Growing Leeks – How to Grow Leeks
How to Grow Leeks
Allium ampeloprasum porrum
Although leeks remain in the ground a long time they are useful plants even for small gardens because they can be spaced fairly closely and crop late. They are hardy plants and easy to grow. The part we value for food is not in fact the stem but a series of tightly wrapped leaves.
When growing leeks, they may be grown from seed or from bought plants. Sow 12-20 mm (½-¾ in) deep in a prepared seed bed, and thin out later so that there is room for the seedlings to develop 50-60 mm (2 – 2½ in) apart.
If you use a frame or cloches you can sow in late winter to early spring; if unprotected, sow from early to mid-spring, depending on the weather. Larger subjects transplant better, so the earlier you can sow the better. Transplant when the plants are about 200 mm (8 in) high, in early to mid-summer. The seed bed should be moist when you lift the seedlings.
Transplant (or plant your bought leeks) into holes about 150 mm (6 in) deep made with a dibber; the plants should be 200-250 mm (8-10 in) apart, whether in rows or blocks. Drop each plant into its hole and water it well in — noneed be added. Some gardeners shorten the leaf tips to prevent them flopping over and rotting or being pulled into the ground by worms.
The soil for leeks should have been well prepared for a previous crop, and with compost dug in after that crop was cleared. Keep the soil weed-free and moist.
Leeks have a tendency to bolt. If the ‘stem’ is reasonably thick, however, you can snap off the appendage holding the buds at the end of the flower stem; with luck the leek will remain edible for a while. However if the ‘stems’ of bolted plants are thin they will be tough and poor flavoured, and the plants should be dug up and composted.
When you are growing leeks, harvest when the plants are of a sufficient size, or leave them in the ground until required.
Pests and diseases: see How to Grow Onions and Shallots
Recommended varieties: ‘Autumn Mammoth’ varieties; ‘Blue Solaise Medola’, blue-green leaves; ‘Giant Winter’ varieties; ‘Lyon-Prizetaker’; ‘Musselburgh’ varieties
Sow: Late winter to early spring if protected; early to mid-spring if in the open
Harvest: When required