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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Growing Shallots from Seed (Seed Sowing Saturday!)

Welcome to the first Seed Sowing Saturday of 2011! Where all of us seed starting fanatics recap our weekly seed starting experiences and share with each other what we're working on, how we're doing it all, and of course the results!

I chose to start my seed sowing this week by starting shallots. We do a great deal of our cooking in the kitchen with yellow onions and I love the red ones grilled but I think by far the best all around cooking onion is the shallot. It doesn't have the overwhelming strong taste like the red onions and has a nicer flavor than the yellow onions. The only problem with shallots is that they are so expensive. So to increase the quality of our cooking without raising the grocery expenses we are going to attempt to grow shallots.

I like to use everyday kitchen trays to hold out seed starting pots. They are cheap and easily available. I filled this one with 16 small round peat pots. In the past I've used all kinds of plastic yogurt containers with holes poked in the bottom but I happened to have some small peat pots in the garage that were handy.


I added a commercial seed starting mix. It's one of the easiest ways to go and is available in organic versions. Many people make their own formulas for seed starting mix but I haven't as of yet (I'm interested in hearing about your soil mix if you have one!) After adding the mix to the pots I watered the tray and allowed the water to soak into the pots and the soil.


In went the shallot seeds! I placed two per pot for a total of 32 shallots. I hope they all germinate but there will probably be some seeds that are no longer viable. Onions have shorter shelf life than many other plants and these seeds have been around a little while.Even if only half of the seeds germinate I'll still have a nice crop of shallots.



In our upstairs closet I have a grow light set up for our seed starting. It's just an old fluorescent shop lamp but it's always done a great job. I like to adjust the height so that it is close to the seeds. Once the seedlings are old enough I'll harden them off to the outdoors and plant them as onion sets in the garden.

 Next week I hope to make my seed purchase for this year's seeds. I usually go with heirlooms so that I can save the seeds but I may try a few hybrid summer squashes to see if any can resist the squash bugs, borers, and the rot issues I had last year. We love our summer squash around here and get cranky when we can't grow it!

What's going on with your Seed Sowing Saturday? Don't forget to leave a link to your post below in the comments!

6 comments :

  1. Dave, I've been following your blog for about a week now and have read some of your old posts. I have found some things helpful. Especially the designs you have used for your vegetable garden. I like the idea of seed starting Saturdays, I have a little while still before I can start my seeds as far north as I am, but last weekend I started some herb seeds to grow in my kitchen. Today I decided to coat my walls with tin foil to add extra lighting in my seed starting room, I read it somewhere and thought it was a good suggestion, so we'll see how it goes. Thanks for the great blog, I've been enjoying it!

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  2. I love shallots too, but agree that they are definitely pricey. I should order some shallot seeds to try out. I like your grow light setup. So you can use just a regular old flourescent? And it works? Do you keep the lights on 24 hours or do you turn it off at night?

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  3. Thanks Fer!

    Amanda,
    I'm glad you are enjoying the blog posts! I've used the tin foil in the past and did find it useful. It increases the light a little bit. Join in the Seed Sowing Saturday when you can!

    Meemsnyc,

    I've used the regular fluorescent lights for several years now. When they blow out I may switch to a more specialized grow light bulb but for now they've done a good job. I have a timer set up on the lights so that I don't have to worry about switching it on and off.

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  4. Fun! I usually work with seeds on Saturday, so I think I'll join you! I'm curious to see how your shallots do; I'm thinking of giving them a try but not sure what variety ...

    This season is my first at starting seeds indoors; so we shall see how it goes as the season progresses. This week I graded myself!

    Seed Starting Report Card

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  5. I have started shallots from seeds the past two years (this will be my third year). I start them in flats and let them grow pretty thickly (maybe an inch apart although some are closer and some further apart). When I transplant them I gently tease the seedlings apart. They have survived this treatment without loss. I've read that you should give the seedlings a haircut to encourage growth. I did this last year--trimming them to about 6-8 inches a few times. I don't know if it helped--they were vigorous plants both year.

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Dave

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