I have always managed to grow good shallots, but this year was awful. Are there any special things I should do to get better success e.g. soil wise?
It is possible that your shallot bulbs may need replacing. This can happen after a number of years of separating the smaller bulbs (or cloves as they are often called) and they may have simply run out of steam.
Concerning the preparation of soil for growing shallots, it is imperative that it is well conditioned before planting. Dig in plenty of Daltons Compost and mix with existing soil. Then take a spade or hoe and reduce the soil to a fine tilth (texture) prior to planting.
If there are issues with drainage in your garden, then the soil should be mounded above the existing level to ensure the young shallot bulbs don’t become water logged.
Probably the most common cause of failure when growing shallots is planting them too deeply and in wet soils. Bulbs are best planted 12-15cm apart and should be gently pressed into the soil so that the nose (pointed bit of the bulb) is just beneath the surface of the soil.
Normally shallot bulbs are planted during the months of June and July and this is also when there is a good selection available from garden centres. It is possible to grow them from seed (the seed is very fine) in seed trays and plant out as the seedlings become manageable. Shallots are ready to be harvested when the tops wither and fall over.