Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Giant Shallots

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Giant Shallots

    We have learned that there are onions and there are shallots. Onions are propagated by seed and shallots by dividing the clump of shallots and replanting the best. Shallots are not meant to flower (although some do throw up a flower scape once in a while, which we are taught to remove). Onions flower in their second year and produce seed.

    So what on earth is the Giant Shallot I have? Started off as seed from a swap with a gardener in the USA. No variety name. I grew a few shallots. They weren't particularly big. I replanted year after year and their size has progressively increased to what is now a 'cooking onion' size, such as the onions sold in the 'value packs' at the supermarket. Very big for a shallot and on the small side for an onion. They store superbly well (photo was taken today).

    Initially they all flowered, but after a few years many did not. Last year it was about half and half. I have grown them to seed in the past and they flowered and made seeds in the same year, unlike onions. They are fully winter hardy. Planting in October gives the earliest harvest.

    This is just such a useful vegetable, grows much easier than onions which really don't do so well here, and keeps a long time too. I prefer to propagate from offsets and not from seed to encourage the 'shallot' habit. I select the largest and the best which haven't flowered. I get 5 or 6 shallots from one bulb, fewer than classic shallots, but a very good return. Initially after the single shallot from seed, they split into 2 and 3 only. Propagating them vegetatively seems to have increased the numbers as well as the size.

    Is it a shallot? Is it an onion? Or is it something of an 'inbetween' like the Banana Shallots?
    Last edited by Galina; 12-02-2015, 10:17.

  • #2
    I have no idea, but I have to say they look amazing.

    Comment


    • #3
      I have to agree they look amazing and sound an absolute pleasure to grow. Potato Onion? Is there any way to get in touch with the US gardener, perhaps they might have some detail that could help.

      Comment


      • Galina
        Galina commented
        Editing a comment
        I wish I could. The swap packet did not have a name on. It wasn't a direct person to person swap, but via a list (a bit like the treasures in Jeannine's parcel which were mostly anonymous). In any case, the swap was still in the last millenium! At the time I knew nothing about shallots grown from seed, like Banana Shallots for example. Maybe these cross-overs aren't as rare as we think, just that UK shallots have always been propagated vegetatively and that may have made them not flower as a rule?

    • #4
      What a shame.
      I must admit I get a bit confused where the distinct lines are between onions -shallots from sets -shallots from seed (don't normally divide?) - multiplyer onions - potato onions? So it is very interesting you have a shallot variety that will propegate from either.

      Comment


      • #5
        There was a mention of Kelly Winterton's potato onions from seed on the A4A forum. So I had a look and found this
        https://docs.google.com/document/d/1...NpNUpIgHA/edit

        Very informative read and all readily applicable to my giant shallots. These seeds came from the States. It is just possible that they were second hand from Kelly or from a gardener in that circle, Maybe my donor is unrelated, grew shallots to viable seeds - hence 'Giant Shallot'. Kelly himself had shared seeds via Seed Savers Exchange (the USA equivalent of the Heritage Seed Library). This article explains several things.

        Written by a well-read amateur. The article said that shallots and potato onions are the same species, that it is vegetative cultivation which over many years suppressed the flowering ability, also referring to W W Weaver who had stated the same. That the bigger size in shallots/potato onions may well be due to sexual reproduction (flowering and setting seeds). Less virus disease - the flowering ability may be an effective gardener's tool to keep the plants healthier. There is a parallel with actual potatoes from tps vs from seed tubers. Potato Onions are biennial and flower in their second year. What if this is true for mine also - they appeared to flower in the same year but were actually put into soil in late October the previous year and overwintered?

        https://docs.google.com/document/d/1..._5mdAwnyA/edit
        This article also from Kelly Winterton, amongst a lot of other information compares autumn planted to spring planted potato onion. The autumn planted (which were only planted to demonstrate winterhardiness of potato onion) were the ones with the flowering tendency, the spring planted had none of it and were like traditional shallots which do not flower. I always autumn plant and always get some with flowers. I need to do the experiment the other way round and stick a few in right now.

        Very interesting (and different from my experiences with the original seed) was that when Kelly grew his own first year potato onions from seed, these were very large, like large onions. The photo shows some massive (but single) onions. The seed I swapped is called 'Giant Shallots' - was that in expectation of producing such single 'heiffers'? There are of course many reasons why my first year shallots have been much smaller here, irradiation at customs and/or transfer to an entirely different climate and growing conditions. The seeds had also been in frozen storage before I got them to keep them viable, not fresh seed.

        Kelly reports that by no means all flowers produce viable seeds. He even speaks of flowering events, because flowering isn't always so prevalent. I can't complain I had 15 flowering shallots (which I separated from their not flowering siblings and transplanted as a group) and a good bag of seeds. However by no means all of them germinated. I currently have babies from seed, but also a lot of ungerminated seed. My seed was produced in 2013 and some of the viability may be reduced because I did not get around to sowing these last year, but a level of seed sterility may be a bigger factor - and of course some of the seed might still germinate, it's early days yet. Nevertheless, I have little babies at the crookneck stage, and we will see whether they produce single 'Giant Shallots'. Kelly suggests that these will be very different from the original, like any F2 generation, and will split into clones when replanted. Selection time for the largest F2s - yay!

