Shallots, the mild-tasting onions favored by the French, can be expensive to buy at the grocery store but grow easily in a home garden. If you can grow onions, you can grow shallots. All you need is well-drained soil, rich in organic matter, plenty of moisture and a few shallot sets from the grocery store. Shallots mature over the course of one summer, producing a set of small onions, rather than one large onion. Harvest them for use in sauces or savory dishes but save a few to plant for the following spring.
Buy French shallots from the grocery store. Look for shallots that have firm, dry skins and are heavy in size. Avoid those with soft or sunken spots. Make sure you are buying true French shallots, rather than multiplier onions, which do not taste like shallots.
Pull apart the shallot clusters to form individual bulbs. Some vendors sell individual shallots, rather than clusters, eliminating this step.
Spread 3 inches of compost over the garden area. Dig it into a depth of 8 inches with a shovel. Plant shallots in early spring as soon as the soil is soft enough to work. Plant them 2 inches deep, with the pointed end up, and 6 inches apart.
Water the soil frequently to keep it evenly moist but not soggy. Pull weeds by hand early because shallots don't compete well with them. A weedy garden bed diminishes yields.
Harvest shallots in the fall when the leaves have died back. Dig them up, brush off the earth and allow them to cure in a dry location for several days. Store them in mesh bags or baskets.