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