well
Around the end of June, 131 days since planting the greens have grown to the full potential, the plant will now devote all its energy into developing good bulbs. If you wish to you can side dress with a fertilizer at this stage so they produce nice bulbs. Also you need to water your plants very well. During hot summer make sure your plants get enough water as shallots are shallow rooted and in order for them to thrive they need sufficient water. So establish a good watering schedule.
In July, 150 days since planting you will notice that the tops are becoming yellow and slightly shriveled. One week before this stage stop watering the plants or at least reduce watering the plants till the time the bulbs are ready for harvest. In a week your bulbs would be ready for harvest, shallots are bunching onions that typically produce 5-7 small bulbs per plant.

Harvesting Shallots From a 5 Gallon Pot
Harvesting Shallots From a 5 Gallon Pot
Shallots are very expensive in the grocery stores and since they are so easy to grow, you should try growing them in your garden.
Curing and Storing
Curing is a very important process for onions and shallots. If you plan on harvesting and using them immediately then you are fine but if you plan on storing them then you need to cure the shallots. Leave them in the sun for a week for the tops and bulbs to dry and then let them cure in an open, ventilated space for up to a month. Keep them dry and out of sun during this time. The curing will mellow the flavor and increase their storage life. Once cured, store them in mesh bags in a cool place with good air circulation.
Curing Shallots
Curing Shallots

Shallots are used in fresh cooking and can be made into pickles. Finely sliced, deep fried shallots are a delicacy in certain cuisines. We absolutely love to grow and eat shallots.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The California Garden in Jan 2017 - Winter Harvests, Delicious Recipes and Some Insane Weather!

Welcome to the California Garden in the month of January 2017. Its been a great month for gardening and we bring you a video guide of our garden tour, the harvests we made this month, the hail and rain we got in Southern California and also some delicious recipes.

So let's start with the garden tour. This month we have a lot of vegetables growing, brassicas like cabbage, cauliflower occupying the major portion of our garden.

Next lets look at the harvests we made this month:
  • Avocado
  • Purple Cauliflower
  • Cilantro
  • Eggplants
  • Hyacinth Beans
  • Oranges
  • Hot Peppers
  • Radish greens & Roots
  • Spinach
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Tangerines
  • Tomatoes

We also got some interesting weather in Irvine, Zone 10 this month. Hailstorms and rain!

All in all this was a great month for gardening. Do see our video on the monthly gardening series for January for all this and some delicious recipes.

Happy Gardening!