Fully grown leeks

Fully grown leeks.

06-04-2020Caroline Fuller

My leeks grew!!! I can’t tell you how exciting I find it when I can go into the garden and pick something for dinner. I have always heard that leeks were quite difficult to grow and a bit temperamental, but I planted some seed last year and watched them grow. OK you do have to pamper them a little bit but once the soil is prepared, it’s really not too hard. We have red clay soil and so I added some of our own compost to the area to loosen it a little, improve the drainage and give the ground some nourishment. I started them off in a seed tray, which I put in a sheltered potting area and waited….. I probably squealed a bit when they started to appear!

I nurtured my little seedlings and sang to them to make them grow better… I promise it’s a thing! Apparently, the Royal Horticultural Society did a study on the theory that talking to plants really does help them grow better, the result being that speaking to plants did indeed help them grow; furthermore, the female voice helped plants to grow even better than the male voice. I’m not sure my singing helped them but I am now eating leeks and it keeps me happy. Anyway with the seedlings growing happily to the required size for planting out I realised my folly in that they are fiddly to separate and each one needs careful placing. After a few back breaking hours of making little holes in the prepared planting bed and carefully separating and dropping each newly sprouted leek into it, I realised that it would definitely have been easier to go with the direct sowing method and then just thin the resulting seedlings. A lesson learned. I will say this… watch out for the birds who think it highly entertaining to pluck your hard work out of the ground and fling them to one side! I planted my leeks in late September early October last year and they are ready now. They will stay in the ground quite happily, until they are picked as they do not need to be harvested all at once. Do check on the packet if you want to grow leeks because there are obviously different varieties for different seasons, with some being more appropriate to plant now than others….

How I did it:

Fill a seed tray with compost, water it, thinly spread the seed on to the damp compost and cover with a little dry soil (it will soak up the damp). I always water the soil first when seeding so I don’t wash the seed away or to the side of the intended growing area.

Keep moist and sheltered.

When they are about 5 inches high and easier to handle, use a dibber (something to poke a hole) to make a hole in the ground a couple of inches deep and 3-4 inches apart and big enough that you can just drop the leek into it.

With a leek in each hole, carefully fill each hole with water. The soil will naturally fall back in time.

Bank up the soil around the base as they grow to blanch them.

TO SEED DIRECTLY….

Make a trench a couple of inches deep water it and sew directly into the bottom of it. Cover lightly with soil and thin to about one every 3-4 inches when the leeks start to grow. As they grow, fill in the trench to soil level.

BLANCHING

The most desirable part of the leek to eat is the white part. This part has been excluded from sunlight (blanched). It’s not necessary to do, but to get a larger portion of the leek stalk to stay white, make an even deeper hole and as they grow bank up the soil around them or you can also tie cardboard or some other such thing around each stalk as they grow…. Perhaps use empty toilet rolls…. I say no more.

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