Hi Verdun, Yes, the shallot bulbs will send out several shoots each and slowly 'split' with usually 6-8 new bulbs forming in a circle, so I grow them about 8-10 inches apart. Like onions, they're greedy plants so give them plenty of feed. I usually trowel a bit of fish, blood and bone into each planting position. Given a reasonable summer, they can produce a really good crop!
With onion sets I just push them into the prepared soil as they are small. Shallots are bigger so I plant them with a trowel leaving just the tips showing and I leave more room between them. They grow really well here. Rewarding to harvest.
I'd get them going as soon as possible. Christmas is the traditional time to plant them.
Shows I'm a bit on a different timetable to the UK. In Dordogne the winters can be very cold and the summers very hot, so I plant shallots March/April. In fact, the RHS says from mid Nov to mid March, so lots of flexibilty.
one of the best crops to plant in my book, have you SEEN the price/kilo of shallots in the supermarket? It's essentially how I decide what to grow, the things we eat the most, and how expensive they are in the shops against the difficulty. I find shallots very very simple to grow, and they go great in caseroles stews, most things!! Plant in well prepared ground about 8-10 inches apart and keep watered and weeded, that's it!!
I don't even know the prices, I have been saving them, for planting, from the previous year for years.