Grey Shallot (Allium oschaninii)


Grey shallot is a perennial onion. It is different from French red shallot. Grey shallot is smaller and has hard skin compared to red shallot. In summer 2015 I purchased 7 lbs. of grey shallots from Tesch Family Farms. They sent me 8lbs. so that I could eat some. I ate few bulbs and I planted over 7.75lbs. that fall. The following spring, they grew and multiplied a lot. Grey shallot grows stalks similar to chives in size and height. One bulb produced a cluster of more than 2 dozen little grey shallots in spring. Grey Shallot has extensive roots that don’t decay even after the stalks turn brown and fall over in late summer.  In 2016, I was surprised to see that their roots were still alive in early Fall. So I let them longer in the ground before harvesting some. They multiplied into so many small bulbs that I left many in the ground and harvested the bigger ones. I dried them in the shade fore some weeks and brought them in for eating during winter. The remaining bulbs by spring rotted inside their though skin. The one I left in the ground came back in spring 2017. Bunnies disturbed them a lot and I thought I lost them all. In fall 2017 as I was planting fall crop in the same area, I noticed there were many clusters of grey shallot growing. I dug some clutters and replanted in an area safe from bunnies. I didn’t divide them. Next summer, I would harvest them, dry and replant in fall to see if their size would be any bigger. Grey shallot has hard skin and if cut lengthwise, it is easy to pop the bulb out of the skin.

What I remarked from perennial onions, is that some of them don’t die back to the ground in summer. Therefore, they would be fine to be left in the ground year round. That includes bunching onion, chives, Egyptian onion. These 3 type of onions, stayed alive even during a short period they stop growing in summer. They may not grow new stalks but you know they are not dormant either. On the other hand, perennial onions that die back to the ground, should be harvested, dried, and planted in fall to minimize their lost in my opinion. When they are left in the ground, they are prone to rot in wet weather. That would include French red shallot, potato onion, grey shallot, and l’itoi’s onion. Grey shallot stay alive longer even after the stalks fall over. You cannot pull them out of the ground like regular onion. You have to dig them out. It takes a while before their roots decay. L’itoi’s onion and Grey shallot do well when left in the ground but I believed they should be dug, dry, and planted back for better yield. I would experience different methods with them to see what works for them in my garden.

Grey shallot is hardier than French red shallot and takes neglect better than French red shallot. But it can be twice or three times smaller than French red shallot. It is good in both fresh eating and cooking.


Do you grow shallot? What is your experience?