Find out everything you need to know about growing your own leeks.

Adaptable leeks

Leeks are the most undemanding member of all the onion family. They will grow in both very cold areas and tropical climates. In temperate and cold climates seed can be sown from spring to autumn, but in warmer regions it is best to sow in late summer and autumn so the plants can grow in the cooler months.

 

Raising seedlings

Raise leeks outdoors as seedlings in a seedbed. Grow them to 20 cm in height and pencil thickness before transplanting them to the vegetable plot.

Several factors govern the size of a leek crop. The young plants should be as large as possible when they are planted. The soil must be rich and fertile, so add organic matter and a balanced fertiliser before planting and dress regularly with nitrogenous fertiliser or apply liquid feeds every 2–3 weeks. Water regularly and keep the bed free of weeds to encourage quick and even growth.

 

Blanching the stems

In autumn, use a hoe to draw soil up around the base of each plant and its developing stem to exclude light from the stem and increase the length of the blanched part. This is known as earthing up.

 

Careful lifting

Start lifting leeks when they are about 2 cm thick. Ease them out of the soil with a fork, otherwise they may break. Continue lifting the leeks throughout the winter months as you need them. They will keep growing in winter, although only slowly during the coldest months.

 

Baby leeks

Baby leeks

Leek seedlings that are spaced close together (as shown above) will be small and can be harvested and used as baby vegetables or instead of spring onions.

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