A Helpful Guide To Planting Leeks
Planting leeks in your garden is a good way to save yourself a little money when you go to the grocery store since they are considerably more expensive than their onion cousins. They are nutritious, flavorful and quite easy to digest. In addition to these fabulous qualities, they are also incredibly easy to grow.
When planting leeks in your garden, you will need seeds, garden trowels, spade, compost makers, bypass pruners, fertilizer and mulch.
- First you will need to choose a location in your garden that can offer plenty of full sun and well-drained soil.
- Work a generous amount of manure and compost into the site location.
- Start your seeds indoors approximately 10 weeks prior to the last frost of the season or you can purchase plants that have been already started from your local nursery.
- Harden off the seedlings when they become about as thick as a pencil, then you can transplant then into your garden.
- When planting leeks, make sure they are between five and eight inches apart. Giving them an adequate amount of room will encourage thick, short stems. If you want the stems thin and long, plant them closer together.
- Using a dibble or the bottom end of a hand rake, create holes that only allow about an inch of the transplant to be exposed.
- Place the transplant in the shallow hold and fill it very loosely with its original soil.
- After planting leeks, provide them with a bit of mulch to help conserve moisture and prevent weeds.
Once a month your plants should be given manure tea and once per week they need to be supplied with an inch or so of water. As soon as your leaks are large enough to use, you can begin harvesting them.
The best part of planting leeks in your garden is when you actually get to harvest them. The tender young ones are delicious eaten raw while the more mature ones are best used in cooking your favorite dishes. You will know that your leeks are ready to harvest when their diameter reaches nearly two inches around. Always measure them from the largest area of their stalk when you are trying to determine their diameter.
Using a garden fork, carefully remove the dirt away from the leek. This is easiest done by placing the fork about four inches deep into the soil at an angle and drag it a bit. Always be very cautious to not lift the leek up or cut the roots.
Gently pull on the leek stalks to remove them out of the ground. If you are having difficulty, you probably need to loosen the soil a little bit more. To remove the dirt, rinse the leeks with cool water. They can be stored in zipper-sealed plastic bags in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.
- Cut the top inch of green leaves away.
- Cut away the root end.
- Remove all of the outer layers by carefully peeling away every layer until you arrive at the white inner layer.
- To expose the layers, slice the leek in half and pull them apart.
- Rinse under running, cool water.
Being related to the onion, leeks see similar problems. They are very prone to pink root, which is a disease that turns the roots pink or red and also stunts their growth. This problem is seen a lot more often with commercial growers rather than local gardeners but it doesn't hurt to buy leeks that are disease resistant and be sure to take the time to rotate your crops every year.