Real Men Sow

Harvesting Big Fat Leeks During the Hungry Gap


Just when I thought there aren’t enough reasons to love leeks, here’s another one for you.

If like me, you’re struggling for plot goodies during the Hungry Gap, then you might also appreciate the fantastic contribution leeks can make to the March time dinner table.

A few seasons ago, I had a few leek seedlings hanging around towards the end of Spring. I’d already planted out the ones I thought I needed for the Winter, and these were surplus to requirements.

Or so I thought.

An Experimental Late Sowing of Leeks…
I had some spare space on the plot, and rather than letting the seedlings go to waste, I stuck them in the ground (using the tried and trusted dibber method). It was one of those allotment experiments that present themselves which often come to nothing, but sometimes throw up a winner.

Surviving Over Winter…
The leeks grew on, but failed to catch up with the earlier plantings. They swelled to about the thickness of my thumb, but once the days shortened and the colder temperatures of Winter came, the leeks stopped dead in their tracks.

However, being the hardy veg that a leek is, they sat content in the ground and survived everything that came their way, including the snow. I thought nothing of it, apart from the odd observation that the leeks were still standing proud despite the rubbish weather.

A Spring Growith Spurt!
Then late February arrived, and something brilliant happened. The thin, spindly leeks began to grow – and fast.

By mid March, the leeks had undergone a sizeable growth spurt, and I was harvesting fat leeks just as my early plantings had finished. I went on to harvest leeks until June, when the supply finally ran out. This made a real bonus contribution to the kitchen during the Hungry Gap.

Late Leek Sowings Ever Since
So, ever since I stumbled across this discovery, I’ve always sown a late batch of leeks to grow on in Spring and complement my main crop. With leeks being so flexible, not to mention expensive in the shops, this is a discovery that has really bolstered my growing. It’s a little trick I’ve learnt that I’d definitely recommend.

For Hungry Gap leeks, I normally plant out in June. If you use a pot sowing method, you can sow your seeds at the same time as your maincrop and as long as you keep watering, the leeks will be fine outside in the pot until you’re ready to plant out.

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  1. davidMarch 16, 2015 at 10:02 amReply

    Mine always seem to be late sown.Don’t seem to get them going early enough and last year not planted out until late August so still have quite a few left in the ground.I thought they’d go to seed in the increasing temperature but hopefully will be a bonus crop.
    Trying an earlier start this year with propogator and window sills at home then a move to the shared greenhouse on the plot.
    Winter “inverno” variety bought abroad or from Franchi with lots of seed for your money.

  2. CatherineApril 9, 2015 at 10:51 amReply

    HI there folks! The nettles in the undug area near the stream at the bottom of our plot are proving to be a great win for a crop! If you like green soup…you have to try Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s nettle soup from the River Cottage.
    It is delicious and also uses any late leeks and celery…it is totally delicious! Catherine

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About Real Men Sow

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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