Author Topic: A diverse patch of shallots  (Read 2768 times)

Steph S

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Re: A diverse patch of shallots
« Reply #15 on: 2019-11-17, 03:20:13 PM »
Hi Doro.   It sounds like we have a similar climate but opposite problems!   
There are some articles written about how to get shallots to flower.
This one is about short day shallots, but observations are similar to other studies of shallot flowering:
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/288283897_Flowering_physiology_and_some_vegetative_traits_of_short-day_shallot_A_comparison_with_bulb_onion
Maybe useful:  "Shallots can be induced to flower by cold treatment in storage, the optimum temperature being 5-10°C, whereas high and intermediate storage temperatures delay the development of the inflorescence. During growth, high temperatures may suppress already initiated inflorescences. Plants from larger sets flowered more readily than those from small ones, and genotypes varied significantly in their response to cold induction."
Another one looked at induction of flowering in F1 shallot cultivars.   I believe this is the same one that used long cold treatments during growth (up to 90 days) to induce flowering, with temperatures 12 C and lower being more effective over 60-90 days (iirc) depending on cultivar.  From my notes they also commented that "Under  optimal  vernalizing  temperature,  small  bulbs  show  little  or  no  bolting  while  sensitivity  to  bolting  increased  with  bulb  size".   
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/4e40/f105e649c0faa088bad6e9a9139432bd771a.pdf
So if I were you I would try putting a few larger bulbs into cold storage for the winter, and then plant them in the coolest, shadiest part of your garden - maybe extra early as well, to try and get 60 days in at lower temperatures. :)
I'm pretty sure my shallots survived winter only because they didn't bulb.  The immature form of a clump without bulbs seems to be as hardy as any green onion or chives.   Fall planting of bulbs hasn't been good with other shallot varieties here.
I'd be happy to share seeds if you want to try a cross with them.  I'm assuming they will survive this winter and will flower again if I let them, so there will be future seeds as well.

Steph S

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Re: A diverse patch of shallots
« Reply #16 on: 2019-11-17, 04:09:31 PM »
Doro, here's one more paper I found about bulb size and storage temperature for true seed production.   Similar results re bigger bulbs and cold storage:
http://agro.icm.edu.pl/agro/element/bwmeta1.element.agro-a176b5cc-1eb3-46f5-ad77-86e360ca8830
Hey, from your comment in the soil discussion, you could use sawdust to keep the ground cold too!   ;) 

Doro

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Re: A diverse patch of shallots
« Reply #17 on: 2019-11-18, 05:14:05 AM »
Yes I think we are both suffering from similar climates ;D
After reading all of the links, measuring temperatures in various places of the house and rethinking my regular shallot growing and storage regime... I'm getting an idea of why my shallots never flower in regular growing conditions. And why my experiments to induce flowering in a few sets were unsuccessful.

I always eat the biggest ones lol only medium to small makes it into storage. Storage is warm, at regular room temperature 16-20C in my house. The medium ones are the ones for planting and planting time is around the same time as potatoes. At least 8C soil temperature and from then on it warms up quickly in the full sun spots where I'm planting the shallots.
That's how I learned that shallots should be stored, planted and grown. Which, when thinking about it, is all aimed at optimum bulbing and avoiding flowers that reduce the edible harvest. Makes total sense.

My attempts to induce flowers did involve starting them indoors in a cool room. But the used sets were too small and stored too warm before planting. After the starting phase in the cool guest room I planted them into places that got too warm over the summer too. Photoperiod was also way too long by then.
Sadly I do not know which variety of potato onion I'm growing. I don't remember where I got it from. But it could be one of those that are reluctant to flower.

I'll see if I can hunt for other varieties of potato onions and find out which one I'm growing.
I just went through the stored ones and took the last 7 big ones into the unheated guest room. It's at 14C at the moment, but it should drop under 12C soon. After a month at 12C I'll just plant them and grow them at the window. I am thinking that they have to start bolting early in spring already, before days are getting too long.

