Growing Leeks

Growing Leeks in Your Vegetable Patch

I think nearly every vegetable gardener is growing leeks. It’s a very nice and hardy vegetable to grow in any vegetable garden.

Most leek varieties are pretty hardy and will stay in the ground through the winter time until needed. Some gardeners sow leeks very early so that they can harvest these in the autumn. But really the great thing about growing leeks is that you can pick and eat them the over the winter and springtime when there aren’t as many vegetables around.

Growing Leeks – Soil

Pick a spot that you are happy to have in use for many months that’s because growing leeks can take quite some time anything from 30 to 45 weeks – that because leeks are generally left in the ground to be dug up as you need them during the winter/spring months, leeks can stay in the ground for as long as a year.

Leeks are pretty tolerant and will tolerate any reasonable soil. Dig the soil over in the winter and add plenty of well rotted manure or compost. Its best to start growing leeks in a sunny part of your garden.

You can sow leeks in individual module seed-tray. Fill the tray with multi-purpose compost and firm down and water. Then take your leek seeds and put 1 or 2 seeds in each module. Cover very thinly with some compost. You can buy them like this from most garden centres.

Personally, I sow leeks direct in the soil and then transplant them. To sow leeks directly make a drill in the soil about 1 to 2cm deep and sow the leeks seeds thinly along the seed drill. Cover the seeds and water the seed drill. The seeds will germinate within 7 to 14 days. Let them grow until the leeks are about 8” tall and as thick as a pencil or slightly thinner. Now you can transplant them.

Sow early leeks indoors at the end of January or beginning of February to plant out in end of April. For main crop leeks sow them at the beginning of March through to end of April to plant out in June or July.

In the spring break the soil down and a couple of weeks before sowing rake the soil and make a fine tilth seedbed and scatter some chicken pellets over the area.

Water the seedbed the night before planting out the leeks. Trim the root ends and also trim the leaves – cut about 3 inches of the tops. Make a hole with a diper about 4 to 6” deep, drop the leek into the hole, after planting water the leeks – this will fill the hole up naturally. Plant the leeks about 6”apart and about 10 to 12” between any rows.

Growing Leeks – Looking after the crop

You will need to water the leek plants especially in dry weather, until they are established. You will also need to hoe between the rows often to keep the weeds down.

Feed the leeks until August – using liquid feed or chicken pellets or any other type of fertilizer.

If you want longer white stems you can blanch the leeks by gently drawing soil around the stem – do this only when the leeks have developed well – from around August. Blanching is a gradual process and should be done in stages, rather than all at once. Do not let the soil fall between the leek leaves as this will cause grittiness when eating them.

Harvesting Leeks

Leeks can start to be harvested from mid-autumn for the early varieties all the way through to late spring.

The later varieties are usually left in the ground until you want to eat them. Use a garden fork to dig up your leeks. Do not pull a leek out of the soil by using your strength – as usually the leek will just break into two.

Many gardeners dig up the biggest leeks first, then let the smaller leeks have some time to grow bigger.

Pests and Diseases

Leek Rust: The leaves will get an orange/rusty look and it gets powdery spots on the leaves.

Onion Fly: The leek plant will get yellow, drooping leaves and you see tunnels in the leek plant.

Smut: Black spots and blotches appear on the leaves.

I hope this article encourages you to start growing leeks for autumn or winter.

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  1. Great blog. thank you!!

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