We are always experimenting at College its one of the things I find most interesting and learning about different forms of propagation has expanded my horizons. Air layering, stool layering, various types of cuttings and what can be divided will enable me to add so many more plants to the garden without having to reach into my pocket, except for my secateurs.
Twin Scaling was not something I had tried before. For those like me who had not come across this term it is a method of propagating bulbs by cutting them into pieces, retaining a part of the basal plate (the bottom part of the bulb), sterilising them and putting them in a sealed plastic bag with Vermiculite in a dark warm place. If all goes well the pieces should form small bulblets which can then go on to produce viable flowering bulbs in a couple of years.
I have propagated Lilly bulbs from the scales that form on the outside of the main bulb and this would be the same principle. However we tried propagating shallot bulbs in a simpler way by dividing the bulbs, one bulb we cut into 4 sections and one into 8 sections. Shallots are far quicker to propagate and without any sterilising, plastic bag or Vermiculite we just planted them in pots of potting compost. Within a couple of weeks all 4 sections and 7 out of 8 sections of the other shallot produced growth just like a regular shallot. It was only 7 out of 8 as we discovered one section had been planted upside down!
Shallots are not particularly expensive but getting 4 or even 8 sprouting from just one bulb seems amazing to me. We have a theory over why the shallots don’t require a fungicide and that is their high natural Sulphur content. Sulphur is often used as a diseases control on fruits, vegetables and flowers effective against powdery mildew, rust, scab, brown rot, rose black spot and many more.
So I bought some French Gourmet Shallot bulbs and I now have a few pots sitting outside with pieces of shallots. I haven’t risk all of them but I have 18 pieces from just 4 shallots which if they work out will be added to.
I have a particular penchant for pickled onions and can never grow enough but if this works out I could have at least 4 times more than I had last year putting me well in the pickle.
Wish me luck