Steph S

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Re: A diverse patch of shallots
« Reply #18 on: 2019-11-18, 07:27:26 AM »
You're probably further north than we are - our longest day is just short of 16 hours.    ::)  So we don't get much daylength compensation for being cloudy wet and cold.
I found another article about flowering genetics in shallots of Indonesia.   They identified 5 alleles and three different groups - freely flowering, inducible flowering, and non-flowering.    In your climate, they may well have selected for non- or barely inducible varieties because of course that's how you will certainly get your bulbs, even in the cool.   They sound really early as well .   Those are ideal genetics for a northerly shallot, and will be great to breed with if you do get seed. :)
http://sabraojournal.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/SABRAO-J-Breed-Genet-50-3-313-328-MARLIN.pdf
I'm going over my data and thinking about which ones I should focus on.    Since all of mine came from seeds in the first place, they are all either 'freely flowering' or 'inducible'.  I did have two outliers that produced very reduced flowers, and only one of them produced a few seeds.   They both had very thin and profusely divided stems, pale lime- green leaf, and some leaves were even flat.  Interesting but not that promising from the pov of getting a good sized bulb. 
I'm also looking at some that flowered later as being (possibly) a bit resistant to being 'induced'.
OTOH I found at least three research papers that correlated plant height with size of bulb, which means the tallest ones would be most likely to produce a good crop.   But I don't want to miss something special by only going down that road.  ???

Doro

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Re: A diverse patch of shallots
« Reply #19 on: 2019-11-18, 03:10:43 PM »
If in doubt keep all of them ;D can't grow too much onions! Especially when they keep a long time like potato onions usually do.

My longest day is almost 19h, but I'm grateful that it's not midnight sun :P our winter days are awfully short, but at least it's not dark all day.

I have been reading some about our local heirloom potato onions. There is a variety that is reported to flower on occasion, which sounds promising. Now I just need to find someone who has them and knows what variety they are... most times they just get traded between gardeners as potato onions without a variety name or location of their origin.

The ones that I'm growing are smaller than French shallots from the store. The plants also have fewer leafs than what is reported in the papers. They are quite short too. I never measured their hight or counted leafs, but I'd say 5 leafs and just about 20cm high. Typically I only get 6 bulbs per cluster. Maybe their earliness is connected to small plants with short leafs. It could be just my photoperiod though and they could look different when grown further south. A lot of plants do odd things when grown here.

Steph S

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Re: A diverse patch of shallots
« Reply #20 on: 2019-11-18, 03:56:14 PM »
It's really helpful to hear about your shallots!   8)
Good to know that a nice sized bulb can come from a short plant - they don't have to measure up to store shallots for me.   The most important thing is whether they bulb at all, but I didn't know if the smallest might have bulbs that are really tiny.   I have lots of plants that were on the short end.   The short bushy ones were so cute, we wanted to keep them for flower borders if nothing else. 
Also re the number of divisions, I was already thinking that fewer may be better, because the best advice to grow from true seed is to plant densely enough that they don't divide at all, and get a single bulb from each.   The rationale is that the plant from seed doesn't have enough time/energy to produce bulbs if you give it room enough to multiply - that is in theory why I didn't get any bulbs in year 1.  It may be that those with fewer divisions are the best candidates for a shallot that I can get bulbs from by planting a bulb in spring that is allowed enough room to divide.   For a cold climate and short season, that might actually be the thing that works.
I estimated the clump sizes by number of flowers - the biggest clump had 34 flowers.  :)They were continuing to multiply all season, so even though the flowering stalks died back, the clumps are bigger than ever.   :o  Assuming that they do survive the second winter, I will certainly try to separate a few from each plant to try and force them to bulb for me.


Doro

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Re: A diverse patch of shallots
« Reply #21 on: 2019-11-20, 03:28:39 AM »
That's such a beautiful look! I bet you got many questions about these beautiful flowers ;D my neighbours asked me this year what these giant ball flowers were and if the bulbs were expensive. Nope, just regular spring onions and kitchen onions.
Did you try eating the greens? They look so lush and full that, even if they do not bulb, they should be great for eating them like spring onions.
I'm normally planting mine 20cm apart to get bulbs. I'll crowd some of them next year, to see if they show a reaction in terms of seed heads or more greens instead of bulbs. Thinking about it I had crowded my spring onions once and the appearance of the plants was so different than normal. The normal ones are quite thick with long white parts and do not divide from the base unless I harvest them. The crowded ones had lots more leafy parts, less white base and made new shoots from the base like crazy.

