Leeks… How to grow them.

Apparently the new superfood, so TOWPCOE says. I have been growing leeks now for a few years, very satisfying, not a lot of work and something lovely to eat in the horrid winter months (as long as the ground is not frozen).SL701737 This was a particularly lovely one, look how the leaves fan out, just like the ones on the seed packet, they’re not all so perfect! We’ve had a couple this weekend, one in a ‘special’ cauliflower cheese also with bacon, the other steamed with some cabbage. We eat as much of the green parts as possible too, they taste lovely a shame they don’t travel so well so you don’t often get them with greens intact at the shops.
So buy some seedlings, (they look like thick blades of grass) or sow some seed. The books say wait until they are pencil thick to plant then out, I have found that they don’t get that thick in the seed tray and seem to plant out well much smaller. One year they developed little bulbs at the bottom as I was waiting for them to get big enough, they didn’t work as well that year.
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I use my dibber as I don’t have very deep soil, sink it to the hilt and twist it out to leave a nice hole. The soil needs to be quite wet so it stays as a hole, too dry and the sides will fall in! Then pop a leekling (don’t now if that’s a word) in, I have tried trimming the roots or putting them in with all that I can untangle, it doesn’t seem to make any difference, it’s easier to get them in the holes with less root, but takes time to trim, trim to about 2-3 cm if you are doing that. The holes are around 15 cm apart, further apart may give you bigger leeks. These went in the ground mid June, about 100 of them, (some didn’t survive). Then give them a good water to get a bit of soil round the roots, but the holes should stay. I have some netting on a wooden frame covering them to stop the chickens digging them up.
SL701187small By late summer they look like this, once they’re big enough they don’t actually need protection from the chickens and visiting pheasants but the onions and broccoli at the far end did and are by this lovely temporary fencing I invested in this year. The onion sets that went in a bit late and haven’t done a lot yet, maybe they’ll get going when the weather starts to warm up!
There is some self sown feverfew in the foreground along with a parsnip that went way too woody and then to seed, Bob Flowerdew said that he gets better germination from self seeded parsnips, I don’t seem to have had that luck so far, but maybe this spring will prove him right.

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