Friday, March 27, 2015

Leeks - A Last Minute Addition

 
I decided, as a last minute addition to the list this year, to try my hand at growing leeks.  I keep seeing such wonderful leeks emerging from gardens in the UK – it’s really inspired me to give them another go after my one attempt, many years ago, that resulted in plants that more closely resembled a green onion, and a small one at that!
 
Leek Selections for 2015
 
I chose both an early & later maturing variety and, since I was starting the seeds rather late, I decided to stick with varieties that would mature in less than 100 days.


Jolant (75 days, William Dam Seeds)
 
Jolant Leeks
Photo Source:  William Dam Seeds
 
This is a quick maturing leek, intended for harvesting over the summer.
 
 
Lancelot (95 days, William Dam Seeds)
 
Lancelot Leeks
Photo Source:  William Dam Seeds
 
Lancelot still matures relatively fast, as far as leeks go.  This variety would be harvested in the fall & is frost tolerant.
 
 
Seed Starting
 
The leek seeds were much smaller than the onion seeds that I pre-germinated, so I decided to sow them directly.  I only have two (12") squares to devote to leeks, so I sowed 6 seeds of each variety into a 3¼” cell – my goal was to end up with 4 seedlings each.
 
It has now been 19 days and I have had good results from Lancelot with 5 out of the 6 seeds germinating.  The Jolant variety, however, was decidedly sparse in it's germination with only 2 of the 6 seeds germinating.  Next time, I think I may try pre-germinating, even with the small seed size.
 
Leek Seedlings - just under 2 weeks
 
Since I was well over a month late in sowing the seeds to start with, I decided to simply leave them as is and neither thin out the Lancelot, nor start any more of the Jolant, leaving me with a total of 7 seedlings.
 
Not a lot of leeks, considering the $5 investment in seeds.  However, I also didn't want to devote a lot of my limited bed space to a crop that may or may not be successful.
 
My notes indicate that leek seeds may last for up to 2 years (vs. 1 year for onion seeds).  I store my seeds in a Tupperware container in my cold cellar and so far, have had no issues with seed longevity.  In this case, however, I want to increase my chances of successfully storing them until next year, so I placed the seeds in an airtight baggie together with a silica gel packet & put them in the freezer.
 
Now let's hope that I am successful enough at growing them that I actually want to include them in the garden again next year!
 
Till next time...
 

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

22 comments:

  1. Good luck with the leeks this year. I've not had great success with them myself.

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    1. Thanks Daphne...It's curious how leeks seem to be such a difficult crop to grow in North America. Maybe it's the moderate, neither too hot nor too cold temps in the UK that make them such a successful crop there.

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  2. I love eating leeks but have never grown them.Hope yours grow well.

    All the best Jan

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    1. Thanks Jan! I've got my fingers crossed!

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  3. I have grown leeks successfully in-ground. Just plant them in a trench and gradually fill it in. Raised beds are more of a challenge. Apparently the trick is to drill a deep hole in the bed and set the transplant in the hole. Just water in, don't add soil. My neighbor in the garden has raised beds and had a beautiful crop of leeks (not necessarily using the technique I described). I think you will do well.

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    1. Well, this definitely does give me some hope! I have seen the method you are talking about for raised beds, where you plant deeply and then water it in instead of back-filling - I think that will be the method I use for this first go-round. We shall see if I end up with leeks or fat chives ;)

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    2. Yep, I'd go with this technique too. I'll be sowing mine in pots soon. Good luck Margaret!

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    3. Thanks Lou - another vote for deep planting & watering in pretty much cinches my decision on how to go about planting my baby leeks.

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  4. I know nothing about leeks. I think I tried growing them many years ago, without really knowing what I was doing. I'm still trying to figure out how to grow good onions, so I will be rooting for your leeks! :-)

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    1. Thanks Dave - I'm excited to grow some and see how large (or not!) I can get them. If nothing else it will definitely be a learning experience!

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  5. I love leeks and the family enjoy them too so it's something I like to grow, so why did I never get round to planting them out last year? I sowed them in plant pots and they languished there for the rest of the year, I've been regretting that all through winter when I could have been harvesting them. I sowed some in pots a couple of weeks ago and I've just sown another couple of pots today, I don't intend to make the same mistake this year. It's disappointing that one of your varieties haven't done very well, I hope the other variety makes up for it in taste.

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    1. Whenever I don't get around to sowing or transplanting seedlings, I always end up regretting it as well. That happened with me last year when it came to succession sowing some lettuce.

      I'm sure I'll end up loving both leek varieties, even if they don't do as well as they should - fresh from the garden, even if not perfect, always tastes the best!

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  6. In certain parts of the UK, growing Leeks is a popular (and competitive) "sport". I can't claim any expertise in this field, but I did manage to get some pretty decent Leeks last year. And they were SO powerful - in terms of smell and flavour. I hope you have similar success!

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    1. Thanks Mark - and I would say that your leeks were a few steps above decent!

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  7. I surely love leeks, and they are awfully expensive to buy in these parts so a great addition to a kitchen garden. I tried once many years ago and did not do well. I do think I'll try again but maybe down the road a bit. Best of luck, I look forward to seeing how yours work out.

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    1. Thanks Susie - your experience with leeks is just like mine then, which is why I'm hesitant to use up more than a couple of squares of bed space for them. If it works out, I'll definitely give them more space next year.

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  8. Probably a good idea to be conservative with your leeks--I'm going all in with all its attendant risks. Good luck!

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    1. Thanks - you are definitely braver than I am!

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  9. I've been growing leeks in the past 3 years, I just start the seeds in mid spring and transplant them when they are big enough to handle, I don't pay much attention to them because they are so slow in growing, but they always overwintered without protection in our region, so I dig them out when the soil is workable the following spring.

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    1. Another leek success story - I don't often hear of those in North America. Hopefully the days to harvest on the varieties I chose are correct & they don't grow at too slow a pace as I doubt they would overwinter in our climate.

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  10. Check your soil pH, leeks require well drained nutrient rich soil with a pH of 6 - 6.8. I add a bit of lime to the area where I plant my leeks.

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    1. I'll actually be growing the onions in one of the new beds and I'm planning on getting their soil tested this year. I think that our area may have alkaline soil, but am not sure. I purchased the soil for my old beds from a different source than the new beds (and it was also quite different in texture too) and the test I did on those beds showed the soil to be alkaline.

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