The weather here has been horrendous for the last 4 weeks so there has been nothing done outside. Normally at this time of the year I would have all my barrels emptied and re-filled ( I do this by emptying one barrel on the floor and then empty the next barrel into the empty one). This gives you air into the sand and lets you remove as much of the old core as possible. However the barrels and the beds in the tunnels are frozen solid - so thats out!!. So I have been turning my attention to shallots. In 2011 I will be growing around 140 Hative de Niort for the large exhibition class and around 50 for the "pickling" class where they have to be under 30mm. I had good success this year with shallots culminating in winning the Scottish championships, but have never grown the small ones - so it will be interesting to see what happens. My shallots are stored in trays of sawdust which I have used for a number of years - and which gives me little to any losses(touch wood!!!) They are normally stored in one of my sheds but the temperatures have just been too low for too long to take any risks , so they are in the greenhouse I keep at 1 degree for my pom tubers. I start my shallots off in 2.5 litre pots of Levington M3 compost around the 18th January - but I will go through this process in more detail when I start them. At this time I am looking for the shallots that have the best size and shape - I will probably have around 80 this time that are about 50-55mm and good shape- so they will be the ones I am banking on. The rest will still give good shallots and will be used if they are OK.Having never grown pickling shallots it will be trial and error with me - but I have about 60 or so small shallots that I will use for this class.