Real Men Sow

Loadsa Lovely Leeks

leeksIf leeks were the currency of England, I reckon I’d be a rich man.

So far this month, I’ve pulled up 1.9kg of the heady smelling vegetable. That’s 12 leeks to you and me, and I’ve still got 21 left (pictured).

Luckily, I never tire of them and their delicious punchy taste. I’ve made leek and mushroom quiche, leek and cider mussels, leek and goats cheese tart and used them as part of a winter greens side dish. It goes without saying that I’ve also knocked up a batch of that traditional winter warmer, leek and potato soup.

Expensive in the Shops
What has surprised me though, is how much leeks fetch in the shops. The cheapest of the large supermarkets sells organic leeks at £4.13 a kilo. According to my Veg Savings Spreadsheet, I’ve saved £7.81 so far in February on leeks alone. That’ll pay for my seed potatoes!

Pungent Aroma
Aside from their lovely taste, my favourite thing about leeks is the pungent aroma that they immediately release the second you pull them from the ground. It is almost overpowering, and a real reminder of why homegrown food is so exciting.

Last week, I harvested some before work, and left them in the car all day. The smell when I came home was incredible – kind of like a veggie Magic Tree – and certainly cheered me up after a day cooped up in front of the computer.

Growing Leeks
I tend to sow lots of seeds in pots of multi-purpose compost during spring, and plant out when they’re pencil size. I do this by emptying the whole lot out of the pot, breaking the baby leeks up and transplanting them into holes made with a dibber, about 15 – 20cm apart.

Making sure the little beardy roots are tucked in to the bottom of the hole, I water in but don’t fill with soil, as the leeks bulk up to the size of the hole.

Leeks aren’t particularly fussy soil-wise, but I do give them plenty of water.

Short and Fat or Long and Thin?
This year, I grew Musselburgh, a tall but thinnish maincrop. If you want short, fat shanks, Bleu Solaise might be worth a try.

I worked on a farm in the Pyrenees for a couple weeks a few years back, and they dug a big, long, foot deep trench to plant their leeks in, and earthed up as they grew. Unfortunately I never saw the results, but I bet they were monsters!

I’ve found that my leeks sit quite happily in the ground through winter, and will last until the spring, when they start to flower.

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4 Comments

  1. CroilaFebruary 20, 2011 at 3:00 amReply

    Ohhhh I’m envious of your leeks! I was given a dozen Bleu Solaise leeks that my mother-in-law started off from seed in May last year. I stuck them in the ground and haven’t even bothered pulling them up yet – they’re pathetic looking! They’re more like pencils than leeks!

    I’m currently planning what to grow this year and was going to abandon leeks for good, but after reading your post here I’m almost tempted to have another go. I just wish I knew how to fatten them up properly though?

  2. CarlyFebruary 20, 2011 at 10:45 pmReply

    Ooh lots of lovely leeks! I haven’t grown leeks before so this year will be my first! I do love them, and being from welsh heritage and all that will be a good thing to give my Ma as a present.

  3. RonnieFebruary 26, 2011 at 8:23 amReply

    Love your blog, full of really interesting information and one that I will follow with interest. Filled with leek envy – grew some from seed last year, having never grown leeks before and not at all successful. Please take a look at my last blog post if you want a chuckle at my meagre results. Onwards and upwards though. Ronnie

    • Jono

      JonoFebruary 26, 2011 at 9:09 amReplyAuthor

      Thanks for your kind comments Ronnie, will certainly check out your leeks. Although you won’t find me laughing, you haven’t seen my parnsips…

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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, over a decade later, 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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