For centuries shallots have been highly prized for their delicate onion/garlic flavour which is considered superior to onions in many cooking recipes. The green, leafy tops when finely chopped are an excellent substitute for chives.
Plant the small bulbs throughout the winter in a sunny, open site in well-draining soil. Enrich with wood ashes, compost, peat and/or 4 handfuls per square meter of general plant food dug in lightly.
In heavier soils the bulbs can be planted in a small pocket of sand, river gravel or pumice which will help keep the young bulbs from rotting in wet weather.
Simply break off individual cloves and press these lightly into the cultivated soil 10cm apart each way and to about half their depth.
Leave the top half exposed above the ground. As the bulb crowns multiply keep their tops exposed to create firm, healthy mature bulbs. Harvest when the tops die down in midsummer.
Store your delicacies in mesh bags where they will reward the gourmet for many months to come.
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