Leeks

Leeks

The easiest member of the onion family to grow and available for digging all winter. For a good depth of white stem, you will need to transplant the seedlings and earth up.

Soil and position

Almost any soil will do as long as it’s free draining and not compacted. For best results the addition of Levington Organic Blend Farmyard Manure or garden compost is recommended. For solid growth improve soil nutrient levels by applying granules of Miracle-Gro Gro Your Own Vegetable & Fruit Plant Food before transplanting the seedlings.

Seed varieties

  • Early: For an autumn crop sow seeds of ‘Lyon-Prizetaker’ or ‘Early Market’ in late March.
  • Mid Season: For Christmas and New Year crops sow ‘Mussleburgh’ or ‘Snowstar’ in May for transplanting in June.
  • Late Season: For leeks to dig in March and April sow seeds of Giant Winter or Winter Crop in June and transplant in July.

Sowing seeds

Sow seeds very thinly in a shallow drill about 2cm (½in) deep. Cover with soil and water well. When the seedlings are at least 18cm (8in) tall, carefully dig up the plants and transplant immediately.

Transplanting

Rake in a dressing of Gro Your Own Vegetable & Fruit Plant Food and water the soil a day before you are to transplant the seedling. Make a cylindrical hole for each plant with a dibber made from a broomstick or handle and stem from a broken fork or spade. Each hole should be at least 15cm (6in) deep and about 4cm in diameter. Ease roots into the hole and fill the hole with water to settle the roots at the base of the planting hole. Do not fill the hole with more soil.

Care

After a few weeks you can improve the length of white stem by blanching the base of the plant above ground. Wrap about 10cm (4in) of the base of the plant in newspaper and then pull dry soil around the stem to exclude light. Be careful not to introduce soil between the leaves as this can make for gritty eating.

Harvesting

Dig the leeks as required for the kitchen. They will stand throughout the winter without harm. Dig and eat all stems before the end of April or the production of a woody flower stem in the centre of each plant will make them virtually inedible.

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