Steph S

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Re: A diverse patch of shallots
« Reply #22 on: 2019-11-20, 06:33:02 AM »
I would definitely keep them for the flowers alone.  :-*  I  was already growing up some more Hardy Evergreen to plant around for those early flowers, but the shallots fill that same gap for the bumblebee queens when there's not much else in flower.
I only tasted the shoots late summer when I realized they weren't going to bulb.   Delicious garlicky taste near the base, but they were super tough.   Even chopped up fine they were like bits of leather in your dish.  :P  So I'll have to try them in spring instead.

I found another comment last night re: number of divisions, from a growout of Green Mountain potato onions from true seed.  She said:
"My ideal multiplier divides into 3-6 medium onions. The ones that divide into 8-12 bulbs are just two small to bother peeling in my opinion."
https://www.experimentalfarmnetwork.org/project/23

So I could see this going in two directions (1) to select those with fewer divisions for lines that will be planted from bulbs in spring, and (2) see what happens with spacing plants from true seed.   If the tight spacing is enough to suppress multiplying and produce bulbs, then the taller plants might be the best producers by true seed method.     If I can find a strategy that works well from seed, it would be just perfect to have a large patch of perennial favorites to bloom, feed the bees, and make seed every year. :)

Ferdzy

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Re: A diverse patch of shallots
« Reply #23 on: 2019-11-20, 02:53:12 PM »
Wow, those are amazing. The photos look more like chives than allium cepa, but far more variable than I've ever seen in chives.

Steph S

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Re: A diverse patch of shallots
« Reply #24 on: 2019-11-20, 04:11:17 PM »
The resemblance to chives is actually a bit of a sore point, since I didn't get any bulbs.  :-[    They looked more like shallots in spring when they were small enough to see the stem colors.   And then the different colored buds came on, which are really diverse and pretty.  ;)  Most of the buds were quite round although a few were more pear shaped like the chive.   It's also true that by the time they were in full flower, the difference in petal color was very subtle if any.   ::)  We had red onion sets that bolted one year, and their flowers were the same color.  But of course, no clump there to make them look like chives. 
There's no diversity in chives at all.  I looked into it, and the one that I have from my grandmother's garden is identical to every other chive in existence.  (Chinese chives are a different thing and don't count.)    The taste of chives is really distinctive though.   There's no hint of chive in these ahem lovely shallots.  ;) 

triffid

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Re: A diverse patch of shallots
« Reply #25 on: 2019-12-11, 09:31:48 AM »
Your chive-like shallots are beautiful Stephen  ;) I think there may be more diversity in chives than we're led to believe. There are many accessions in European genebanks and they definitely have phenotypic differences, though they are only slight and not the wildly different forms we see in other Alliums.

I've been quietly following this topic with great interest as I'm preparing for a shallot/multiplying onion project myself. I've also read through cover-to-cover the old Allium posts on Homegrown Goodness. Frustratingly, seems to me that there is no consensus for the definition of the shallot. It would appear to be a name given to many different bulbing Allium spp. that divide vegetatively at the base, varying by culture. Puzina 2013*, states “The term ‘shallot’ in Croatia denotes three genetically and morphologically different, vegetatively reproduced relatives of the common onion, Allium cepa, which are mainly traditionally cultivated for consumption and as a spice: A. cepa Aggregatum group, A. × proliferum and A. × cornutum”.  *Shallots in Croatia – genetics, morphology and nomenclature.

A. cepa Aggregatum group includes potato/multiplier onions, and it's mostly from here that my confusion stems, as some insist potato onions are different from shallots, but do not explain in which way they differ.
A. x proliferum is the tree onion/walking onion, a hybrid of A. cepa and A. fistulosum.
A. x cornutum is the triploid child of three parents, A. cepa, A. pskemense, and A. roylei. The onion of Sint Jans or Johannes' shallot is A. x cornutum.

The famous Eschalote Grise, or French grey shallot is yet another species, A. oschaninii. I wonder if the Sainte-Anne shallot is this species, or possibly A. x cornutum?

In addition, what gardeners call shallots is often different from what supermarkets call shallots. And what French chefs call shallots is another matter.

