Tag Archives: shallots

Shallot or not?

Shallots have been cultivated since ancient times, possibly originating in or around Ashkelon, now a city in modern day Israel, for which a former classification as A. ascalonicum was named, as well as the term scallion, which is now applied to several sorts of allium grown for use whilst green and typically with little bulb. Shallots are well regarded for their culinary properties, with a more refined flavour than onions. The question is, though, what constitutes a shallot and how does it differ from an onion? Continue reading

Sowing this week

This week we got our main crop onions, garlic, and shallots planted. Usually, we would have an autumn sown crop running along the side beds of the polytunnel, where they produce well, especially the garlic. As we did little in the garden last year, we are missing out on this crop, but have planted two beds outdoors from spring sown sorts. March is a good time of year to do this and we have been waiting for the last couple of weeks for the weather to turn; the weekend weather was good so we got this task done. It is quite a big job as some three hundred or so sets needed to go in. Continue reading

Roasted beetroot and shallots

We are both very keen on beetroot. It is an easy crop, reliable, taking up little space, and offering a harvest over a long period; all great qualities for the kitchen garden. The ubiquitous harshly pickled stuff is nasty and really does no justice to the sweet earthy roots. We most often treat it rather simply, boiling until tender, removing the skins, chopping or slicing and dressing lightly whilst still warm. This is ideal served as a side dish or as an ingredient in salads. However, they are equally good raw and great when roasted. Continue reading

Sweetcorn salad

Freshly picked cobs of corn

Freshly picked cobs of corn

Sweetcorn is one of our favourite late summer crops. It takes up a fair bit of space so we only make two plantings – one under cover and one outdoors. The harvest is brief but there are few things better than freshly picked corn. We usually just simmer it for five minutes, slather in butter and seasoning, and enjoy it on the cob. For a change, though, we put together this simple salad. Continue reading

The weather finally allows the main crop onions to be planted

One of the first things we plant outdoors is the main crop onions, shallots, and garlic. We overwinter a crop in the polytunnel, which will be ready several weeks before the outdoor sowing. We found that those overwintered outdoors did not perform quite so well. Whilst they can stand the cold, the damp is problematic. Instead, we fill two of our 14 foot x 4 foot beds with our main crop in the spring. Though I would like to grow more from seed, sets are very convenient and several hundred can be planted out in just a couple of hours. At the moment we only grow a few special sorts from seed, mainly quick maturing ‘cipollini’. Sowing of the main onion crop is really at the mercy of the weather. Whilst it would be good to get them in early, there is no point whilst the soil is too wet and cold. Thanks to the heavy winter rains this year, the conditions have only just become suitable. We prepared the beds at the weekend and sowed today. Continue reading

Seed list 2014 – part 2 – alliums

This second article looking at the varieties we plan to sow in the coming year covers alliums: onions, shallots, garlic, and leeks. I make several sowings of onions, shallots and garlic. The first sowing, from sets, is at the end of the season, late autumn or early winter, to overwinter in the polytunnel. I have found the results to be far better than overwintering outdoors. I then make a spring sowing outdoors, again from sets, as soon as the soil has dried out sufficiently from the winter rains – something of a problem this year. Whilst fine for the onions and shallots, this puts the outdoor garlic a little later than ideal, as it benefits from a period of cold in order to develop good cloves, but seems to work better for us overall than sowing earlier and suffering the rigours of the winter weather. The damp is more of a problem than the cold, even with the generally good drainage provided by the somewhat sandy soil of our slightly raised beds. The undercover crop is larger and better, but the outdoor crop is usually still useful. I then sow various small onions from seed a little later; these do not need so long to develop and are culinary treats rather than main crop. Continue reading

Sowing overwintering crops

Polytunnel cleared of autumn crops and ready for overwintering

I am generally rather bad at sowing for the late winter, and keeping such things as winter saladings growing, and I really need to improve that if we are to get diverse produce all year round. The polytunnel certainly makes it easier at this time of year, when outdoors it is becoming rather cold and miserable; the polytunnel can still be very warm even on cloudy, windy, and rainy November days. Although I have not bothered too much about general winter crops – I am bogged down with some house renovations at the moment – there are some vegetables that are ideally sown in the autumn for late spring harvests: peas, broad beans, Japanese onions, shallots, and garlic. Continue reading

Fruity chilli sauce

Homemade chilli sauce

Autumn is a great time to consider preserving some of the fresh garden produce in the form of pickles, chutneys, and sauces. Today I experimented a little to create a new recipe for a hot but fruity chilli sauce. I exploited the seasonal harvest of ripe tomatoes, Bramley apples that are just ripening, and all sorts of fresh chillies, along with shallots and garlic from storage. Continue reading

Bags of onions

Yellow onions Sturon and Stuttgarter

I have already posted a couple of times about the great onion, shallot and garlic harvest this year. We have been eating our way through the autumn sown crop from the polytunnel for some months, whilst the main crop has been left a while in the glasshouses to dry. This weekend we went through them, packing away all of the sound bulbs for winter use. This task could have been done a couple of weeks after harvesting, but there is an advantage to our tardiness: those few bulbs that would otherwise have begun to rot in storage already show signs of softening or the development of moulds, so we can remove them easily before they have the chance to spread rot to the rest of the crop in store. Continue reading

More onions, shallots, and garlic

Reasonable results with garlic Arno

Our good friends Arto and Serafiina were on hand this weekend to assist in various garden tasks, including the onion harvest. In a previous post, I remarked on the best garlic crop we have ever produced, from a late autumn sowing benefitting for the first time from the protection of the polytunnel. I wondered, at the time, how the spring sown outdoor crop might fare. Today, the bulbs were revealed and I cannot say that I am disappointed as they are rather as expected, perhaps even a little better. Some of the bulbs are rather small, whilst others are of a useful size. They cannot compare, however, with those from the polytunnel, which were larger by far, and of high quality. I have yet to try the bulbs for flavour, and will not do so for some time, as these should store for longer. Continue reading