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Shallots and Onions

Standard onions and shallots should be planted in early spring in certain areas.

Q: I successfully grow garlic in this area by planting it in the fall and harvesting in late summer. Can I do the same thing with shallots?

--Corry, PA

A: The allium family is interesting in this respect: garlic and Egyptian onions are best planted in fall, but standard onions (A. cepa) and shallots (A. cepa aggregatum) should be planted in early spring in your area. Plant cloves four inches apart, about one inch deep (so just the tip of the clove is showing) in rows 12 to 18 inches apart. In early summer gently draw soil away from the bulbs. You can use the tops as a scallion substitute. As with other members of the onion family, it's important to keep the patch fairly weed-free, since they don't compete well. During the spring and summer mulch the soil lightly to maintain moisture and aid in weed control. They'll be ready to harvest in about five months--when the leaves start to wither. Pull them before the tops collapse, though. Then cure them in a dry, airy place for up to two weeks; lengh will depend on humidity. Store them in net bags or braid them like garlic, and hang them in a cool, dry place. If you want, you can even plant some bulbs in a flower pot so you can enjoy the greens this winter. Eat and enjoy!

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