Leeks are one of my favourite winter vegetables, with their subtle onion overtones but they are usually expensive in the shops so let’s have a look at how to grow leeks.
How To Grow Leeks
The first step in growing leeks is to select the variety you wish to grow. It is possible to buy leek plants to plant out in spring but I think it is much more fun to start off your own seeds and then transplant them to the plot when they are big enough.
Another good reason to start them off yourself is the amount of variety this gives you, in one seed catalogue I counted twenty three different varities. By comparison when I looked at pregrown in the local garden centre the label just said “Leeks”, that says it all really.
Always consult your seed packets for specific instructions on how to sow seeds and when. In another post I explain the rule of thumb on seed sowing.
The method I use for leeks is to sow them into a seed tray and keep the compost moist but not saturated. Then after about eight to ten weeks they should look a little like this.
Planting Leeks Out
The first part of this process is to clear the area you have allocated for Leeks ensure that you have removed all weeds and as many stones as possible.
Then with a dibber make a hole roughly four to five inches deep and space them about five inches apart in rows about a foot apart. Wiggle the dibber about to make the hole about two inched in diameter.
The next step is to carefully place the leek seedling into the hole making sure that the roots are at the bottom of the hole.
In the picture above you can see that some of the compost that I started the leeks off in is still attached this is ok but not imperative. What is important however is that the roots are all the way down at the bottom of the hole.
The next step is to gently fill the hole not with soil, but with water. I use a watering can without a rose and just pour water gently into the hole until it is full.
This will wash enough soil over the roots to just secure them in the hole. The leek will then grow to fill the hole and you will have leeks that are white for at least the first four to five inches.
For the first couple of weeks inspect the leek seedlings regularly and if any have been pulled out of the soil (by birds) just replant them. Keep the seedlings weed free and ensure that they are always moist but not flooded and in about Eight or nine months you will be harvesting your leeks.
Leeks are a difficult crop to harvest but with the right tools and a bit of care you will soon get the hang of it.
A garden fork is my tool of choice. Simply insert the fork into the soil a couple of inches in front of the leek and push in as far as you can. then gently prise the fork upwards from the bottom and the leek should come up. Obviously don’t attempt this when the soil is frozen and as leeks keep perfectly well in the soil until the weather warms up (usually about March in my part of the country) leave them in the ground and harvest as and when you require them.