Before Christmas I spotted ‘echallions’ on sale in Waitrose. I bought half a dozen, to see what would happen if I planted them. I have never successfully grown shallots before – I had some seed for banana shallots from a seed swap, but they never came to anything. I also planted some of them on my short-lived allotment, but nothing came of that! The day that I planted them my plot neighbour (who would only speak to me if Pete wasn’t around, and then only briefly) lit a bonfire in the middle of his plot so that the smoke was blowing into my eyes while I was trying to plant. It wasn’t the world’s friendliest place.
Anyway, echallions are posh French shallots, supposed to be the holy grail for gourmet gardeners. There seems to be some confusion over whether banana shallots are the same thing or not, and the advice on when to plant shallot sets varies too.
I read somewhere that shallots were traditionally planted on the shortest day – but on the shortest day last year my garden was buried under several inches of snow and I had more important things on my mind. It wasn’t until yesterday that I remember the shallots and decided to carpe diem and just plant them.
And so this morning I have planted them so that their tips are just visible, 6 inches apart, in the ‘perennials’ bed in front of Dobby. Now I just have to remember that they’re there and not plant something on top of them before they start to send up shoots.
My research suggests that there are 3 possible outcomes to my echallion project:
- These are proper echallions and will not divide, but will flower and set seed that I can sow next year.
- They’re long shallots, named echallions for marketing purposes, and will divide into clumps of shallots.
- It won’t work. Shallots sold for eating are sometimes treated to stop them sprouting.
I will post updates later in the year :)