Fall planting onions, garlic, shallots, leeks

Garlic, onions and shallots are planted in late-fall here. Sometimes as late as New Year's Day with pretty good results, depending on how early the first freeze arrives.
Shallots with onion

If yours isn't in the ground yet, there is still time. Our garlic seeds are in but the onions still remain.

We are in zone 7 so short season varieties are the best choices for us. It's based on sunlight hours: short day, 10 to 12 hours; intermediate day, 12 to 14 hours; and long day, 14 to 16 hours.

Dixondale Farms catalog just arrived yesterday in the same mail as the shallot seeds from a new vendor I'm trying. Dixondale has a good, online reference for planting at

Park Seed
Shallots can be confusing: You can purchase small shallots now and plant them over the winter to harvest in the spring. Or, you can plant seeds now that will become those small shallots. If you plant the seeds in the ground they will become kitchen/table food next year. If you plant them in cell trays now inside, you can raise them into shallot babies to plant out in the garden next spring.

Shallot seeds germinate best at 68-70 F and are planted at a depth 4 times the size of the seed. The sliver of grass-like monocot will show itself in a week or two.

When there are 2 true leaves, transplant them fairly close together for single shallots and farther apart for clusters. Their roots are shallow so keep an eye on the moisture level at the top 3 inches of soil.

Plant the seeds outdoors in the spring in the north and outdoors in the fall in the southern U.S.
The plants are frost-hardy and the leaves can be trimmed to be used as chives.

Whether you are planting onions or shallots, find a sunny place with good drainage. They prefer pH between 6.2 and 6.8. All of these Alliums show their readiness for harvest by turning their leaves yellow and all are dried in a breezy spot to preserve them for several months of use.

I've always grown leeks from seed and they have been consistently successful. The first year I started them in containers and then transplanted the tiny-grass-like babies into the garden. After that, they produced their own seed and all I did was shade a seedhead onto prepared soil and the result was plenty of leeks for our use.

Garlic-thyme tofu with arugula
on a bed of rice with mushroom saute.
From our garden & in our kitchen.

Sources for seeds and sets:
SandHill Preservation www.sandhillpreservation.com
Thompson and Morgan www.thompson-morgan.com
Woo's Worms and Gardens www.woofish.com
Peaceful Valley http://www.groworganic.com/
Burpee www.burpee.com
Dixondale www.dixondalefarms.com
Kitchen Garden Seeds www.kitchengardenseeds.com
Johnny's www.johnnyseeds.com
Holland Bulb Farms www.hollandbulbfarms.com

Here's a YouTube video on how to plant shallot seeds - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ys6QJQKusUU

The best advice on planting shallot seeds is from Heirloom Organics
"Choose a weed-free, well-drained location. Raised beds are ideal. Shallots are good for intercropping with other garden plants, especially early-maturing spring greens. Do not plant where other onion family crops have been grown in the past 3 years.

Direct seed ½ inch deep, ½ to 1 inch apart, in rows 10 to 18 inches apart, 2 to 4 weeks before average last frost. This rate will usually produce a single bulb from each plant. To produce clusters of bulbs, increase spacings to 6 to 8 inches.

Plant sets in fall or early- to mid-spring. Break bulbs into individual cloves and plant about 1 inch deep so that tops are just covered, 6 inches apart, rows 12" apart. You can cut large cloves into smaller pieces as long as head has some root on it. Mulch to reduce soil heaving and protect plants.

Shallots have shallow root systems and need consistent moisture and good weed control. (Be careful. Grass and shallot seedlings can be difficult to distinguish.) Water weekly if weather is dry, and mulch to retain moisture and suppress weeds. "


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