I’m growing more alliums than usual this year, but not quite as many shallots. It wasn’t my choice to grow fewer, but last year was so wet that many of the shallots began to rot before their tops even considered beginning to topple. And, many of them were triples in one skin, which don’t store well, so there weren’t as many to plant come fall. I experimented with dividing some of the triples to plant as separate starts, but the results of that weren’t good, so I won’t be doing that again. Nice, small solid, single bulbs are best, so that’s what I’ll be saving to plant again. I can tell that this year’s crop isn’t going to store exceptionally well either. The “wrapper” is very thin. The shallots were harvested about ten days ago, and allowed to cure on the drying rack in the Lady Cottage, where it’s dry and shaded. I should have been paying more attention, because in this extreme heat, the tops dried more quickly than usual, and they were almost too brittle to braid! It’s a good thing the garlic needed the rack, or I might have really missed that opportunity. But, there are now 7 braids hanging in the Cottage, with a few more small ones that will also be planted in fall, and a few that were obviously not going to keep that have already gone to the kitchen and will become shallot vinaigrette soon.
Eight trays of garlic are on the rack, or propped on something that allows the air to circulate underneath. It also needs to cure out of the sunshine in a dry place for a couple of weeks, and then I’ll braid it as well. If you think it looks messy, you should have seen it when the flats covered the entire floor, before I got the trays of shallots outside to be braided.
Keen-eyed readers will see that it’s not all garlic. The white bulbs with the bright green tops on the floor are cipollini. They will only store for about 3 months, but they will be grilled long before that time period is over. The two flats of green leaves on the second (from top) shelf are “Candy” onions. The top flat on the right are white “Sterling” onions. Over the next week or so, all of these will be braided as well. Not nearly all the onions are ready. The “Red Torpedo” just went into the ground recently after some peas came out. They are not good storage onions, lasting only 2-3 months usually, but I love to cook with them, so they are grown last. Actually, some of the tops of the “Candy” and “Sterling” had not fallen over, but the necks were beginning to be soft, and I needed them to come out.
Succession planting is key to high productivity in the potager, and timing is important. It’s definitely time to plant the bush winter squash: Delicata, Honey Bear, Carnival. So, a few onions were pulled from strategic spots and seeds were planted. By the time the squashes need the room, the peas and remaining onions will be out, but planting the squash could be delayed no longer!
Meanwhile, the Lady Cottage has a decidedly allium “aroma” that unfortunately not even the bouquet of sweet peas can camouflage! The assorted braids will stay in the Cottage (which with its high ceiling and often open windows tends to be a bit cooler than the garage) until autumn, then they’ll be moved to the official allium rack to hang over winter, or until they are all used!