OK, I have been attempting to get a shallot bed going the last couple years. I chose to go with seeds, but really have had little luck. If I start inside I have had little luck transplanting. I may have not allowed them to get large enough, but I think the bigger issue was weather conditions that tend to go rapidly between cold/wet to hot/dry with drying winds.
I have attempted direct sow, but with very low germination rates. Those have lived, and I am now up to about 10 live shallots, From about 400 seeds over two years. My definition of very low germination, two years and still I will not have enough to harvest for table and still have sets to replant to really get a bed established.
What I am dealing with for background: USDA zone 3, very cold winters, short growing season, and rapid changes from winter to hot dry summer.
At this point, I obviously would have been better off starting two years ago buying sets or even live plants, but now, I want to get the bed going in earnest next year with enough success that I can harvest and use and still have plenty left for ongoing, so I am looking for advise/thoughts on options. I am thinking I could either try earlier with indoor starts, maybe 12 weeks before last frost dates and hope for transplant survival with bigger plants, or should I try starting seeds now in pots and try to get them to single set size and harvest those in fall to get them a cold rest period and plant in spring, or is there another, better option. (No, none of the other gardeners I know raise shallots and have spare sets to share. When I asked, they are more than eager for me to share with them though as when they have tried they had similar results.)
Am I way off base with either approach and is there a better option I am overlooking? Also, in starting from seed, is it better to tight pack and start as a bunch then separate at transplant as nurseries do with onion starts, or give them room?