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I have some shallot bulbs to plant but I don't know whether I should divide them into individual bulbs first, or plant each entire bulb as one.


There is quite a degree of confusion over the identity of something called a 'shallot', but I will try to be helpful. In New Zealand we often use the terms shallot and spring onion interchangeably. Both are members of the genus Allium (which includes leeks, onions and garlic), with true shallots being members of the 'Aggregata' group of A. cepa (which includes the common onion) and true spring onions being members of the species A. fistulosum. However, we can also call small onions (A. cepa) spring onions as well and the shallot can also be known as A. ascalonicum! Confused yet?

Anyway, assuming you have true shallot bulbs (and even if you have something else), here is what you do. First of all, you divide the bulb into individual bulbils (little bulbs). Then you plant them in autumn (May onwards) or spring, in well-drained rich soil, but not where you have grown onions, garlic or leeks before (otherwise your shallots will get nasty diseases). Do not plant them too deeply. Once your bulbils have established, keep them well-fed with nitrogenous fertilizers and well watered if the soil gets dry. Closer to harvest time lay off the nitrogen.

You can sometime grow shallots from seed, and you can usually get spring onion seedlings from most garden centres. Whatever the identity of your 'shallots', good luck with them.

UnitecAdvice by Dr Dan Blanchon from Unitec's Diploma in Sustainable Horticulture and Bachelor of Resource Management.

Reproduced with permission from NZOOM Home and Garden content,
from the previous website of  TVNZ News

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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