Easy trick to plant shallots to avoid garden pests

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Similar to onions, shallots are easy to grow in gardens across the UK and are incredibly rewarding. While planting and raising these sweet, bulbous vegetables is easy, they are vulnerable to pests such as squirrels, bugs and birds. However, according to gardening experts, there’s just one simple swap you can make while planting shallots to keep your crop safe from unwanted garden visitors.

Shallots are low-maintenance and easy to grow without experience though seeds aren’t always the best option for some gardens.

The long growing period and small seeds make shallots particularly prone to being eaten or dug up, so it is often better to plant sets instead.

Experts at Beetham Nurseries said: “Sets are immature bulbs that most gardeners prefer to start their onions or shallots from because they are less likely to be attacked by pests and disease.”

Not only are shallot sets less prone to damage while growing, but they also grow more quickly than young seeds.

For the ultimate pest-free crop, experts at First Tunnels recommended planting the immature bulbs in a polytunnel.

They said: “These bulbs impart a delicate onion taste to a variety of dishes, they will also, as an allium, help to repel a wide range of common polytunnel pests.

“Polytunnel growing should reduce the incidence of bulbs being uprooted by birds, which can be a problem with these and other bulbs grown outside.”

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How to plant shallots

Most shallot sets are readily available to buy in early spring and late summer.

According to an expert at Beetham, the best time to plant sets in the ground is the cooler winter months.

They said: “Plant shallot sets 25cm apart in rows spaced 40cm apart any time from the end of November until the middle of March.

“You can ensure that your row is straight by attaching a string to the end of two garden canes and pushing them in at the end of each proposed row.”

Unlike seeds which are easy to sprinkle onto the soil, sets should be carefully placed in your garden.

Do this by slowly pushing each set into a sunny position with well-draining soil.

According to plant experts at Beetham, it is important to compact the soil around each small bulb to prevent the loose dirt from blowing away.

You will need to check each set daily until they start to take root to ensure the shallots are still in place.

Once each row is planted and well watered, it is best to take extra steps to protect shallots left outside of a polytunnel.

Any flowers that appear should be removed immediately to prevent onions from bolting. before they are fully developed.

Riverside Garden Centre also recommended covering the shallot sets with horticultural fleece in bouts of harsh weather and mesh, wired cages to deter birds.

Beetham Nurseries said: “The beauty of shallots is that they can be ready as early as June through to October and stored; many varieties will keep through to the following spring.”

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