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I live in Montgomery Alabama and I planted shallot sets and garlic cloves at the end of September '07. The top 20% of the shallots have turned brown and the garlic is still mostly green. What should I look for to know when to dig them up? I read somewhere to use the back of a rake to knock the garlic over and then wait a month to dig them up. Is this correct, and if so, how do I know when to knock them over. Is the same thing true for shallots? I'm really in a quandry, what is my next step?
Bob, your shallots may be turning brown due to lack of water, erratic watering, high heat, etc. However, if you think that is not the case I wouldn't try to resolve it. Shallots should be harvested when the tops have died down completely, on their own and not knocked down.
As for your garlic, let the tops begin to yellow, DON'T knock them down. (Again, yellow is the color you are looking for, not brown.) Once they are yellowing you can fork the bulbs out of the ground. Let them cure in a shady place with good air circulation; when the top growth is dried you can then either remove it or use it to braid the bulbs together.
What you've read about knocking down the tops refers more to onions, not shallots or garlic. And I would never recommend you leave them in the ground for a month, especially in your area as they'll rot in your hot soils.
Shoe, if I wanted to use some of my small shallots as starters for my next crop, what would I do? Let the tops go brown, then replant the small ones? Or take the small ones while the tops are green, and replant in another spot?
I never would've dreamed I could be so confused by a vegetable... :)
Howdy, Jill...Yes, you can plant you smaller ones if you like for next year's harvest, either letting them mature first (tops die/yellow/brown) or if they are tiny and have green growth still then you treat them like onion plants, setting them out directly.
Remember though, planting the smaller ones will tend to give you smaller bulbs the next year while planting the bigger ones will give you bigger bulbs.
Now about that confusion of yours (*grin), no need to be! Heck, in some areas you can just have a perpetual shallot bed, leaving some of your bulbs in the ground and letting them multiply; as time goes by harvest what you like, always leaving some in your bed to continue their propagation.