Learning how to grow leeks in your vegetable garden should be easy. This vegetable is a relative of onions, but with a milder and more herbal flavor. You can use it for cooking a wide variety of meals, and it goes well with chicken, cheese, and ham. It can also be added to soups, casseroles, and braised dishes.
Leeks are considered a cool-weather crop, which means that the ideal growing temperature for this plant is between the range of 55°F and 75°F. Most varieties of leeks are hardy to Zones 7 or 8, although some varieties can tolerate cooler weather.
So are you ready to learn how to grow leeks in your garden? Here’s everything you need to know.
How to Grow Leeks: Step by Step
Leeks grown at home are far more superior in quality compared to those bought from supermarkets. Thankfully, learning how to grow leeks from seeds is easy. If you will sow at intervals between February and June, you should be able to harvest them around late August. Below is a step by step guide to growing leeks from seeds.
1. Fill the Pots with Soil
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First of all, gather the pots that you will use for growing leeks. Fill the pots with good quality, multi-purpose compost. Press the soil firmly. You can also use seed trays if you do not want to use pots. Scatter the seeds on the soil and cover them with some compost. Then sprinkle a small amount of water to keep the soil moist.
2. Transfer the Seedlings
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After about 14 to 21 days, the seeds will start to germinate. Transfer each seedling into a separate pot. Gently remove the seedlings from the pot where they were originally grown. Carefully pull the root ball apart then transfer it into a much bigger pot or container that’s filled with soil. Cover with compost after planting the seedlings.
3. Transplant into the Ground
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When the leeks are about 15 to 20 cm tall, transplant them into the ground. Prepare the ground soil to ensure that your leeks will grow with no issues. Fork the soil to take away any of the large stones and debris. If possible, add some well-rotted manure into the soil to improve texture and encourage fertility. Garden compost can also be used if rotted manure is not available.
Use a broom handle to create holes in the ground. The holes should be about 15 to 20 cm deep and about 15 cm. away from each other. Plant the leeks into each hole.
4. Water your Leek Plants
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After planting, water each plant so the soil is washed in. When watering the plants, direct the water into the soil and not on the leaves. An inch of water each week should be enough. If the soil in your garden is sandy, water the plants more than once each week.
Q1: How to Store Leeks for Long Term?
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A1: Leeks belong to the family of onions and can be added to various dishes to enhance their flavor. To preserve the quality of their flavor, make sure you store leeks properly, especially if you plan on storing them for the long term.
Before storage, brush any excess soil from your newly harvested leeks. Do not wash the leeks yet if you don’t intend to use them. Washing leeks before storage will expose them to moisture that could lead to the development of molds. Avoid trimming the leeks as well because their strong odor could be absorbed by the other foods in storage.
Store the leeks in the fridge as the cold can help to prevent them from yellowing. When storing in the fridge, wrap them loosely in a plastic bag. This is to contain odor and retain moisture. Place them in the crisper drawer of the fridge.
Q2: What can you not Plant with Leeks?
A2: If you want to apply companion planting in your garden, make sure that the plants you choose to grow with the leeks are compatible with them. Since leeks produce a strong scent, they are not a suitable combination for several plants. Certain pests, such as onion maggots and leek moth, would love to make leeks their target. Choosing the right companion plants to grow with leeks can prevent certain types of pests, allowing your crops to grow healthy.
Avoid planting leeks with beans and peas. These crops do not thrive well when grown along with leeks and other members of the onion family. The best plants to grow with leeks are carrots. Carrots are plagued by carrot flies, while leeks with onion flies. If you will plant these crops beside each other, their aromas can repel each other’s pests. Furthermore, since both plants are root crops, they also share the responsibility of breaking up the soil as they grow. Loose soil is good as it allows the leek bulbs to grow even bigger.
Q3: How to Grow Leeks in Toilet Rolls?
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A3: It is possible to use toilet paper rolls when growing leeks from roots. This method is cheaper and more eco-friendly than using plastic pots. First, dig the soil to about 8 inches deep. Add organic matter into the soil, such as manure or finished compost. Choose an area in your garden where the crops will be able to receive full sunlight. Plant the seeds of leeks into the holes. After about two weeks, the leeks will grow to about 6 inches tall and produce at least two leaf sets. That’s when you can add the toilet rolls.
Prepare the toilet paper rolls by cutting them in half. This will produce two tubes of about 2 inches long each. Insert each tube over the leek leaves and slide them down to the shaft and into the soil. Press the tubes into the soil for about 1/2 to 1 inch. Apply fertilizer to the leeks once a week or every other week, depending on the plant’s growth rate.
Q4: How do you know when Leeks are ready to Harvest?
A4: When growing leeks at home, you should know the proper way of harvesting and storing leeks. Harvest leeks once they are already mature enough to use for cooking. Most varieties of leeks would mature after 100 to 120 days of sowing the seed, although some varieties will mature in as early as 60 days.
When the leeks are already mature, they should be around 1/2 to 3/4 inch in diameter. Other varieties can also grow up to an inch or 2.5 cm or more in diameter. The leek is ready to harvest if its white stem, also known as shaft, is about 3 inches or 7 cm long. It is best to harvest them right before they start to widen at the base.
Leeks can be harvested around late summer to early spring, although this also depends on the variety of the crop and the climate. If you live in areas with mild winter climates, the leeks can be overwintered in the garden to be harvested in spring.
Non-hardy leeks should be ready for harvest in 60 to 90 days and will have a milder flavor compared to the long-growing and hardy varieties. Non-hardy varieties can be harvested in summer and fall prior to the first frost.
Q5: Can you Plant Leeks in the Fall?
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A5: Yes, it is possible to plant leeks during the fall when the climate is colder. You can grow leeks from seeds or seedlings during fall. You may start growing leek seeds in a container or pot before fall and transfer them right into the ground during the fall season. But take note that you will only start seeing growth until the early spring season. When the spring season comes, the leeks will make a steady growth allowing you to harvest them just before the hot weather comes in summer. To ensure success, make sure you provide them with adequate compost.
If you love adding leeks to your dishes, you better consider growing these crops on your own. As you see, the steps on how to grow leeks are very easy. Anyone should be able to successfully grow this vegetable crop at home, including those who are new to gardening. Leeks can provide more flavor to your dishes, from stews, soups, braised dishes, casseroles, and quiche. If you have these vegetables growing in your yard, there’s no longer a need for you to go to the nearest supermarket to buy them. You can simply pick them from your garden and you can start cooking!