Sow: March – April
Harvest: September – April
Conditions: Well-drained, well-fertilised soil
The important thing about leeks is that they’ll be in the ground for a long time so it’s worth preparing the soil first. Dig some well rotted manure into the soil a few weeks in advance of planting. Then you can either sow the leek seeds directly into the ground (about 1/4 inch deep) or start them in a propogator and then move them outside. It’s easier to sow them directly into the ground, but make sure you thin them out once the seedlings have 3 or 4 leaves each. Aim to have 6 inches between each seedling.
Keep the bed free from weeds and the soil moist, especially during hot weather.
If you want your leeks to have more of the white stem, carefully earth up the soil a few inches high around the leek during the summer months. Do this a little at a time to avoid getting soil in between the leaves, as this can make them gritty. You can wrap a strip of paper around the base of the leek before earthing up to protect the centre. This is known as blanching the stems.
When the leeks are ready to harvest, lift them individually with a fork. This prevents damage from occurring to others and means you can safely leave the rest in the ground to pick when needed.
Growing leeks in containers is the same as growing them in the ground, just keep an eye on the watering during dry weather. Choose a pot that is about 12 inches deep but only fill it two thirds full, leaving room in the top for earthing up. If you don’t intend to blanch your leeks, you won’t need such a deep pot.
The best place to store leeks is in the ground, to be picked as you need them, but they can be frozen too.
Freezing – for smaller leeks, you can blanch them whole for 3 minutes before removing them from the water. For larger leeks, slice them and blanch for 2 minutes. Allow to cool, then pack into a container or freezer bag and freeze. They should keep for at least 6 months this way.
GOOD: Apples, Carrots, Celery
BAD: Beans, Peas