        By the way, both of Kelly's booklets are work in progress and will be updated continually, so it is worth checking back. Kelly's literature list:
        https://sites.google.com/site/kellys.../potato-onions

        Sorry Jayb, I should have followed up your mention of potato onions properly, but I did not appreciate at the time that potato onions could propagate like this. Today a few chance remarks on the Allotments 4 All forum has led to a lot of answers Big Grin So good when something like this happens. Thank you Robert Brenchley and Squeezyjohn! http://www.allotments4all.co.uk/smf/...html#msg798438



        Last edited by Galina; 16-03-2015, 09:51.

        Comment


        • #6
          Have been trying to remember more about how I got the giant shallots seeds and recall that they came from the seed swap pages of the Heirloom Gardening yahoo gardening group. I wish I had made better notes when these seeds actually came to me - my bad! However in 2004, Rose-Alene McArthur commented on the same gardening list:

          "Oct 12, 2004 The giant shalott is one I raised out to seed for Seed Savers this year. I
          don't have the information about the person who sent it to me at my
          fingertips right now"

          So it wasn't perhaps quite as early as the last millenium, but probably within a year or a few years of this group post. My anonymous donor was quite likely Rose Alene, as nobody else has mentioned being a source for these seeds.


          https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/.../messages/2856

          Just hope that the seeds I swapped for these shallots proved as beneficial as the Giant Shallots here.
          Last edited by Galina; 15-03-2015, 14:40.

          Comment


          • Galina
            Galina commented
            Editing a comment
            And my enquiry on the heirloom group got a swift reply. The original seed was from Seed Saver's Exchange, called Red Breton Giant Shallot. Yes mine were from Rose Alene and she is still also growing them although she now lives in retirement with only a tiny garden space. How lovely to find out after all this time! Thank you for the suggestion to follow it up. So good to know the original donor and to be able to thank her too.

        • #7
          I've been thinking about your shallots and would have been back to comment sooner if a few things hadn't got in the way. And I can see that this thread has moved on quite a bit, I had come to post about Kelly Winterton, and wonder if related! Kelly has excellent information and ideas. As an off shoot, I have also been wondering at the possibility at crossing a bunching onion with an onion or shallot too!

          I'm so pleased you have been able to track down your shallot variety Red Breton Giant Shallot and the seed donor too - good result.
          Have you saved any seed, I'm really intrigued to how they have done/would do?

          Comment


          • Galina
            Galina commented
            Editing a comment
            Yes I have seed taken in 2013. You are welcome to get a batch, before the rest goes into the freezer - let me know. I have sown seeds this year, not every one has germinated, but I have plenty of baby plants.

        • #8
          Just now the Giant Shallots were looking bonny so I took a photo. On the right Red Sun on the left Giant Shallot. The difference in size is obvious. And when I counted the split-offs I made it nine or ten, which is a record number for any one Giant Shallot plant to date. The others are not far behind either. This is the highest number of 'babies' I have seen so far.
          Last edited by Galina; 08-04-2015, 16:44.

          Comment


          • #9
            Oooh they are very impressive looking and way stronger than Red Sun (I've got a few Red Sun to try this year) Good pictures.

            Comment


            • #10
              You are welcome to get a batch, before the rest goes into the freezer - let me know
              Oooh yes please, if I'm not too late, only just read your comment. I was wondering how much diversity you have had with these?

              Comment


              • Galina
                Galina commented
                Editing a comment
                Did they make it to you? Hope not lost.
                Last edited by Galina; 28-04-2015, 09:23.

              • jayb
                jayb commented
                Editing a comment
                I'm afraid not here yet.

              • jayb
                jayb commented
                Editing a comment
                I Know I emailed, but just in case, yes they have arrived Woo hoo!

            • #11
              Can't really tell yet - apart from some being more yellowish green and others more dark green.

              Comment


              • Galina
                Galina commented
                Editing a comment
                Just to add the more yellow leafed seedlings are still hanging in there, but they are very weak compared to the green ones.

              • jayb
                jayb commented
                Editing a comment
                Most of my yellows have collapsed once they ran out of seed energy, a few of the slightly greener ones are coping, but like yours, weak in comparison to the deep green ones. Seems a little sad.

            • #12
              You know, I'm thinking I might have to plant a few ordinary Golden Gourmet shallots this autumn and see if they flower in the spring. If potato onions are just big shallots, then we could get new varieties pretty easily that way.

              Comment


              • Galina
                Galina commented
                Editing a comment
                Except that you might have a job getting a meaningful amount of them to flower. I had 15 that flowered when I grew them to seed. I harvested the rest for the kitchen, replanted the ones that showed signs of flowering and that worked. They rooted and continued developing their flowers. After they had flowered and set seeds, there was practically no onion left. The plants had exhausted themselves.

              • Silverleaf
                Silverleaf commented
                Editing a comment
                It's worth a try!

            • #13
              Potato onions from sets aren't normally very big, same as shallots aren't. I think both are likely to be bigger if grown from seeds, as in Red Breton Giant Shallot?
              I'm thinking that to get red 'potato onions' I might need to do some crossing. But would they still be potato onions?

              Comment


              • #14
                Unless you crossed with a different species, I guess they'd be potato onions, or giant shallots, or whatever you want to call them.

                Crossing with another species is actually possible. I was reading that Egyptian Walking onions came from a hybridisation with the Welsh onion.

                Comment


                • #15
                  Are there any proper red/purple shallots? I've seen pinkish ones, but not red, but then I don't know much about them.

                  Comment

                  Working...
                  X