Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden - Chinese proverb

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Allotment Experiments: Echalote Grise

Having given up half of my allotment, I was worried I wouldn't have the space any more for the kind of growing experiments I love to do. Thank goodness for the discovery of Echalote Grise, the strongly flavoured gourmet shallot (aka echalions or banana shallots, a variety I've always wanted to grow) which is planted in the autumn. Isn't it great to find something which can be planted out now?

To the left are some I bought from my local supermarket. Now most books warn about using shop bought edibles as seed. I'd certainly agree with them about garlic and potatoes*, but these British grown shallots look pretty healthy to me. On the right are some sets I bought from Edwin Tucker, a new supplier for me to try** and theirs was by far the cheapest I could find. However, they're still about twice the price of my supermarket ones for around the same number and weight.

Will I get what I pay for? Will proper seed triumph over shop bought? Will I be able to save any of my crop for next year's planting? Let the allotment experiments commence...

Thanks to Karen, who by simply having a packet of culinary Echalote Grise in her house when I visited, provided the kick start I needed to regain my allotment experiment mojo :)

* = my previous experiments have proved just how poor a crop of supermarket sourced garlic can be. As for potatoes, shop bought ones aren't certified as virus free. That's a risk I'm not prepared to take, though I know some plot holders who do.

** = and on first impressions, they're very good with their speed of delivery

9 comments:

  1. Have been thinking about planting these! How timely. Thanks for reminder. They are the best shallots....!

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  2. Petra - I haven't grown them before. I always like to try something new as well as experimenting!

    Esther - they like sandy soil, so you might be able to squeeze some in somewhere?

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  3. I'm growing shallots and garlic over winter this year, too. Mine aren't as flavorful sounding as yours though. Will have to be on the watch for these.

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  4. well you've well and truely sparked my interest

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  5. Your post has reminded me that I bought some 'Echalotes de Bretagne' from a French supermarket in September, for a similar such experiment. Better get a move on so thanks for the nudge VP. Will be interested to in your results.

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  6. Helen - there's garlic and red onions on the plot as well :)

    CS - welcome! Are you going to have a go?

    Anna - we'll have to compare notes :)

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  7. Oooh, this is one experiment I will be watching with great interest. Fancy shallots are one of the things I definitely want to grow, but I can't do it this autumn, no time and probably won't be here to harvest them. But this way I will get the benefit of your experience before I decide whether to plant supermarket shallots or "offical" seeds! You are doing a public service, glad you found your experimental mojo again.

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  8. Janet - I'm really looking forward to this experiment, especially eating the results!

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