QUESTION: Can I plant last year’s shallots? If so, any tips on how to do this? Do I need to prepare the shallots for planting? -Tim J
ANSWER: Yes, you can plant last year’s shallots in the following growing season, and since each shallot that you plant produces nearly two pounds of bulbs, you should always have more than enough to use in the kitchen, leaving plenty of additional bulbs to plant in the next fall or winter. When properly stored, shallots will retain freshness for up to nine months, so you should never have to acquire additional shallot sets to plant come planting time.
Follow these instructions to store excess shallots for planting next year:
- Harvest fall or winter sown shallots in late spring or mid-summer once the tops of the plant begin to yellow and fade. This typically occurs 80 to 90 days after planting sets.
- Separate the bulb into individual shallots
- Brush off any dirt or soil and spread them out to dry for two weeks on a wire rack in a dry, sheltered location.
- Sort your shallots when the remaining leaves are papery, dry, and easy to remove. Throw out any shallots that are soft, mushy, or show signs of a pest damage.
- Store large shallots in a perforated bag to use in the kitchen. Keep the largest, healthiest looking shallots you can spare into another netted bag. When determining how many shallots to set aside for future planting, keep in mind that each shallot produces five to 12 new bulbs per growing season.
- Wrap a piece of masking tape around the neck of the mesh bag and leave a long tail. Fold the tail to double over on itself and seal the sticky sides together. Label the bag, “Shallot Sets,” so you don’t forget that they are being saved for planting and use them in the kitchen accidentally.
- Store both shallot bags in an area that stays between 40 and 45 degrees F. with low humidity and excellent air circulation. Keep them out of direct sunlight, but not in complete darkness, so as not to encourage early sprouting.
- Take a peek at your stored shallots occasionally during the summer and fall months and toss out any that have turned mushy.
- Plant shallot sets outdoors between late fall and late winter, depending on the weather conditions in your area.