Apart from broad beans probably the easiest of all vegetables to grow well. February is the ideal month to plant, although any time when the weather is open between December and mid-March, is suitable. Small bulbs often give heavier crops than large ones. As with onions and other root crops, avoid freshly-manured ground. Soil should be well-drained and friable with no lumps. If in poor heart, enrich with compost, hop manure etc. Simply push the bulbs (or ‘sets’ as they are sometimes called) into the soil, leaving only the neck exposed. Space about 6 in. apart, allowing 10 in. between rows. Birds, especially rooks, are very fond of pulling up the bulbs and proprietary bird-scarers should be used as necessary. Weeding and hoeing are the only cultural jobs needed, except the removal of any flower heads. Lift in July during dry weather when the leaves turn yellow or yellowish-brown. Never cut off the leaves close to the bulbs, but allow the latter to dry for a few days and then transfer to a cool, frostproof shed or room, placing in wire or wooden trays until needed. Shallots can be stored on wooden shed floors, although lack of ventilation from below hardly makes for good keeping. There are several forms of shallots but stocks are often mixed. The variety known as old shallot is the earliest and though rather small for market gardeners is useful for amateurs. It is, however, advisable to take your shallots under whatever name they are offered by any reputable seedsman or nurseryman.

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