Search This Blog

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Shallot By Any Other Name

It seems that every time I try some sort of new homesteading skill for myself, I learn a new respect for the folks who subsisted on the skill or who do it for a living.  Take saving seed, for instance.  Letting the garden go to seed is not difficult- I'm actually pretty good at that- but gathering and cleaning seed is a chore. Now, granted, the folks who do it for a living are probably assisted by mechanical devices, but it's still a somewhat mind-numbing experience to clean seed out of the seed heads of several different alliums…come to think of it, it was a tuckus-numbing experience as well, because I was at it for a few hours today and sitting on an as-yet un-cushioned bench for the duration. First I cleaned the seed out of the only onion that had a chance to develop a flower head, which didn't take too long.  Then I cleaned the seed from the only leek flower head that seemed to be mature enough- the other two were still green and didn't want to give up their seed, so I didn't force the issue.  Then I cleaned the seed from several (maybe nine or ten?) shallot seed heads. Which brings me to my next revelation.
In trying to find out how to grow shallots from seed, all I managed to learn is that true shallots don't grow from seed; they  only grow from bulbs, and that shallots that set seed are really a kind of onion. Furthermore, true shallots are mildly onion flavored and are never strong, which also points to the 'shallots' I planted this year truly being onions, and not shallots.  The first one I cut up was so volatile I felt like I was cutting up a small bag of mustard gas.  So this boatload of seed I saved is not really for shallots. Even if they're little onions, they're good little onions.  They were great in the pan sauce I made for the chicken last night.  They were great in the oxtail soup I made tonight (which reminds me I need to write that one down because it was easily one of the best soups I've ever made and I am no slouch in the soup department). But getting back to the shallot seed, when all was said and done, I probably had around one-half to two-thirds of a cup of shallot seed.  Way too much for one little garden.  So you know what I did?  I packaged it all up into little 2 gram packages so that any of you (okay, the first twenty-two of you) who would like to experiment with seeds that are for onions masquerading as shallots could try growing them from seed with me. It will be a grand experiment of sorts.  Just let me know by dropping me a line saying so with your name and address and I will get them out to you.

I still don't know how to grow shallots from seed, but I'm going to guess that since they're probably really onions, I can grow them like onions.  My success rate with the alliums is kind of fifty-fifty; I can grow the dickens out of garlic, and the shallots did pretty well, but I'm not doing so well with the onions.  See the shallots in the picture in my header?  That was this year's shallot crop.  I sure hope I do that well with the seed, because I'm not ordering any bulbs for next year.  Part of this whole homesteading thing is to learn to be self-sufficient (not that I believe in true self-sufficiency because even the homesteaders had to drive into town occasionally for things), so learning to save seed against the day when you can't get it is a good skill to have, just in case.  Learning how to turn those seeds into food is an even better skill I think, and I'm still working on that one, too.

Don't forget to let me know if you'd like to try so-called shallot seeds. Offer good while supplies last, as they say.

13 comments:

JustAnotherGraphicsGirl said...

Cool. I would like to give it a try! Will e-mail you my info. JAGG

rslosek said...

I'm in :)

Rachel said...

Do you think they'll grow in Az? I'd love to try them and will email you my info. It's probably planting time for them down here.

Holly House said...

Hey! I'm down for some seeds! I can't email you through the link, this is my boyfriend's mac and he doesn't have the email set up and it won't just show me your email address. mine is hollyhousekitchen@yahoo.com.
I had no idea about the shallot/onion thing. So when a shallot goes to seed, the seeds aren't shallot seeds? weird.

jules said...

Wow, great offer. DO you think they'll grow in LA? (Lower Alabama, I mean REALLY low?)

Paula said...

I think it's worth trying in both Az and Al...but since they're probably a type of onion, I don't know if they're long day, short day or neutral.

So trying the seed all over the place would be an interesting part of the experiment.

So Jules, send me your address so we can try them down in your neck of the woods.

Anonymous said...

I'm in Florida, and we grow onions, but haven't tried many varieties. Would love to try some of yours. I am: Bárbara CZ de C c/o Zephryhills High School, 6335 12th Street, Zephryhills, FL 33542
Thanks in advance, and I'll let you know how they grow!

Rae said...

I don't need any seed, as I'd probably lose it before next year. :) I applaud your seed saving efforts, though! Perhaps one day I'll be organized enough to try the same. Probably not, but it's a nice thought. Lol. :)

Lyssa Kaehler said...

I'll give them a Southern California try. We can't ever get enough onions around here!

jill said...

Thanks, Paula! I'd like to try them here in Georgia. AND...please publish your oxtail soup recipe if you're willing to share! If YOU say it's good, I know it's a winner.

Jackie said...

Hi, I would love to try your shallot seeds if you are happy to post to the UK. I usualy do ok with my onions and garlic, will e-mail my address. Thanks.

Paula said...

I would be happy to post to the UK, Jackie, and it wouldn't be the first time!

jackie d said...

Have'nt been able to e-mail my details to you, my e-mail address is durrantjc@btinternet.com, hope you are able to contact me.