Real Men Sow

How to Plant Leeks Out

It’s still not too late to plant leeks, and I’ve been getting mine in this weekend.

Back in March, I sowed the leek seeds undercover, in 15cm pots of multipurpose compost. They’ve been hardening off over the last few weeks, and now they’re pencil thick, the time has come to plant them out.

pencil

I’ve always used the traditional dibbing method to transplant leeks, and this is how it works.

The night before, I water the prepared soil well and firm the surface down.

To plant, I use the bottom of an old wooden post (pictured above), marked with a line at 5 inches so I know when I’m far enough down. I’m not sure what the post was in its former life, but it is about as thick as a broom handle.

Marking a straight line with string, I make 5 inch deep holes with the dibber all along the row. Generally, leeks are sown about 15cm apart, in rows 30 cm apart, but in the spirit of my small growing area, I’m trying to plant them closer this year.

Once I’ve got to the end of the row, I turn out the pot of baby leeks. It helps to have pre-watered the pot, as this holds the soil together. Carefully pull the leeks away.

babyleeks

They’ll have long roots on them, and some people cut them off before planting. I’m guessing this is so the leeks fit nicely in the hole, but it is also said to reduce transpiration whilst they re-root.

Personally, I’ve never snipped the roots off, and my leeks have always been pretty good, so I leave them on.

Gently push the leek down the hole until you feel it touch the bottom. To get the roots right down, you might need to pull the leek up and down a few times, or use another dibbing-type instrument to poke them into place.

Water each hole to settle the roots. There is no need to fill the hole with soil, this will happen naturally with rain and further watering, and allow for the leek to grow into the space.

leekwater

To increase the size of the leek shaft, you can earth up as you would potatoes.

I’ve found that leeks will sit in the ground all through winter without complaint, until you’re ready to pull them up.

And when you do, breathe in and enjoy that wonderfully pungent aroma. :)

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11 Comments

  1. Helle (Helen)June 17, 2013 at 7:21 amReply

    I don’t grow leeks, like you, I only have a small plot and, therefore, try to grow things I cannot buy or that are at their most delicious straight out of the garden – small new potatoes, fresh strawberries or asparagus. I was surprised to see how deep one has to plant the leeks, very nifty that broom handle thing.

    • Jono

      JonoJune 17, 2013 at 8:56 amReplyAuthor

      Hello Helen.

      That’s definitely a great way of deciding what to grow. I also try to include veg that are expensive in the shops too. I was quite surprised how expensive leeks are when I looked into it.

      Have you tried mangetout? You can’t always find them in the shops, and straight off the plant they are a real treat. When I had my allotment, not many of them made it home!

      Some folk go even deeper with their dibbers. There was a guy at the plots who grow for the show, and getting his dibber in was a military operation. Looked like he was using a lump of telegraph pole!

  2. SparrowgrassJune 17, 2013 at 7:27 amReply

    Thank you for this. I did mine last week: my next-door allotmenteer showed me how and loaned me his dibber. I didn’t trim the roots and I found it a bit tricky to get the roots in as they were very long. Well, we’ll see. They look very good, though!

    • Jono

      JonoJune 17, 2013 at 9:05 amReplyAuthor

      Hi Sparrowgrass.

      Thanks for your comment.

      That’s one of the best things about allotments, there is always a friendly person to give you help.

      Being a bit anal about this stuff, I’m tempted in the future to do a row of trimmed roots and a row of not, just to see if it makes any difference!

      Leeks are one of the best harvests, the smell is amazing.

      Enjoy. :)

  3. AdamJune 17, 2013 at 7:00 pmReply

    They are looking nice and healthy.

    I shall be getting my leeks planted out later in the week. I sowed mine into 9 cm pots, probably far too thickly too. Hopefully they will transplant okay, looking a little on the thin side at the moment.

  4. Jono

    JonoJune 17, 2013 at 7:07 pmReplyAuthor

    Hey Adam – reckon they’ll be fine. I’ve planted mine much less than pencil thick in the past and they’ve grown fine.

  5. Chris TJune 17, 2013 at 9:30 pmReply

    This is great advice thanks Jono – I’ve definitely been planting out too early this year (still learning) and I think some of my crops (leeks included) have been struggling as a result.

    Partly it’s due to lack of space – very envious of your greenhouse!

    • Jono

      JonoJune 18, 2013 at 1:02 pmReplyAuthor

      Hi Chris – I try not to get my leeks out too early as I want them in the winter. In the Autumn there is lots to eat on the plot, but obviously not so later on.

      They sit quite happily in the ground, so essentially you get a long harvesting season.

      mine have been really slow to take off.

      Funny about the greenhouse though. I do wish I could move it somewhere else. Its bang in the middle of the plot, and takes up a lot of space. Would be great to be able to shift the thing into an under used corner!

  6. GemJune 18, 2013 at 1:22 amReply

    This is my first year at trying leeks. The leeks seem to be small (spagetti thin) for ages! Reminds me of growing spring onions. They just seem to be taking too long, is this normal?

    (I’m in Melbourne, so it’s winter here. Also, not using a greenhouse but it never snows here.)

    • Jono

      JonoJune 18, 2013 at 1:03 pmReplyAuthor

      Hi Gem,

      You’re not alone with slow leeks. Mine have taken ages to grow this year.

      Give them some time, and I’m sure they’ll be fine. I have planted out thin leeks before and they’ve grown without a problem, just been behind the bigger ones.

  7. SarahJune 20, 2013 at 11:23 pmReply

    i don’t grow leeks but I think i could be tempted to next year!

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meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope.

However, three years on, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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