Where does this leave my brain? I'm trying to focus less on what is a 'shallot', instead collecting and breeding Allium species which vegetatively reproduce, and yield bulbs which can be stored. Many of these will not produce fertile flowers, but the A. cepa Aggregatum varieties should, so I will be practicing my coercion skills.

Can anyone fill me in with any details on an old shallot variety 'Ouddorpse Bruine'? I bought it from a UK seed company but they have nothing much to describe, apart from the fact that it is extremely long keeping.
It is maintained by The Court of Eden Utrecht - I tried to reach them but their contact form is busted!
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Ferdzy

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Re: A diverse patch of shallots
« Reply #26 on: 2019-12-11, 03:29:18 PM »
Triffid, I've fallen into the bad habit of referring to potato/multiplier onions as shallots. I'm pretty sure the original definition said that if it wasn't allium oschaninii, it wasn't a shallot. At least according to the French. I tend to mean, as you say, any onion that divides vegetatively at the base. Or to put it another way, all shallots are multiplier onions, but not all multiplier onions are shallots.

I think where any attempt to keep this definition tight fell down was when Dutch breeders crossed some traditionally non-seed producing multiplier onions with regular onions, in a lucky break back in the 1990s, and created the "hybrid shallot seed" industry. As a cook, I remember very clearly that prior to that, shallots were hard to find and very expensive when you could find them. Now shallots are no more expensive than onions... because they basically are onions.

I do look for a certain flavour in a shallot (or "shallot") both milder and a little more garlicky than regular onions. I've been trying hard for at least 6 years to get my hands on some genuine allium oschaninii and not having much luck. Dianne has sent me some that I think might actually be right, but I will find out next year.  :P The goal is to compare my seed-grown plants and see just how much resemblance there is.

I also just received some seeds from Steph, and I have to say even the seeds are intriguing - they are smaller and narrower than any onion seeds I've grown; quite distinctive. I'm agog to see these things in the flesh. Also next year.  :P

I purchased échalot de Ste Anne and looked at as many pictures of it on-line as I could find - not many. I am certain they are not allium oschaninii as they seem to flower for people quite regularly, producing viable seeds or bulbils (not clear. Seeds, I think.) One site referred to them as allium ascalonicum but when you search that, it is an out-dated term and has been folded into allium cepa.

Lauren

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Re: A diverse patch of shallots
« Reply #27 on: 2019-12-11, 06:25:38 PM »
I am certain they are not allium oschaninii as they seem to flower for people quite regularly, producing viable seeds or bulbils (not clear. Seeds, I think.)
I had one onion a few years ago that had both. I'm not sure why it happened that way, but it seeded fully and had three large bulbils as well.

Ferdzy

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Re: A diverse patch of shallots
« Reply #28 on: 2019-12-12, 07:50:03 AM »
I had one onion a few years ago that had both. I'm not sure why it happened that way, but it seeded fully and had three large bulbils as well.

The more I grow alliums the more I see how they all resemble each other. It's very common for onions to form bulbils amongst the seeds. Leeks grown in a certain way (or certain strains of seeds?) form bulbs that look like garlic. I grew some onions (regular allium cepa) that had been bred for green onions so they never bulbed and ended up looking amazingly like leeks. (Tough as string, though.)

Dividing things into separate species is never as neat a job as humans would want it to be, and I would speculate that domesticated alliums are perhaps a bit more mixed up, and have been from the beginning, than what we know.

triffid

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Re: A diverse patch of shallots
« Reply #29 on: 2019-12-17, 11:15:29 AM »
I purchased échalot de Ste Anne and looked at as many pictures of it on-line as I could find - not many. I am certain they are not allium oschaninii as they seem to flower for people quite regularly, producing viable seeds or bulbils (not clear. Seeds, I think.)

I also thought Allium oschaninii was one that didn't flower, but since have discovered that they do, or at least the accessions of IPK Gatersleben produce flowers. Maybe the Echalote Grise cultivar has lost this ability. So if 'Ste Anne' flowers, this may not rule it out from being A. oschaninii, but perhaps producing viable seeds or bulbils does. A. x cornutum produces flowers and bulbils.
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